USAA And Mastercard Turn Celebrity Librarian Into Unwitting Consumer Scofflaw

K.G. writes that she used her Mastercard to pay for a car rental from Avis. The card issuer, Consumerist darling USAA, assured her that the card provided insurance coverage for rental cars. Good to know! Except for how the insurance claim was denied, possibly because she used a coupon for the car rental. No one is entirely sure. The bill went straight to a collection agency without ever giving K.G. an opportunity to, um, actually pay it. Now she’s being penalized for ducking a bill she was never sent, and still can’t get a straight answer out of any of the companies involved.

She posted an open letter to all three companies on her blog.

Dear USAA, Mastercard, and Bill Collector…

Or as I think of you at the moment, Larry, Moe, and Curly…

Yes, I will immediately send $641 to the collection agency to settle my “debt.” But in the meantime I will use my bully pulpit to vent about a year of being jerked around.

First of all, I have a great credit rating and plan to keep it that way, which is why that I am just paying up. I consider myself wronged, but I preen over my credit rating and will not let the Three Stooges sully it.

Second, this is to you, USAA: if you are going to have a credit card that offers insurance coverage for rental cars, then make sure it’s a real service. Because the day I rented that car from Avis, a year ago, I called and asked, and was assured, yes, I would be covered. I trusted you as I have trusted you since 1985, when I was a second lieutenant with a used Pontiac Fiero (bad judgment on my part, but I digress).

In fact, I was dorked around for a year, and then last week received a collection-company notice (without having ever seen an actual bill), and then received a notice that my claim was denied (read on about that), and then received a second collection-agency notice, as if I were some scalawag and not someone who pays bills on time quite assiduously.

Third, Mastercard, thank you to the anonymous person who warned me back in September 2009, after I dinked my rental car and naively sent in the paperwork, thinking that hey, I’m covered, that the process would be much longer than I anticipated. Whoever you are, you spoke truth to justice. My only comment is that you prolonged hope where I should have had none.

Fourth, Mastercard, you win. I sent in the same paperwork over and over and over and over and OVER again for a year, and every time asked for a confirmation that it was received, only to hear deafening silence, and then would get another request for the same information. I spent way over $641 in personal time repeatedly sending you the same material. After a while I began to wonder if you expected to wear me down or if I would lose this information and give up. I never gave up, not until you sent a message — AFTER I had been contacted by a bill collector! — that my claim was denied.

Why was my claim denied? You pointed (last week! After I received the collection notice!) to an arcane rule that because I had used a coupon to rent the car, I wasn’t entitled to a credit, even though I had upgraded the car so in theory it wasn’t free… and I had used my Mastercard… but never mind. You had an entire freaking year to offer me your lame excuse.

I never got an opportunity to just pay Avis the $500. I never got that bill. My experience went from paperwork nightmare to Criminal Consumer.

Mastercard, you plastic Satan, I will take that credit card and violate all local environmental laws to burn it on our deck in full view of God and San Francisco.

USAA, I wrote and called to ask for your help. You are a terrific insurance company. You sell a lot of other financial services. Based on this experience, I plan to avoid anything you sell unrelated to insurance, and when it’s appropriate, I’ll divest myself of your credit cards (which for the record I clear off every month). The left hand clearly doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Collection agency, I don’t know who is doing your mail-merge, but mailing me twice in a week, the second time to threaten me, “We do not understand your lack of attention in this matter,” feels a little OCD. I realize your office is “prepared to proceed with further collection in this matter,” but at least let me get out my checkbook. Because at this point I will be thrilled to make all of this go away.

USAA, I also don’t understand why I am being billed for more than my deductible. It’s not that much more, so perhaps I should just pay it and keep blogging about how unhappy I am with your credit card services. Since I can’t get a clear answer via email or telephone on any of this from any of the companies making my life miserable, if you have a response, please use the comment field below.

Hey, Avis, I don’t fault you one bit. I do ask that you understand that I wasn’t trying not to pay you. I was just taking advantage of a “card member benefit” that turned into a nightmare. I’ll know better next time and either pay extra for full coverage or not bother with a “benefit.” Or I won’t go for the $99 upgrade on a “free” car and that will mean I get the smaller car I don’t scrape when I pull into a very small garage on Lombard Street.

It’s enough to make a person just throw up their hands and buy insurance from the car rental agency. Maybe that’s the master plan here.

