Saved by Chase Sapphire Reserve's CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) and How You Can Also Be Protected in the Future with Your Card
Rental car agencies always push their insurances for an additional cost. A lot of credit cards will offer rental car protection for free* as long as you use the card when making the reservation.
*Well mostly free. It is free, as it is included. But what is free really when you have an annual fee and it doesn't cover everything you can imagine...
What is important to note here is that you need to make sure your card is covering primary insurance. That means it is the first line of insurance to pay for any damages. You are not required to use your personal car insurance for the damage to be covered.
Most cards offer secondary CDW. For starters, they usually come with some type of deductible and may not cover the entire cost of a vehicle’s loss or any fees accompanying the damage. Most crucially, it only kicks in following your own personal car insurance. Thus, you still need to file a claim with your own insurance company when in an accident in a rental car.
Always read the fine print and never assume what is covered when you decline CDW insurance.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card comes with primary CDW. Here is what that covers:
- Physical damage to covered vehicle only (Vehicle valued under 75k)
- Theft of covered vehicle
- Valid loss-of-use charges
- Reasonable towing charges
Notice that diminishment of value, admin fees and damage to other vehicles and property are not listed. You would be responsible for these costs.
In my only experience with having to take advantage of this benefit. My $38, one day rental of a Dodge Challenger in Miami for getting scratched resulted in $982.33 in damage, loss of use, and admin fees.
It wasn't that bad. If you squint your eyes.. you can barely notice. Squint really hard tho.
Fortunately, I was reimbursed for $858.10. This was for the damage and loss of use. I had to pay the $134.23 which was the admin fee and diminishment of value. Which was a bargain considering the damage I caused by scrapping a pole on a tight turn. I am a fantastic driver in other states, I swear! Keep squinting...
Chase claims are handled with eclaimsline.com and you don’t even have to call anyone.(yay social awkwardness prevails)
They do struggle with communication and take a long time on most claims.
Bottom line: Read the benefits book that comes with your card and you will know exactly what would be covered. Always save all paperwork including receipts, pictures and damage reports!