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car credit cardSo long as you use it to pay for your car rental, your credit card probably offers you more insurance on your car rental than you assumed — and, if nothing else, at least supplements your own car insurance very well. Below is a roundup of coverage (and applicable exclusions) offered by the major credit cards as of January 2014.

One important rule is that none of the major cards include liability insurance as a part of their coverage, with coverage primarily limited to the loss and damage waiver. This typically also excludes personal injury, as well as loss or theft of personal belongings. For liability and other coverage, you will want to make sure you are covered by your auto insurance policy.

Note that coverage may vary based on the type of card you have; we recommend contacting your credit card issuer to double-check its policies before renting.

Mastercard
- All Gold, Platinum, World and World elite cards have coverage; standard cards vary by issuer. The coverage amount is the lesser of the actual repair amount, current market value (less salvage) or $50,000 per incident.

- Vehicle exclusions: Trucks, pickups, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, cargo vans, campers, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, motorbikes, antique vehicles, limousines, sport utility trucks and vehicles with retail prices exceeding $50,000.

- Country exclusions: Ireland, Israel and Jamaica, and where prohibited by law (World and World Elite have no exclusions).

- Limit on rental length: 31 days for World and World Elite cardholders, 15 days for other types.

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing or storage charges, loss of use and administrative fees when the rental company provides appropriate documentation.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t.

Visa
- All cards have coverage, limited to collision and theft coverage. Coverage is up to the replacement cash value of the rental vehicle as it was originally manufactured, taking into account current condition and mileage.

- Vehicle exclusions: Expensive, exotic and antique automobiles; certain vans; vehicles with an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

- Country exclusions: Israel, Jamaica, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

- Limit on rental length: 15 days in your country of residence, 31 days outside it.

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing charges and valid administrative and loss of use charges imposed by the auto rental company.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t.

10 Things Not to Do When Renting a Car

American Express
- All cards offer coverage (specific coverage varies by card), except the Delta Options card (which is no longer being marketed).

- Vehicle exclusions: Exotic cars, trucks, pickups, cargo vans, full-size vans, customized vehicles, vehicles used for hire or commercial purposes, antique cars, limousines, full-size sport utility vehicles, sport/utility vehicles when driven “off-road,” off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, recreational vehicles, golf or motorized carts, campers, trailers and any other vehicle which is not a Rental Auto.

- Limit on rental length: 30 days.

- Country exclusions: Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand (for small business cards, coverage is for the U.S., its territories and possessions only).

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing or storage charges, loss of use and administrative fees when the rental company provides appropriate documentation.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t. You can pay $24.95 for Premium Car Rental Protection, which offers primary coverage plus additional benefits for up to 42 consecutive days of coverage. Coverage varies by card.

Discover
- All cards have coverage, varying from $25,000 to $50,000, depending on the card.

- Vehicle exclusions: Off-road, antique, limited edition, high-value (more than $50,000) and high-performance motor vehicles; trucks; recreational vehicles; campers; pickups; and mini-buses.

- Country exclusions: None.

- Limit on rental length: 31 days (45 days if you are an employee of the company that provided the card for use).

- Covered fees: None except on the Escape card, which covers reasonable towing fees to the nearest collision repair facility.

- Secondary coverage: They’ll pick up what your auto insurance doesn’t.

Diners Club
- All cards offer Primary Collision Damage Waiver Insurance when the entire cost of a car rental is charged to a Diners Club Card. There’s usually no need to file a claim with your own insurance company, so your personal insurance premium won’t be affected. The insurance covers physical damage and theft of the vehicle, reasonable loss of use charges and reasonable towing charges, and includes Secondary Personal Effects insurance.

- Protection applies to rental cars with manufacturer’s suggested retail price up to $100,000 for covered damages.

- Vehicle exclusions: Trucks, pickups, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, campers, off-road vehicles, recreational vehicles, antique vehicles, trailers, motorbikes, vehicles with fewer than four wheels and some SUVs.

- Limit on rental length: 45 days

- Country exclusions: Australia, Italy and New Zealand

- Covered fees: Reasonable towing costs and loss of use charges. Administrative fees are not covered.

Car Rental Secrets We Bet You Don’t Know

– written by Ed Hewitt

british airways club world seats Every 20 years or so, often unfortunately following the crash of a commercial aircraft such as Asiana Airlines Flight 214, the topic of reversing airplane seats to face the rear of the plane, uh, rears its head in the media. To wit, see Rear-facing aircraft seats ‘safer’ in the U.K.’s Telegraph. The newspaper explains that rear-facing seats “provide better support for the back, neck and head in the event of sudden deceleration.”

As one commenter on the article notes, this idea is not really news. Just ask parents in the U.S., where the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants face backward in car seats until at least age 2. The first serious research that resulted in recommendations for rear-facing seats was done in 1952.

The Telegraph makes a raft of good points about how airlines, many of which are focused on reducing costs almost to the point of obsession and even recklessness, are highly unlikely to take on the costs associated with reconfiguring their fleets with new seats, new television screens and windows in new positions, not to mention overhauling their seat assignment systems. Besides the initial sunk costs of trashing the old seats and purchasing and installing new ones, most available backward-facing seats are heavier than the ones currently in use, at a time when many airlines are trying to reduce aircraft weight to reduce fuel consumption.

The reason the seats weigh more is important; when passengers are facing backward, the seats have to absorb much more of the impact in the event of a crash, and so need stronger and heavier reinforcements where they are bolted to the floor.

How to Survive a Plane Crash

If a bit of extra fuel seems like a minor sacrifice to make for massively increased safety, it’s informative to keep in mind how aggressive some airlines have been about weight reductions — including that of their staffers. Seriously, if Ryanair has gone so far as to cut the size of its in-flight magazines and stock less ice to reduce aircraft weight — not to mention asking flight crews to watch their weight — are they likely to put heavier seats on their planes?

I wonder also about the passenger comfort issues rear-facing seats might present, especially for those of us who are prone to motion sickness. Ever sit on a backward-facing train seat? I have, and it takes about five minutes before your brain starts sending signals to turn around — now. My recommendation: Don’t do it on a full stomach or after a pub crawl.

That said, there are plenty of first-class cabins on larger planes that alternate forward and rear-facing seats to allow for more room to recline, and for more first-class seats to be put on planes. (British Airways’ Club World, pictured above, is one example.) Readers, have any of you sat in these? What was it like?

Asiana Airlines Crash: Where Are the Safest Seats on a Plane?

All told, given the various forces of resistance to the idea outlined above, and the fact that this idea has been floated since the early 1950′s without becoming more widespread, it is probably a fair assumption that we won’t be staring at the back of the plane on takeoff — at least not anytime soon.

– written by Ed Hewitt