Turning a less ranty version of this letter into an executive e-mail carpet bomb would be an excellent move at this point. Good luck.
Dear USAA, Mastercard, and Bill Collector… [Free Range Librarian]


Edit Your Comment

  1. oldwiz65 says:

    Actually I never heard that Mastercard/Visa cardmember benefit for coverage on rental cars actually worked at all. I’ve read many times that you are covered when you use your CC, but never heard of anyone who successfully got any claim paid. I suspect it’s mostly a benefit that either does not really exist or is so limited by exceptions and limitations that it is worthless. Wonder how they manage to advertise this service if it doesn’t actually provide any coverage?

    I think the poster’s only option is to simply chalk it up to corporate “we don’t give a rats tushie about customers” mentality.

    On the other hand, does the insurance provided by the car rental agencies actually work even if you accept it or is there some fine print that says it only works under wildly improbably situations?

    • dork says:

      I got a claim paid. In fact, it was a claim in Ireland, which at the time (10 yrs ago) Visa specifically excluded from its rental car coverage, but Mastercard did not. In fact, MC even gave me back part of the deductible, which they were not obliged to, as a “goodwill gesture”. I still have the letter with that wording somewhere in my files.

      The point I think the OP missed is that just because you have insurance from another source doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay the rental car company for the damage. I had to pay the full amount of the damage to the Rental Car agency in Ireland, and then wait for the insurance reimbursement. Which sucks, but that’s the way it works.

      If you live in an area with reasonable car insurance rates and are a good driver, you can get a rider on your personal car insurance that covers damage to rental cars as well. Some may not want to do this, because it means an accident in a rental car will cause a claim on their personal insurance policy. But it may be a good option for some, who don’t make many claims on their insurance and trust their insurance company more than their credit card company.

      • apd09 says:

        Also, the rental car company charges you for your deductible on your insurance and then they bill the insurance company for the rest. I think that is the big thing here, the deductible still needs to be paid first before the insurance claim can be completed.

    • dork says:

      I got a claim paid. In fact, it was a claim in Ireland, which at the time (11 yrs ago) Visa specifically excluded from its rental car coverage, but Mastercard did not. In fact, MC even gave me back part of the deductible, which they were not obliged to, as a “goodwill gesture”. I still have the letter with that wording somewhere in my files.

      The point I think the OP missed is that just because you have insurance from another source doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay the rental car company for the damage. I had to pay the full amount of the damage to the Rental Car agency in Ireland, and then wait for the insurance reimbursement. Which sucks, but that’s the way it works.

      If you live in an area with reasonable car insurance rates and are a good driver, you can get a rider on your personal car insurance that covers damage to rental cars as well. Some may not want to do this, because it means an accident in a rental car will cause a claim on their personal insurance policy. But it may be a good option for some, who don’t make many claims on their insurance and trust their insurance company more than their credit card company.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        With a Texas insurance policy I believe rental cars are automatically covered under your comprehensive insurance. Until last year my Insurer, Amica, covered it under my liability coverage, meaning there wouldn’t have even been a deductible!

        Sure you have to worry about claims and history, but why do we stop doing that because we rent?

      • SChance says:

        No “rider” is generally needed for rental car coverage. Any decent policy will cover you in any non-owned auto that you are driving with permission of the registered owner. The key to that clause? When it comes to a rental car, if you aren’t listed on the rental contract as an authorized driver, you don’t have “permission,” and your insurance can refuse to cover you. Also, your physical damage coverage (collision/comprehensive) generally doesn’t transfer to something larger than 10,000 lbs GVW – so buy the insurance when you rent a UHaul, if you’re worried.

        I’m an insurance agent, and I never purchase the rental agency’s usurious “insurance coverage.” I’d rather deal with my insurance company, who I know will take care of me. This is the advice that I give my customers (with the exception of trips to Hawaii and New Jersey – those states, it might be easier to buy the insurance and be able to just walk away if anything happens), and I’ve processed many a claim involving a rental car. I’ve never seen coverage denied except for something that wouldn’t have been covered even if the customer had been driving his own vehicle.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Sure you’re covered, but there are terms that must be fulfilled of course, like any other insurance policy.

      She didn’t stay within those requirements, which is why they are not paying the claim. Once that was made clear, she really doesn’t have a complaint.

      Certainly, the company failed totally by dragging it on for a year and not sending her a bill. But it doesn’t remove the fault that she failed to read the terms and abide by them.

