My rental car coverage didn't apply — reader mistake story
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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Kelly, who had to pay more than expected for a rental overseas:
I was planning a road trip through Ireland, and was excited about how affordable my six-day drive around the southern coast was going to be. I had printed out a form from my Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express stating the rental car insurance policy, and when I went to pick up my car from Enterprise near the Dublin airport, I was asked to provide proof of insurance. Feeling quite proud of my planning, I produced my documentation.
Unfortunately, I was told that my Amex policy excludes some countries, and you guessed it ... one of them is Ireland. The only way for me to drive away in my sweet international ride was to pay for the insurance provided through Enterprise, which would end up costing me an additional 34 euros per day. My adventure ended up being a few hundred dollars more costly than I planned.
In hindsight, I should have called American Express ahead of time and checked that my destination was covered. Had I done that, I could have arranged other insurance ahead of time or at least not been blindsided by the additional cost. I’ve now switched to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which has a collision damage waiver policy that does cover rental cars in Ireland.
American Express doesn't provide primary car rental coverage as a standard card benefit, but it does offer a Premium Car Rental Protection policy that insures rentals up to 42 days in length for a reasonable fee. Like many credit card benefits, this policy comes with various exclusions, one of which is that it doesn't apply to rentals in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, New Zealand or anywhere on the sanctioned country list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. It also doesn't apply to select vehicle types like antique cars or moving trucks, among other exclusions. As Kelly suggests, the prudent approach is to research benefit terms thoroughly before you need them, not after.
You may be asked to show proof of insurance when renting a vehicle even if you have primary coverage through your credit card. Most rental companies only request the name of your insurance provider if you're a U.S. resident renting domestically, but they may need more information if you're underage or using a debit card as payment. You're more likely to be asked for proof of insurance when renting internationally; without it, you may not be allowed to rent unless you pay extra for a loss damage waiver. If you're relying on your personal insurance, check the policy to make sure you're adequately covered, since some terms may not apply when traveling abroad.
Related: Five steps to a perfect car rental
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Kelly a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I'd like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.
Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!