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Car rental excess coverage-recommendations?

I am renting a car from Enterprise. They tell me that the first 1000 pounds of body damage and wheel tire damage is not part of the insurance that comes with the car, but that I can buy the excess coverage for 20 pounds a day. So about 400 pounds for 1000 pounds coverage on a 20 day rental. They use the scare tactic of saying 1 out of 3 renters have this sort of damage. Pricey for what you get.

Are there cheaper alternatives other than going without this coverage? TIA.

Posted by
4 posts

Agree with the use of scare tactics by rental companies. We are renting a car in Dijon in May and American Express has an economic car rental coverage…..19.95 to 24.95 for $ 100,000 coverage. Seems quite reasonable.

Posted by
3988 posts

I wouldn’t say it’s a scare tactic, rather a sales pitch. It all depends on your risk tolerance whether to take it or not. We’ve never gotten the excess protection in the UK and fortunately have never had an issue. Driving on the left when you’re not used to it, it is easy to scrape and bump the curbs. We do get the CDW either through the rental company or Allianz since nowadays the price is similar.

Posted by
4654 posts

I always take out a separate car hire excess insurance which usually covers me for an annual, multi trip period for around £40 covering Europe, slightly more to include the US. There's only one company that I can find that covers US residents and that is A quote for cover for a 20 day period in the UK came back as £99 for standard cover and £115 for deluxe. That policy is an annual wordwide cover for a maximum of 60 days (including car rental in your home country), a 20 day UK only cover came out as slightly more expensive for some reason.

Worth having a look as it's certainly cheaper than the rental company's excess waiver fee.

Posted by
503 posts

I would agree that it is expensive but you have to realize that what you are paying for is peace of mind of not having to worry if anything happens. On the other side, the alternate insurance would probably be cheaper but you probably will have to pay for the damages out of pocket and then be reimbursed by the external insurance. It's your choice. My opinion

Posted by
5533 posts

Most U.K. garages operated by the main brand dealerships charge £100 per hour in labour costs, so it’s not surprising that there’s a hefty excess.

I too have an annual policy that covers me anywhere in Europe, which is cheaper than paying the excess for a single trip from the car hirer.

Posted by
3654 posts

Well, tire damage is an extra, not part of CDW, so they are giving you some kind of a lump quote for multiple things.

I would never buy collision or extra liability. What does your credit card provide?

  1. Go through your credit cards and find the best coverage. As I state repeatedly, the Chase cards (United Airlines, Sappphire) cover all damage, even glass or tires, in every country, at no charge, for up to a certain number of days, I think 28 (check). Other policies restrict more things: countries, glass or tires, shorter days, etc. There's an extra policy that you can buy through Amex cards if you feel more comfortable actually paying something, $15-$25 per rental (not per day), with a limit of days to the rental, check as your 20 days is getting close.

  2. It is abnormal for Enterprise to say that there is some coverage included in the base price. AFAIK this doesn't happen (unless maybe if you are an EU or UK resident)-- wait a minute, it happened to me at Thrifty in Mexico, but has not at Enterprise in the UK. You need to reject paying for extra collision coverage to use credit card coverage. Coverage included in the base price (this happens with off brands but not normally a major brand like Enterprise) is OK and does not void the credit card insurance. In this instance the credit card insurance covers just the excess/deductible.

  3. Bring the printed credit card policy with you, both to show to the rental car agent and then you have the list of paperwork you will need to assemble for a claim, easier to start before you return home.

  4. If you are using a third party (like AutoEurope, not recommended by me) then it's all different and you will need a different procedure to use credit card insurance.

  5. Remember to not sign anything, authorizing the repair of the car in writing means they can already charge you for all the damage, and you may not get their cooperation on a claim since then they are just doing you a favor, they already have their money.

I suspect the 1 out of 3 number is not true.

There's the line about "peace of mind" but I am not sure how true it is. I you are the worrying kind you will worry anyway that the insurance won't pay, that you inadvertently broke some clause in the contract, or that the damage incurred is excluded.

Posted by
27710 posts

there could also be a transatlantic language issue in play here.

The term excess is not meaning extra.

The term excess in the UK means the same as deductible or co-payment means in the US. It is the amount you have to pay before the insurance can begin to pay out.

Posted by
8603 posts

My experience with Enterprise (US only) is they make like Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass when they do the return inspection. Most of the other agencies I have used do a quick walk around ans are more interested in the gas level, than door dings.

Be sure you have your insurance sorted out before you pick up the car.

Posted by
215 posts

I would get it..... I always get it- lets just say the country where I've dinged up cars the most has been England, so its worth it to not get a surprise "bill" for some rim scratch or damage, or body damage, even if slight. I've dinged cars there 2/3 times either on a curb, or while attempting to park (hit a "warning pole"- totally warped the side panel and got paint all over it).