      • brianary says:

        Such a simple black and white world, where everyone has the time and legal training to read and understand all of the minutiæ of their different coverage options during the process of renting a car, then compare those choices and select the most rational choice. Can you imagine the line at that rental counter?

        • eli says:

          Aww, c’mon, you’ve just been waiting for a an excuse to use that fancy “ae” button on your keyboard!

          • MauriceCallidice says:

            Is “minutæ” even a word? I think brianary just pulled it out of the æther.

            • Framling says:

              I checked Wikipædia, and they didn’t have minutiæ listed, but the linked Wiktionary entry for minutiae had it as an alternate spelling.

    • keepntabs says:

      I had a claim paid by VISA for a vehicle that I rented in Costa Rica in 2004. The car rental company charged by card for the damage; which wasn’t my fault. When I rented the car, I noticed that the front passenger tire seemed a little bit flat. I asked the rental about it, and he said it was fine. I was still not convinced, and even went back the next day to show the manager. He too, said it was fine, and so I drove off to enjoy my vacation.

      Well, there are a lot of pot holes in the Limon province, and sure enough, I blew a tire and damaged the wheel while driving over one of them. Luckily, there was a fully functional spare. When I returned the vehicle, and told the rental company what happened, they said they would charge my card for the damage. I filed a claim as soon as I got home, and detailed all of the information. I never got a follow up call, but about 6-8 weeks later I received a check that reimbursed me the $156 that the rental company charged me; not too bad, it would have been significantly higher here in the U.S.

      I am sorry to hear about the OP’s trials and tribulations, but the information about the coupon is extremely helpful. Going forward, I will ask my CC company if there are any exclusions to the car rental insurance.

  2. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    What in the hell is going on with USAA these days? They don’t screw up that much, but when they do, they totally clam up and refuse to take responsibility.

    • jefeloco says:

      Agreed. The first time I got hit on my motorcycle should have been my “shot across the deck” that things aren’t as good as they once were at the halls of USAA. The first agent assigned to me was Mark, he was good and prompt. He always answered my calls directly (if I called during office hours) and sent paperwork when he said he would. Everything was going exceedingly smooth until he got in a car accident and went on a leave of absence.

      Jim took over and my headaches started. I had to repeatedly send in the same forms that I already cleared through Mark; Jim sent out a notice to reclaim funds already paid to the shop for repairs because *he* misunderstood the full claim. I was six months into physical therapy for my back and neck injuries when Jim decided that was enough (my $100,000 per claim medical was nowhere near the limit) and stopped paying the rehabilitation facility. No matter when I called, I always had to leave messages that might get returned within a week or so. The rep at my assailant’s insurance suddenly turned into a shining knight compared to Jim.

      Four calls to Jim’s supervisor finally got things turned around and going smoothly as long as she was handling things but every time I had to deal with Jim things fell apart, again. I have been hit once since then and praised Haleakala when i was assigned to Mark again. I am so glad he recovered from his accident, for his health and my sanity.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        My husband was hit while riding his motorcycle also, and the driver had USAA; we thought, “Oh, phew, they’re going to take care of us”. The settlement they offered was like a slap in the face, honestly, we were shocked. However, when we rejected the settlement and told them that if they didn’t try and do a little better, we’d sue them and probably get twenty times as much. Then, they did right by us, but still, yeah. Boo.

    • sleze69 says:

      Their mortgage loans used to be aces. Now the rates are mediocre at best. NavyFCU FTW.

    • TardCore says:

      I also agree, I’ve been with USAA for 19 years. Ever since they started letting everybody with a pulse into the club the service and coverage has been falling off. It’s a real bummer.

  3. david0mp says:

    If OP booked AVIS through USAA’s website, then she is automatically covered for the following regardless if OP paid with a MasterCard:
    $100,000 bodily injury or death per person
    $300,000 bodily injury or death per accident
    $25,000 property damage
    Loss or Damage to Rental Vehicle: The member is responsible for the first $5,000 of damage to a rental vehicle.
    ( while logged into USAA)

    It sounds like the OP did physical damage to the rental car and is in the $5000 deductible window (since the fee was only $641).

    However, I don’t have MasterCard’s rental car insurance rules handy.

  4. IThinkThereforeIAm says:

    1. OP is in deep dod-doo. From personal experience, once the bill goes to collection, your credit score is already dinged (and usually badly, as it is reported as “seriously overdue”). You’ll have to go through another nightmarish process to have it removed from your credit report.

