Archive: Car Rental Insurance (CDW) Ripoffs
CDW now costs around $20 a day. There are creative ways to get this collision damage waiver supplement without paying through the nose via your car rental companies. But these come with pitfalls. Here's what you thought:
Do not rent from Hertz in Ireland...or if you must, do not fall for the "our computers are down" scam!
We called three times from the States to check their rates and asked for them in both US dollars and Irish Pounds (knowing the exchange rate would fluctuate). We called our Mastercard to confirm that we were covered on insurance (we were).
When we arrived in Ireland, Hertz's computers were down and they could not give us copies of the paperwork. We waited over an hour while they confirmed that our Mastercard insurance was available to us. The car they gave us was in bad shape: no bumper, sideview mirror did not work, made some awful noises, etc. We did lose a sideview mirror in our travels but were told upon returning the car that it was covered by our insurance and we owed nothing (Mastercard has confirmed this).
The computers were down (again!) when we returned
our car and were told we could wait two hours if we wanted paperwork!
Our bill arrived a month later and was double the amount we had been quoted
and confirmed. The amount they had quoted for dollars was now Irish pounds.
They calculated our bill at an exchange rate of $1.79 (it was $1.35 during
our trip and still hovers in that range). They are charging us for the
mirror despite our insurance coverage and will not return our calls.
Philadelphia, PA USA 12/22/99
AmEx has really cut back on their car rental insurance coverage, and you better check first. DO NOT assume they cover you everywhere. See the following caveat from their web page:
"Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company, Administrative Office, Green
Bay, WI. Coverage is primary outside the U.S., its territories, possessions,
and Canada; however, there is no coverage for Rental Autos rented in...Ireland,
Italy...Certain vehicles are not covered and other significant exclusions
apply. Coverage is subject to the terms, limitations, and exclusions of
Never, ever, rent a car in Italy. The mandatory insurance is more than
the rental. You had better confirm this with the agent. Instead, fly into
Germany and rent a bigger, nicer car for half the price and with insurance
provided by your credit card. The drive to Italy thru Germany and Austria
is gorgeous and only about 7 hours if you can resist stopping and sightseeing.
Rent cars cheap in Germany and travel trains cheap in Italy. And don't
forget, gas is almost $5 a gallon in Europe, but the cars usually get
great gas mileage.
Waikoloa, HI USA 10/13/99
On our recent 18-day trip to Ireland, we rented a car through Alamo
which turned out to be the Greenfield Motor people. As we drove from Dublin
to the Dingle Peninsula, we were stopped by the Guarda (police) in a road
check for appropriate licenses. Guess what! Our car rental company had
not paid the yearly license fee required of all vehicles in Ireland. The
policeman said that some rental companies do this regularly and when they
get enough tickets, they then pay the license fee. We took the ticket
to give back to the rental company and were stopped again for the same
reason a little later in the trip. Not very pleasant and not very professional.
I don't know if Alamo knows about this behavior but we would advise anyone
renting a car in Ireland from anyone, ask if the license fee has been
paid for the year.
Dundee, OR USA 10/04/99
We leased a Peuguot through Auto France and all insurances were included.
The cost of the lease was almost half of what a 77-day rental would have
cost us in Italy. Great company to deal with; excellent NEW car!
NH USA 09/15/99
We tried Travel Guard for a recent trip to Ireland. Were told at the Dun
Laoghaire pickup point that it is no good in Ireland. After resisting
(as suggested by TG), we called them and was told, "Contact us when you
return to USA — we'll refund your premium," Not very brave in helping us
to follow their advice, nor in helping us to realize the promised savings.
West Lawn, PA USA 06/23/99
I work for an international tour company, and the latest info on CDW
in Ireland is Visa is not covering any of Ireland, nor is American Express.
Mastercard may cover, but it depends on the bank. The client needs to
check with their card. We received this notice the 1st of June. Hope this
info helps a confusing situation.
Rosemont, IL USA 06/03/99
Visa Gold will not be honored in Ireland for CDW insurance, effective
March 1, 1999. Please check directly with your Visa bank. Am told that
some MasterCard banks may still honor the insurance fee waiver.
Atlantic City, nj USA 06/01/99
I spent some time trying to clarify whether or not my Visa Gold or personal insurance would cover liability. I asked the worst case question: "What if I total the car and kill someone?" My insurance agent wasn't sure what I planned... In any case my own auto insurance (and homeowner policy) is no good outside of the U.S. Visa Gold covers CDW - the "totalling the car" part of the equation.
Then I returned to the Auto Europe website and read the fine print.
Unlimited third party liability is required in France and thus included
in the basic rental rate. Maybe that's why it costs so much to rent a
car in France.
Portland, OR USA 04/13/99
If you're planning on renting a car in Europe and using your Gold card's CDW, get a copy of your credit card's Guide to Services & Benefits-this can save you some headaches and tell you exactly what's covered and what's not. Some of the things that might NOT be covered are things like: rentals for more than a month, not reporting your accident within 20 days of the incident, losses from leaving the car running unattended, losses from vehicles rented in Ireland.
And yes, there are some documents required should you have an accident — e.g.
accident report form, claim document, rental contracts, repair estimates/bills,
police reports, etc. Some ask for 2 photographs of the damaged vehicle.