Some places you can get the same level of coverage (you'd have to do your homework of course), but you'll prob still have to fork over the $$$$ and then ask for reimbursement if you do happen to scratch it up.

Posted by
3304 posts

Some incorrect information about the Amex car insurance has been posted here.

1: The limit on the number of days is 40, so 20 is not a problem.

2: You do not have to pay for damage and wait to be reimbursed. The works is that you must use your Amex card for the rental. When you file your claim, the damage charge is placed in dispute, so no interest or late fees accrue. Amex settles with the rental company, and the damage charges disappear. The voice of experience.

Posted by
4654 posts

My experience with Enterprise (US only) is they make like Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass when they do the return inspection.

I've rented from Enterprise in the UK on a number of occasions. Never experienced an inspection on return.

Posted by
5843 posts

Keep in mind that there are two types of rental car insurance you can get through your credit card. Most cards include as a "benefit" free rental car coverage, and then some cards offer a premium coverage, which you must enroll in, and pay an additional cost for, when you rent a car. AMEX Premium Rental Insurance is an example of the latter, you pay a flat fee for the rental, others may charge by the day or week.

To me, it is get what you pay for, I do not rely on the free coverage, if you do, then understand what is covered, what insurance you must decline from the rental car company, and what the claims procedure is. To just assume you are "covered" will likely mean in the event of a claim you will not have something like a Police or Damage report, and you will be fighting with both the rental car company and your credit card.

I do use the AMEX premium on some rentals, including the UK. In other Countries like Italy, I take the rental companies insurance, full coverage.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all the input. Yes, "excess" means "deductible" in the UK. Seems that insurance, less the deductible is included in car rentals in that country (my experience renting there with Alamo as well). I guess the advantage that one pays for with Enterprise's excess coverage is that you wouldn't have to pay and submit a claim for reimbursement with your own insurer.
Pretty expensive convenience though and given the "hard sell," must be a good profit item for the company.

It sounds like the American Express card premium insurance coverage (about $25 per entire rental period as long as one uses their card to pay the rental) is the cost effective way to go. I will have to read Amex's Ts and Cs to see if I have to pay and get reimbursed or how they deal with claims. Btw, I agree that Enterprise does use a magnifying glass approach to inspect returning cars.

Posted by
3654 posts

I have had a guy at Enterprise in England crawl under the car looking for damage upon return (?) but I frequently use them in the US and never anything but a simple walk around.

I have damaged a lot of cars overseas (scraped hubcaps, seat belt caught in door caused a deep dent with paint scratched off) and had the entire side mirror busted off in Edinburgh but miraculously the whole thing snapped back into place, still fully operational and not marked up. But so far nothing made an issue even when seen by the inspector upon return. Except for once a scraped hubcap in Mexico was challenged but we had pictures to prove it was pre-existing damage. So I have experience with damage but no experience with any claims.

I used to use the Amex policy, but it has some funkiness:

You have to sign up for it in advance, and since the charge for it hits when the rental charge hits, you have no indication during rental that the policy "took" and is really in effect.

It's not good in several countries, like Italy and New Zealand. UK is OK.

It WILL NOT be activated by third party rentals like AutoEurope and maybe Priceline, so beware if paying in advance to another vendor.

If there are later charges like tolls, a one way fee, or administrative fees for parking fines or camera fines, you will get a second (or third) $25 charge on your card and when you call for what seems a simple correction you will get bounced back and forth between Amex and the insurance branch in Green Bay about whose responsibility it is to remove the extra charges. Done that circus twice.

So after these hassles with Amex and extra charges I stopped using it. There is of course no problem with the free insurance offered by most US credit cards, search this website for many successful reports of using it. Free can be better quality than paying. And always take phone pictures of the car at rental (phone pictures are easy to zoom into on the spot) in case you have an issue with pre-existing damage.

I would take a screen capture or 2 proving that the basic insurance is included in the rental and can't be waived.

Edit: I did a dummy Enterprise rental at Heathrow, and it comes up with no basic insurance. Verify that you are not choosing basic CDW in your reservation.

2nd edit: The Amex premium policy does include theft from vehicle coverage and medical insurance for occupants of vehicle after a crash.

Posted by
658 posts

This is anecdotal and third-hand, but a traveler on a recent "Join Us In France" podcast episode relayed a story where he paid for damage up front, expecting to be reimbursed by his CC company (Barclay?). The card company never reimbursed him because they said they only pay once they can confirm the repairs have been made. They were unable to confirm that after the fact, and after he had paid the rental company. Personally, I have never bought the rental company's coverage, and always counted on using my CC that promises coverage. I've never had an issue or needed to use it, but now I'm re-thinking my plans. YMMV.

Posted by
3654 posts

Phil: I addressed that issue, never authorize payment of damage, #5 above, although you have added an interesting twist, that insurance doesn’t pay for the reduction in value of the vehicle from damage, only for repairs and certain admin costs.