    2. If I recall correctly, CC rental insurance stipulates that you are covered if you pay for the rental with your qualifying card ENTIRELY. (Granted, I never thought that using a money saving coupon would disqualify you).

    3. It is sad that CC companies can do something like this to us.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      What she should have done BEFORE sending the above letter is negotiated a pay for delete with the collection agency. The damage is done and the collection agency isn’t going to do more than ding her credit for that amount.

      If you tell the collection agency that you will only pay if they delete their trade line they will do it. Get it in writing and then pay, not before. If they refuse, tell them not to contact you unless they reconsider their offer, and do it in writing. They will come around. They want your money and could care less if they restore your credit.

    • mszabo says:

      I bet a discount coupon may still be covered. Sounds like the OPs situation is they had a coupon for a FREE rental and paid for an upgrade. So the Card wasn’t used for the rental, the card was used for an upgrade. That does seem to be slightly different.

    • tbax929 says:

      I think you’re correct on all fronts. As for the credit ding, she should have negotiated a pay for delete (in writing) with the collector. I have run into the same thing as you describe when renting a vehicle – you have to pay for it in full with the credit card in order for the insurance to kick in.

  5. jeffbone says:


    About every other Mastercard bill I get from USAA includes a flyer with various coupons for “Free Weekend Day” or “Free Upgrade” on a rental car. Heck, they even link to their rental car partners (Hertz/Avis/Budget) on their site and include hotlinks that automatically load the coupon code to the rental car reservation page. Guess I need to be more careful using those.

    In general, I’ve had many more issues with USAA banking services in general than with the insurance division, such as the time they sent a replacement Mastercard to an invalid address twice — even though they’d acknowledged receipt of the address change order, and had updated my insurance policies to the new location.

  6. Sudonum says:

    I got dinged in a rental from Hertz that I paid with my AMEX. I filed a claim with AMEX not realizing that their basic policy only covers what your personal insurance doesn’t, unless you purchase their upgraded coverage (costs something like $45 more a year). Well out of the goodness of their heart AMEX paid Hertz $500, so I was only on the hook for the remaining $250. Hertz sent me a nice letter letting me know that they had received a partial payment and asking how I wanted to settle the balance. I was also shocked that the cost of the repair was so low, someone backed into the drivers side rear quarter panel, and I thought they might have to replace the whole damn thing.

    • Powerlurker says:

      Just out of curiosity, what happens when your primary coverage doesn’t cover rentals at all? Do they pay the whole thing in that case?

      • Sudonum says:

        Well now that I think about it maybe AMEX paid $500 of it because I told them that my deductible was $500 so that’s how much I figured I’d be out of pocket. So I guess they would. But keep in mind that I am not a representative of American Express or any of it’s subsidiaries, nor am I licensed to practice law in any state in the union.

  7. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Woah, this is depressing, as I’m a USAA member and thought this covered me.

    Here’s the verbatim text that outlines how and why she may not have recieved the coverage.

    To get coverage:
    > Initiate and pay for the entire rental agreement/contract (tax, gasoline, and airport fees are not considered rental charges) with your World MasterCard card. If a rental company
    promotion/discount of any kind is initially applied toward payment of the rental vehicle, at least
    one (1) day of rental must be billed to your World MasterCard card.
    > You must decline the Collision/Damage Waiver offered by the vehicle rental company.
    > You must rent the vehicle in your own name and sign the vehicle rental agreement/contract.
    > Your rental agreement/contract must be for a rental period of thirty-one (31) consecutive days or less. Rental periods that exceed, or are intended to exceed, thirty-one (31) consecutive days are not covered.
    >You must rent a vehicle (including minivans and sport utility vehicles that are designed to
    accommodate nine passengers or fewer) that is intended for bound surfaces, such as concrete or tarmac. Rented vehicles must have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $50,000 or less.

