Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Michael


One pervasive fear you might have when you rent your car is another party damaging your rental cars. After all, when you sign a rental contract, you are responsible for returning the vehicle in the same condition. The rental car company doesn’t care who damages a car. But what happens if someone else damages your rental car?

Hit and Run Drivers

There have been instances where a hit and run driver causes damage to a rental car, and the renter has to pay a steep deductible. As our primer on rental car insurance explains, most coverage provided by credit cards is secondary. That means the credit card will only cover up to the insurance policy deductible. So getting stuck paying the insurance deductible means one of two things:

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  • The renter didn’t read about potential coverage offered by his or her credit card
  • The renter didn’t pay with a credit card and has no protection when renting a car.

In either case, the upshot is that it’s important to read and understand what coverage is provided by credit card issuers. None of us want to drop an insurance deductible to repair a damaged rental car. And even if the credit card covers up to the insurance company’s deductible, we really don’t want to report rental car damage to our insurer, as that could impact premiums.

How to Avoid the Tab

The rental car companies will tell you the way to absolve responsibility for damage to a rental car is to pay for expensive Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). But we have a better idea.

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Whenever possible, pay for car rentals with credit cards that provide primary rental car insurance coverage. With a low-cost credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can pick up benefits such as trip interruption insurance and primary rental car damage coverage.