Will Visa cover my rental car collision waiver?
January 9, 2013 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Will Visa cover my rental car collision damage waiver even if it is my wife's card and the rental car is in my name? What is the best way around paying the rental company $20/day for damage waiver but still be covered? Any experience getting Visa to cover damage to rental car?

I've reserved a car in Miami for our family vacation. We are Americans, but residents of France (we have car insurance in France but not in the US). We don't rent cars often and in the process of searching for a rental car I have found that rental companies that let you select your country of residence are much cheaper (and this difference seems to come down to how the insurance is handled). For example, Alamo lets me select country of residence right up front. If I select France I get a price of about $800. If I select USA I get a price of about $1400. Other companies (Avis for example) never give you a chance to select country of residence.

So I finally settled on Alamo and worked my way through their reservation process. On the second webpage it told me the Collision Damage Waiver and Extended Protection were included in the quoted price. A few pages later it gave me the option to select the CDW and EP for prices of about $18/day and $7/day. I had to deselect the insurance to get the price to be the earlier quoted price. Since I am going to pay for the rental with a Visa I know that Visa will cover (to some extent) the CDW.

After I made the reservation and gave my credit card details I suddenly realized that the card I've used is in my name but is actually my wife's card. I made the reservation in my name. For logistical reasons my wife won't be there when I pick up the car so the rental can't be in her name. My question is: will Visa still cover the Collsion Damage Waiver even though the reservation was made with a second card and not the original account owner's card?

Have you had any experience getting Visa to cover a Collision Damage Waiver on a rental car?

posted by pandabearjohnson to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here's Visa's information on their collision damage waiver coverage. From that page:
Who is eligible?

You are eligible only if you are a valid cardholder whose name is embossed on an eligible U.S.-issued Visa card. Only you as the primary renter of the vehicle and any additional drivers permitted by the auto rental agreement are covered.
You could always call Visa to make sure. Note that this does not cover your liability if you are involved in an accident and injure someone or damage property other than your rental car. You might want to contact your French auto insurance to see if they'll cover anything while you're here.
posted by zachlipton at 11:47 AM on January 9, 2013

You will need to check with whatever benefits documentation came with your Visa card (especially if it's a French card), but it's quite likely that if you haven't already paid for the rental, the rental-car company will let you change the payment method when you pick up the car.

Other companies (Avis for example) never give you a chance to select country of residence.

Avis does, right on their homepage.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:02 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Visa (or any other card) only covers your deductible on your PRIVATE insurance when you rent a car. Not for actual CDW or any other insurance you buy ancilarily to renting your car.

Were I you, I'd buy all the insurance they offered, since you don't have any auto insurance that will cover you while in the US.

Pay with whatever card you like, there is no deductible on insurance you buy at the rental car counter.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:07 PM on January 9, 2013

You have a family. Accidents can be expensive. Pay for the full coverage, you won't regret it.
posted by jbenben at 2:05 PM on January 9, 2013

It looks like you might already know this, but just in case:
CDW covers damage to rental car.
EP covers damage to other cars/property ("Liability").

I would imagine Visa would cover CDW for you because you used a card with your name on it (even if it was only the additional card and you are not the primary on that account). You can call your card-issuing bank to be sure.

Even if Visa covers CDW, you would still want liability coverage unless you can make sure that your insurance in France will cover liability for car rentals in the USA.

One more thing -- "secondary" vs "primary" CDW -- typically Visa provides secondary coverage for CDW, which means the claim goes to your insurance first, and any left over costs will be borne by Visa, which would just be the deductible amount. In contrast, there are other products such as Amex Premier Rental Car Protection that offer "primary" CDW coverage for a flat $25 one-time fee for the whole rental (rather than daily charges). Again, this is still CDW only, NO liability coverage. But in this case if the rental car were damaged, it would never go to your insurance.

If I were you, I would buy EP from the rental company and use Amex premier for CDW.
posted by thewildgreen at 2:52 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

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