    The kind of coverage you receive:
    > MasterRental will pay for covered damages on a secondary basis for which you are, or any other authorized driver is, legally responsible to the rental agency.
    > Covered damages include:
    > Physical damage to and theft of the vehicle, not to exceed the limits outlined below.
    > Reasonable loss-of-use charges imposed by the vehicle rental company for the period
    of time the rental vehicle is out of service. Loss-of-use charges must be substantiated by
    a location- and class-specific fleet utilization log.
    > Reasonable towing charges to the nearest factory-authorized collision repair facility.
    > If you have, or an authorized driver’s primary automobile insurance or other indemnity has,
    made payments for a covered loss, MasterRental will cover your deductible and any other
    eligible amounts not covered by other insurance.
    > Coverage is secondary to any other applicable insurance or coverage available to you. Coverage is limited to only those amounts not covered by any other insurance or coverage benefit.
    Note: In certain parts of the United States and Canada, losses to rental vehicles that are covered by your personal vehicle insurance policy liability section may not be subject to a deductible, which means that you may not receive any benefits from this program. Please contact your insurance provider for full coverage details pertaining to your personal vehicle insurance policy.
    > If you have no other insurance or your insurance does not cover you in territories or countries outside the United States, MasterRental is considered the primary coverage.
    > This coverage is not all-inclusive, which means it does not cover such things as personal injury, personal liability, or personal property. It does not cover you for any damages to other vehicles or property. It does not cover you for any injury to any party.

    Who is covered:
    > The World MasterCard cardholder and those designated in the vehicle rental agreement/contract as authorized drivers.

    Excluded rental vehicles:
    > All trucks, pickups, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, campers, off-road vehicles, and other recreational vehicles.
    > Trailers, motorbikes, motorcycles, and any other vehicle having fewer than four (4) wheels.
    > Antique vehicles (vehicles that are more than 20 years old or have not been manufactured for at least 10 years) or limousines.
    > All sport utility trucks. These are vehicles that have been or can be converted to an open,
    flat-bed truck (including, but not limited to, the Chevy Avalanche, GMC Envoy, and Cadillac
    Escalade EXT).
    > Any rental vehicle that has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price that exceeds $50,000.

    Where you are covered:
    In general, coverage applies worldwide, but there are exceptions:
    > You may be unable to receive benefits in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand.
    Please contact your vehicle rental agency before you travel.
    > Coverage is not available where prohibited by law.

    Coverage limitations:
    > MasterRental will pay the lesser of the actual repair amount, current market value (minus
    salvage), or $50,000 per incident for which the World MasterCard cardholder or any other
    authorized driver is legally responsible to the rental agency.
    > MasterRental will not pay for or duplicate the Collision/Damage Waiver coverage offered by
    the rental agency.

    What is NOT covered:
    > Any personal item stolen from the interior or exterior of a rental vehicle.
    > A vehicle not rented by the World MasterCard cardholder or authorized user on a
    World MasterCard account.
    > Any person not designated in the rental agreement/contract as an authorized driver.
    > Any obligations you assume other than that which are covered under MasterRental, or your
    primary vehicle insurance or other indemnity policy.
    > Any violation of the written terms and conditions of the rental agreement/contract.
    >Any loss that occurs while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; racing or reckless driving.
    > Losses involving the theft of the rental vehicle when the renter or authorized driver cannot
    produce the keys to the rental vehicle at the time of reporting the incident to the police and/or
    rental agency, as a result of negligence.
    > Mechanical failures caused by wear and tear, gradual deterioration, or mechanical breakdown.
    > Subsequent damages resulting from a failure to protect the rental vehicle from further damage.
    > Blowouts or tire/rim damage that is not caused by theft or vandalism or is not a result of a
    vehicle collision causing tire or rim damage.
    > Rental vehicles for which Collision/Damage Waiver coverage was accepted/purchased by you.
    > Any damage that is of an intentional or non-accidental nature, caused by the renter or
    authorized driver(s) of the rental vehicle.
    > Depreciation, diminishment of value, administrative, or other fees charged by the vehicle
    rental company.
    > Vehicles with a rental agreement/contract that exceeds or is intended to exceed a rental
    period of thirty-one (31) consecutive days from a rental agency.
    > Losses resulting from any kind of illegal activity.
    > Damage sustained on any surface other than a bound surface, such as concrete or tarmac.
    > Losses resulting from war or hostilities of any kind (including, but not limited to, invasion,
    terrorism, rebellion, insurrection, riot, or civil commotion); confiscation or damage by any
    government, public authority, or customs official; risks of contraband; illegal activity or acts.
    > Any loss involving the rental vehicle being used for hire, for commercial use, or as a public
    or livery conveyance.
    > Indirect or direct damages resulting from a covered claim.
    > Theft of, or damage to, unlocked or unsecured vehicles.
    > Value-added tax, or similar tax, unless reimbursement of such tax is required by law.

    • dulcinea47 says:

      How very, very odd that tire blowouts would not be covered.