If you pay extra money for your credit card's Gold version, you're paying
for the CDW anyway...might as well use it if you can!
Tacoma, WA USA 04/06/99
Usually my own car insurance covers rentals — but not in Europe. I had
the CDW coverage through my Visa Gold card and I was most surprised by
this: I was automatically covered (by Hertz) for LIABILITY with the rental.
It was not listed on the rental contract, nor did the agent tell me so.
But I checked with my travel agent AND I called the Hertz customer service
number before I left home to absolutely make sure I was covered for liability-and
I was. No one tells you this and it's not listed anywhere. If I didn't
ask 3 times, I wouldn't have believed it because it's not advertised at
Denver, CO USA 03/02/99
I always buy the CDW, even though I have a credit card that would cover
the expense. Why? Imagine yourself in a foreign country, most likely not
fluent in the language, and you're shaken up from an accident. When you
realize what the credit card company requires from you to make a claim
(copies of police reports, damage estimates, etc. — the list is remarkably
long), it is more than worth it to just pay for the CDW and chalk it up
to part of the expense for your trip. Remember too that Visa will reimburse
you (if you have provided the proper documentation), so you have to come
up with the money to pay the car rental company at the time you give back
the car. Why ruin your trip this way? Just pay the excessive fees and
Minneapolis, MN USA 02/19/99
If you do decide to get CDW through the rental car company, ask if there
is a deductible. Even with "complete" CDW coverage, there can be a deductible!
This is true regardless of which country you are in or which company you
are renting from. The company representatives in the U. S. and overseas
do not volunteer this information. These deductibles seem to range between
$150 and $400. A few smaller companies which have this deductible also
offer, for an additional daily charge, coverage which covers this deductible,
if you can follow that.
Skip the CDW. The best way to get your car covered is through a VISA Gold
card. I went to Europe last June and supplied the rental agency (EuroCar
in Frankfurt) with the VISA Gold contract and away I went. They cover
you for 30 days, as long as the car rental is chargeed to the Visa.
Arie van Vierzen
Auburn, CA USA 01/06/99
Tourists all over the world seem to get taken by the CDW insurance scam or "hidden charges" when they arrive to pick up their car. It happens to foreign tourists visiting the U.S.A., too (we were so embarrassed when it happened to friends visiting us from England).
We avoided the hassle and the hidden charges by visiting our local foreign
car dealer. Many times, the dealer has their home office or sister dealer
in the country you are visiting, and will arrange a rental vehicle for
you from their stock. Our nearby VW dealer arranged to have an Audi 80
in Frankfurt. The vehicle was fully insured for everything and the cost
was less than going through our insurance company's travel department
or through a car rental agency. There were no hidden charges and we prepaid
in the U.S. We were even picked up at the airport and driven to the rental
CA USA 01/01/99
I worked for Enterprise Rent A Car here in the U.S. and I know that
CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance is optional. Most car rental companies
are vultures when it comes to selling CDW — if you tell tourists that they
are not covered, they will believe you. Fact is that the rental agent
doesn't know anymore about your credit card coverage than you do if you
don't check your policy. All they know is that they can make more money
off a uninformed tourist. My suggestion is to check with your credit card
company to see if you are fully covered, INCLUDING windshields, tires,
etc. Some credit card companies cover you for Collision Damage only if
you have full coverage — then it is used to supplement your existing coverage.
Also check with your liability carrier for international travel. I hope
this information helps from someone that has been on the "inside" of the
car rental world
Seattle, WA USA 12/21/98
We rented a car in England (OUTSIDE of London of course). We knew enough
to be wary of the car rental company isnurance, and were told by AmEx
to refuse their policy. At the last minute, we panicked, and agreed to
the insurance (this negates AmEx responsibility). When the final bill
arrived several months later, we realized the insurance cost amounted
to more than the car rental cost! I recommend practicing saying 'no' many
times before walking in to get your vehicle!
Chicago, IL USA 12/11/98
On a recent trip to SCotland, my wife and I were all set to waive the
expensive insurance offered by the rental agency and let my charge card
cover it. However, the person at the counter informed me that, although
the credit card would cover damage to both cars in a collision, it would
not cover liability insurance if we hit someone and injured them, or they
sued us. In the end I spent an extra $150 for the liability insurance,
but still saved somewhat since I didn't have to take out the full comprehensive
insurance from the rental car company.
Raleigh, NC USA 11/13/98
Working for a company that managed the CDW coverage for Visa Gold cards,
I learned a few things on how to avoid problems via frustrated callers.
1.) PLEASE, take the time to read the contract. I can't count the number of people who said "I declined coverage" but initialed to accept it. Know what you're signing. If you accept it on the contract, you're not covered through your card.
2.) If the contract is not in English, see if anyone can translate it for you, so you know what you're signing and agreeing to.
3.) Call your CC before you leave home. Know your coverage. Does it cover windshields (by far the biggest # of claims, especially in Italy and Ireland), flat tires (next biggest), road service, theft, etc. Is there a deductible? (not usually, but sometimes.)
Hope this this helps a little! Enjoy the trip!
Denver, CO USA 10/20/98