"Tire damage, unless damaged by fire, malicious mischief or vandalism, or stolen or unless the loss be coincident with a covered loss [is not covered by, for lack of a better term, credit card car insurance]."
That's the explanation from the Chubb Insurance Company which handles claims for my credit card company, Citi Bank.
I've rented dozens of cars, domestically and internationally, always relying on the car insurance provided by my credit card and refusing any additional insurance from the rental agent, but this is the first time I've had a claim. And that claim was denied. (Click this link to read about our misadventure with the tire in Dinan, France.)
Their rationale doesn't make much sense to me as it is certainly impossible to drive a car with a flat tire and I thought that's what insurance was supposed to do--cover the loss and make sure you get back on the road again--but the company does not share my point of view.
Luckily, our rental company, Avis, was more understanding. I explained to them that the French agent we called on Sunday had insisted the tire would be replaced for free, but the agent on Monday had refused to honor that promise. In consideration for receiving such conflicting information, Avis credited us with $100 for which we are grateful.(The total tire bill was $432 plus a $12 foreign transaction fee. Remember, we had to buy two tires because French law requires that there be equal wear on each tire.)
While I'm not pleased with the outcome of this particular incident, I still will continue to perform car rental transactions with my credit card as I believe the insurance would cover me in a more serious accident. And I'm hoping David and I never again have a flat tire.
I have learned that everything must be documented. You must have copies of the rental agreement, both in the language of the country you're visiting and in English: photos of the damage; copies of any police reports; and any other supporting documents you can think of. Make copies of all of it and make sure you send the information to the company within 45 days.
Other than getting a flat tire, our Ford Focus performed admirably. It took diesel gas, got around 55 miles to the gallon, and was nimble and fun to drive.