    • Eric Jay says:

      I think that very first part makes it pretty clear why she was not covered: “at least one (1) day of rental must be billed to your World MasterCard card.” The letter states that the customer did NOT pay for any of the rental on her card, only the upgrade fee.

      It’s not the most well known rule, but it’s why I never use my frequent flier miles towards rental cars. I’ve three times had rentals damaged (twice while the car was parked and once a flying rock hit my windshield). All three times, MasterCard has handled my claim pretty smoothly and paid for the damage.

      That said, I can’t think of any reason why MasterCard would (a) NOT inform the customer that the claim is denied for this reason, or (b) let the account go to collections before sending the customer a bill. That’s just customer dis-service.

  8. tbax929 says:

    I simply don’t trust the insurance that is provided on rental cards through my credit cards. I have rental car coverage included on my personal insurance policy. However, it doesn’t cover loss of us (and it’s not even available for me to purchase). Therefore, I always buy the loss of use from the rental company. I hate having to piecemeal insurance coverage together like that, but it beats having a claim that’s not paid.

    I feel sorry for the OP. It is ludicrous that the bill went to collections almost immediately. I put most of the blame on Avis, although I think USAA should have done a better job at helping her.

  9. Skankingmike says:

    your rental car is covered under your car insurance.

  10. fsnuffer says:

    She used her CC to pay for an upgrade, not rent a car. So if I use a coupon to get a rental car and purchase an air freshener for the windshield I should expect to be covered? As for the paperwork SNAFU who knows what happened there. Would it not have been Avis trying to collect the bill, not USAA? They are the ones who sent it to collections. Finally, if she had an existing auto policy with USAA the rental car would have been covered under that.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      But only if she had *collision* insurance, correct? My car is 12 years old so I only carry liability insurance on it.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      She used a CC to pay for the rental car ($0) and the upgrade ($X). Her bill was as follows:

      $0.00 Rental Fee
      X.00 Car Upgrade
      X.00 Total

      Her entire bill was charged to the credit card. That’s the stipulation on the card, that your entire rental be paid with the card, not that a specific dollar amount be charged.

  11. Ouze says:

    If I were one of these 3 companies, I’d delete it right after reading the second sentence.

    • Ouze says:

      hey, where did the second half of my comment go?

      My full comment was, If I were one of these 3 companies, I’d delete it right after reading the second sentence. You need to rewrite it enormously before turning it into an EECB if you want any sort of response.

    • Griking says:

      This was my opinion as well. If I ever received an email from a customer that started out like that it would go straight to the recycle bin without being read.

    • curmudgeon5 says:

      I think she did this as a blog post, not an EECB though. As a blog post, it was quite entertaining.

    • Disappointed says:

      That’s just what I was thinking. The beginning of her letter was extremely unprofessional and, yes, rude. It does no good to insult these people. If you want to be treated well and with professionalism, then treat other people well and with professionalism.

  12. superfluousK says:

    Celebrity Librarian? Like Rosie or Ellen?

  13. TBGBoodler says:

    It’s always fun to comment when I don’t know the entire story, but it seems to me that:

    1. The OP may not have car insurance (no car, no need for insurance?)

    2. The OP never received a bill before it went to collections. I think that’s the point she’s trying to make.

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      As for point one: Im trying to figure that out as well. She says “I plan to avoid anything you sell unrelated to insurance” (referring to USAA) and mentions how in the 80s, she had an old car insured with them. She also mentions how she is being billed for more than her deductible. Does she have an auto insurance policy? If so, she should be having that policy cover it, if she has the coverage that covers whatever happened in the claim.

      I would love to help her, but without any details of the claim, I have no clue what to say. I’m not accusing her of anything, but I talk to a lot of people who want to ditch their insurance companies for not covering something that the customer didn’t have coverage for.

  14. Gorbachev says:

    If she has never seen the bill for this debt, it’s not a legal debt.

    I wouldn’t pay a cent.

  15. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    It just amazes me how someone can write about a legitimate problem on this blog and people will comment and beat their chests and bellow how smart THEY are and how THEY never would have done it that way or how the ignorant victim SHOULD have done it or how it’s all the victims fault and how he/she doesn’t know/understand her problem. It looks like very few even READ the damn post thoroughly or even understand it. Very few comments are helpful, insightful, or even intelligent. Incredible.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Well, even if USAA had told me “Yes you have coverage” I would’ve read the coverage terms to make sure I was eligible. She’s faulting USAA, but they’re just the bank backing the Mastercard. The insurance is provided BY mastercard, which specifically states at least one day of the rental must be billed in full to the card.

