Nancy from San Francisco suggested the subject of this post during my recent interview with Michael Finney: If you have car rental insurance with your credit card, do you need to buy the insurance from the car rental company? It’s a good question, so for this week’s Fine Print Friday I am going to do a comparison and contrast of representative insurance policies. This cage match will be between American Express and Hertz Rent-A-Car.
Instead of just pointing out interesting provisions like typical Fine Print Fridays, this post will instead compare specific points of the insurance policies, and will also be the first in a new series of posts called Contract Cage Matches.
NOTE: Some states, such as Florida and California, have some slightly different limits on coverage, which are typically higher dollar amounts than standard. If you live in one of these states, take a look at the American Express Car Rental Coverage Summary of Terms and Conditions for the specifics. (PDF) You can also read at the Hertz Protection Plan information yourself. For even more exciting reading, see the complete version of the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection. (PDF)
Your American Express card covers: (1) Reimbursement for damage or theft, for both the rental car and personal property; and (2) Medical expenses, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits (so long as it results from a covered accident). You can select either the $100,000 plan for $24.95, or the $75,000 for $19.95. For the purposes of this post I will be using the $100,000 plan.
Hertz offers multiple levels of coverage some of which include all damage to the rental car, liability insurance, medical coverage, personal property, and death benefits. None of these packages on its own is as comprehensive as the coverage provided by American Express.
Both policies have limits to the amount they cover (for most items), and should be compared to determine what type of risk you might be assuming depending on what coverage you choose.
Damage to Car or Theft of Car: $100,000
Accidental Death and Dismemberment: $100,000
Medical Expenses: $15,000 per person
Personal Property: $5,000 per person (maximum of $10,000)
Loss Damage Waiver plan: No limit; “relieved of all financial responsibility for loss or damage”
Partial Damage Waiver plan: Up to $1,000, depending on the deductible on your own car insurance. (This assumes that your car insurance will cover a rental. If not, you may be on the hook for everything past the deductible.)
Limited Loss Damage Waiver plan: Up to $1,000.
Accidental Death: $175,000 (renter); $17,500 (each passenger)
Accidental Medical Expenses: $2,500 per person
Ambulance Expense: $250
TOTAL Accident Limit: $225,000
Liability Coverage is NOT included. If you injure someone else in a car accident, hopefully your personal auto insurance will cover it, because if it doesn’t, you’re on the hook for it personally.
Also excluded are various types of vehicles, such as leased cars, any truck other than a pick-up truck, vehicles with post-manufacture customizations (except driver assistance devices), vehicles more than 20 years old, and limousines, motorcycles, mopeds, campers, or trailers, among others.
Many specific items or types of personal property are not covered, including the vehicle’s tires, lost items, furniture, art, animals (?), and all types of money.
Finally, certain actions taken by the driver are excluded from the coverage, including intentional damage, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (in excess of the legal limit), war or act of war, leaving the car unlocked, using the vehicle in a crime, violating the terms of the rental agreement, or (and this is my favorite) failure to return all the keys when returning the vehicle.
This list is far shorter, and simply does not pay benefits for any loss caused by—or charges for: intentional acts, committing an assault or felony (apparently you can commit misdemeanors and it’s okay, unlike with AMEX), driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, pregnancy or any other situation resulting in childbirth, or stealing the vehicle.
That’s a pretty concise comparison of the American Express and Hertz auto rental insurance policies, and hopefully it will provide some assistance when deciding which coverage to choose, or at least provide some items to look out for.
What other types of contract comparisons would you like to see?