The I am sure many of you have heard credit cards provide collision damage waiver coverage when you rent a car. Some of you might have been in unfortunate situation when you had to use it. I am sure applying for a claim is a confusing process. Do you pay the rental company for damages? Get reimbursed by your credit card company later? What if the amount is too much to pay out of pocket?
Do not worry, I recently had the unfortunate necessity to file a claim with Chase for collision damage waiver on a rental. Read on to find out the process to make sure you do not end up paying for the damages yourself.
On a recent trip to Utah I had a small rock chip come out of nowhere and hit the windshield on my rental car. Thankfully no major harm was done to us. However, the windshield was left with a small hole shown below. Luckily for me, I had rented using my Chase Sapphire Reserve(CSR) card. As they mentioned I had declined my Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) coverage from Enterprise and paid in full using my CSR. So, when this happened I was at least relaxed knowing that CSR would be able to reimburse me for any damages. I called to make sure what the process was. I just wanted to create this guide for anyone who rents using CSR or any of the chase premium cards and ends up needing to file a claim:
What is Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ?
Chase as part of its cardholder benefits provides cdw coverage on rental cars. They cover up to 75000 USD in damages for theft or collision on a rental car. All you have to do is decline the CDW coverage provided by your rental company and pay for the full rental using your chase card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) and Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) offer primary Collision Damage Waiver. It means you can just go through them to claim for insurance in case you need to. Most other Chase, Discover and Amex cards provide secondary CDW coverage. Meaning, you also need to involve your car insurance provider first and then credit card provider might step in to cover rest of the bill.
Start a claim online as soon as possible
Chase outsources their claims process to a company called eclaimsline. Head over to the following website: https://www.eclaimsline.com/ start the claim:
Hit new claim and enter your card number and the name on card:
We will select Collision Damage Waiver since we are trying to claim for a rental car incident. Enter your address and personal info on next screen:
Give details on the incident, rental car and if you made the payment at the counter, then choose yourself as the benefits payee. You can change this later. Upload the required documents in the next screen. You can submit some documents later as well:
Once you hit submit, you should get a confirmation about the claim. You should also get an email from the site with the details.
Decide whether to pay for damages out of your own pocket
Next step is while returning the vehicle decide whether to pay for the damages on your own or not. In my case the damage was small (317$) so I paid it while returning the car. However in case when the damage is huge, it might not be possible to pay out of your pocket. In such cases make sure to let Enterprise/rental company know that you started a claim with eclaimsline. Its possible that you might have to pay a deductible that the car rental has set depending on the type of damage. They might even ask to put a hold on your card for the damages. This depends and varies from rental agency to another agency. But do not worry, take receipts and document anything you pay.
Documentation for Collision Damage Waiver Claim
Get as much documentation as you can. Things like original rental agreement that shows you declined collision damage waiver. Itemized receipt for any payment you paid. Photos of the damage. Police report if you have any. Incident report from car rental company. I even have this list in one of the screenshots above. In addition to this, the claim website also asks for a copy of your card statement with any payment charge. Upload all the documents to the claim website against your claim.
Now waiting begins
Now that you uploaded all documents, the ball is in the claims website court. Usually you get a response after 5-7 days. However this is when I realized that that there are 2 other documents that the eclaimsline website needs to complete the claim. Its the demand letter and itemized bill/estimate of repair. Its according to this estimate that they payout. I learned that the rental car company needs to send this demand letter and estimate. However getting this form the rental company turned out to be easier said than done.
I kept getting reminder emails from eclaimsline website asking me to submit the demand letter and estimate. I had to call Enterprise a few times but they seemed clueless. All they seemed to say was it will take at least 30 days for them to generate the demand. At this point I kind of felt taken for a ride when I paid for the damages myself. And was not getting proper responses for the demand and estimate.
Respite at last
I finally got an email from enterprise stating claim was processed and my case closed. It mentioned no payment was needed from my side since I had already paid for damages. However I actually had to call enterprise again to remind them to send me the demand letter and estimate since I still needed those to get myself reimbursed. I eventually received the demand and estimate form Enterprise via email. To my surprise the demand and estimate were only for 185$ when I had paid 317$ for the damages while returning. On calling enterprise once again, I found that the original cost was indeed a deductible. Eventually they returned me the 117$ via a check and I had to submit the demand and estimate for the rest(185$) to the eclaimsline website as part of collision damage waiver claims process.
Got my money back!
After about a week of submitting the demand letter and estimate, I got an email form eclaimsline asking for my electronic deposit information to reimburse me for the remaining 185$. The process lasted 75 days from the day of incident to getting my money back.
- The process works as expected. Its simple enough to follow.
- You have 365 days of to submit all documents from the date of incident. So you do have ample time to make sure you get through the whole process right.
- I wish there was more transparency in the process.
- Communication on the process is poor. Had to follow up with Enterprise to get the demand letter and estimate. Had to follow up to understand why the demand was for lesser amount than what I paid. There was no communication about a check from Enterprise at all!
- Need to follow up to make sure things are moving along. I think the usual process takes about 2-3 months. But constant reminders from eclaimsline regarding demand and estimate. Along with poor communication from Enterprise forces you to follow up. Although I do think 2-3 months should be enough for the process to complete. Do keep in mind that if you paid for any part of the damages while returning your vehicle, you will not bee seeing that money for at least 2-3 months.
As I mention in my other article, Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of my all time fav cards despite the 450$ annual fee. The benefits you get are just too good for the price. Having saved so much money on my trips before by not paying for insurance I have already made it well worth the fee. This time I even used the claim process and was able to get my money back from Chase within 2-3 months of the incident. Here is a summarized list of things you need to do if you get in some incident (Or in general to make sure you are prepared for any situation):
- Make sure to decline collision coverage on your rental and put all amount on the CSR card. (This is a must condition for Chase to take care of your collision coverage in case of an incident)
- Take pictures of your car at the shop before picking it up.
- Do a detailed walk through and report any problems on car if you find any.
- Make sure you check out the gas tank level before driving off.
- Make sure to get the Rental agreement hard copy/email before driving off.
- In case of an incident inform and start a claim as soon as possible.
- Take pics of damage.
- Either pay the charges out of pocket/ask rental agency to follow up with claims website with details of claim info.
- Upload all documents requested by claims website.
- Call the rental agency if you need the demand/estimate of repairs.
- Wait for the process to complete and make sure all parties are happy with the outcome.
This is just a generic guide and an account of how my experience was while claiming for car rental damage. I got my collision damage waiver through the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. But I do think the general process for most other primary coverage cards is the same. Little things or steps during the process may differ from person to person and base don incident. But I am sure this account will be helpful for all. Head over to the respective credit card provider website to make sure you understand all the terms to use collision damage waiver coverage.