      That didn’t happen in this case, which is why her claim has been denied and she’s been sent to collections. Even so, its a reimbursement, she should’ve paid and waited for the money. At least then her credit would’ve been intact.

  16. Raj says:

    I came close to having a similar problem a few years back, on a Mastercard no less, so now I actually buy my rental insurance from my car insurer (I live in Canada, I’m not sure you can actually do that in the USA?). Anyway, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than buying insurance from the rental agency, and there is none of the ambiguity associated with CC insurance. I’m covered through my own province, other provinces, and the US if I wish to do so….maybe consider that next time? Or, if you don’t have a car, go to the local auto association. Way better option!!

  17. dougp26364 says:

    Did she not turn this claim for damages over to her own personal insurance company? Why did the Mastercard insurance refuse the claim? Perhaps it was no a legitimate claim to begin with? Maybe a trip to small claims court against the car rental agency is in order to recover any/all expenses.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      They refused it because she didn’t pay for the car on the card, which is one of the requirements of the coverage. She paid for an upgrade, but the rental itself was free. Thus the issue.

  18. jessjj347 says:

    Okay, I have the correct article now.

    I’m curious – How much does insurance cost through the rental agency?

  19. PLATTWORX says:

    I would NEVER pay that $641 until after I had raised the roof and probably gotten it credited in the process.

    That said, I had a similar yet smaller experience. Went for lab work a year ago at the lab in my local hospital as ordered by my doctor. Asked for insurance information, provided it, am fully covered.

    About 6 months later I start getting collection letters from an agency for $115 for these labs claiming I had “ignored the hospital’s prior attempts to collect”. REALLY? My name, address and phone number were clearly printed on this collection letter and not once did I receive anything from the hospital as I would have jumped on it.

    Had to go back and forth, finally had the hospital say “well, now it may be too late to file a claim with your insurance” to which I said “and that is your fault. You had my insurance information and had months to reach out to me or my doctor for it again had it been misplaced. I am fully covered and am not paying for something because you dropped the ball.”

    They credited the charges off. Done.

  20. edosan says:

    In a related story, there appears to be such a thing as a “celebrity librarian.”

  21. BrianneG says:

    I just have to say, I love the correct use of the word assiduous. I hate getting sent to collections when I have never received a bill.

  22. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    I asked USAA about this this morning, and I just received a reply, which said in part:

    Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Master Rental coverage. […] If you are considering renting an automobile, we ask that you contact MasterCard Assistance directly for the details at 1-800-622-7747 or online at This benefit is from MasterCard not USAA.

  23. sopmodm14 says:

    looks like an epic collossal screwup

  24. vdragonmpc says:

    I second the OPs observations about USAA insurance and the Banking. I have had some minor squabbles with them but the banking is like dealing with the family friend who does ‘side work’

    True story: I had financing with USAA to buy my house years ago. We were in the process of closing with the Agent on my home and the USAA officer bailed on us while we were signing contracts. I was totally floored and it cost me a lot of bargaining power with the seller as I had already put the down payment into escrow with my agent. I had to secure a different loan at the last minute and I still have good things to say about a man named Frank Pacific of Norwest Mortgage. He made sure we got a fixed rate loan at very low cost.

    Now I have savings at USAA because the rates rock and the fees are low.

  25. Darkneuro says:

    Actually, what she gets through the USAA card is a COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER which doesn’t pay for ‘door dings’ if you can’t trace who did it. If you can trace who did it, it’s collision. If you can’t, it’s only covered under a LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER, which is essentially a comprehensive or ‘other than collision’ claim.
    In addition, her own personal vehicle insurance should have (most do) coverage for a rental vehicle…unless she has just liability and no comprehensive or collision coverage. Oh, but then there’s the deductible for that too.

  26. bwcbwc says:

    Next time check your regular auto insurance policy. Mine provides up to 14 days rental coverage per policy term.

  27. Sumtron5000 says:

    “Because the day I rented that car from Avis, a year ago, I called and asked, and was assured, yes, I would be covered.”

    I think found the problem. Covered for WHAT? Liability? Medical payments? PIP? Comprehensive? Collision? Optional transportation? And of the coverages you are getting, up to what limit? And what deductibles? Is what specifically happened to the car included under these coverages and limits?