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Auto Insurance for Car Rentals in France

We are traveling to Provence for the last two weeks in September and plan to rent a car. Do car rentals in France come with their own insurance factored into the rental cost or do you need to pay extra? One of our credit cards offers a collision deductible waiver. Do different rental agencies offer different levels of insurance coverage or is it the same for each agency?

Posted by
760 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
Some quotes include insurance others don't. That sure helped didn't it?

Personally, I never buy insurance when I rent a car in Europe. I rent using a credit card that covers car rentals for up to 30 days per rental. I once rented a car for 3 days, returned it, picked it up under a new contract the next day and drove it for 29 days. But you MUST rent the car and pick it up using the same card AND turn down all insurance they offer for your credit card insurance to be in force. In nearly forty years of renting cars I have had one claim (accident) and the card reimbursed me fully with a minimum of paperwork.

If you want their insurance coverage...typically offers will provide several offers per car type. No ins., insurance with a large deductible, and all inclusive ins. Of course, the more insurance the more it costs.

Where to go for good starting quotes? AutoEurope. They will search for you and give you good quality quotes. then try Europcar on your own. If you go to consumer reviews, remember that some one who had a bad experience will go to the effort to report it. Those with a good experience are less likely to report it. I have on occasion phoned both of them to ask for help and found them very helpful. It was as if they had lived in the cities I was asking about starting my rental.

And I shouldn't say this, in some countries where the language is just too much, I have gone to the Europcar office for information. They often speak the best English in town. Don't interfere when they have customers!

wayne iNWI

Posted by
162 posts

I would rebut and say always "Get full coverage." It's expensive but it removes all worry and by all accounts dealing with reimbursements, deductibles and claims from across the ocean is a huge hassle.

Driving in Provence removes some of the terrors of driving in big cities - steep parking garages with tight corners etc. but I would still go full coverage. No worries, no hassles, no parking lot damage while visiting a site and no mysterious claims of damage made after the fact.

If you don't I would extensively document the condition of the car when picked up and dropped off with pictures.

Enjoy your trip!
=Tod

PS Get full coverage.

Posted by
21 posts

We never get the insurance in the US, but we did when we rented in France. We decided it was worth the peace of mind.

Posted by
169 posts

I agree about getting the insurance. We got the fullest coverage when renting our car for Provence from the AutoEurope site. I think we went with Hertz. There are other forum threads about this that helped us make that decision so you might want to do a search to read more of them before making your own decision.

Posted by
1109 posts

Most US credit card insurance is secondary coverage only, you are responsible for paying for all damages and are subsequently reimbursed by the insurance. The reimbursement is determined by the insurer, it may or may not cover actual damages. Anyone who has actually made a claim using US credit card insurance knows that claims require a lot of paperwork and patience.

Insurance through the rental company can still have very high deductibles for which you are responsible. Anyone who wants peace of mind, will have fully read the fine print and completely understood what is and what is not covered. Simply paying an expensive premium is not necessarily being fully covered against loss.

I recommend the insurance offered to American Express card holders. This is primary coverage and costs as little as $25 for up to 45 days of coverage.

Everyone renting a car in France should know about the constat or accident report. A blank constat should be in the glove box, the back side is in English. A completed constat is required to be submitted with any insurance claim.

Posted by
288 posts

I agree about getting the insurance. We got the fullest coverage when renting our car for Provence from the AutoEurope site.

I do the same, renting from AutoEurope. Read carefully the terms; I think everything ends up being covered except for some reason the glass.

Posted by
357 posts

We never get the insurance in the US, but we did when we rented in
France. We decided it was worth the peace of mind.

I have the same philosophy. In the US (and Canada), I selectively choose which add-on coverage to get when I am renting a car -- I know that my credit card offers collision-damage waiver coverage but not third-party liability, etc., so I pick and choose based on what's on offer.

However, when I have rented in France, I choose the coverage option that is the most comprehensive, though of course this increases the cost, up to doubling the total cost of the car rental.

My thought is basically that I speak English (and decent French, but it's obviously not up to the level of my English) and am located in the US, so handling the follow-up claim paperwork, talking to insurance companies, etc., in North America is something I would feel comfortable doing. But if an accident or other damage happens to me in France, I'm much less familiar with local systems and procedures (let alone the language barrier) so I'm willing to pay more to have fewer things to deal with.

Posted by
11743 posts

I regularly use the CDW on my Amex card. I'd used it at least the last four times in France. Last trip (last June) I had my first accident in Europe. I rear ended a big semi that started into a roundabout then stopped abruptly halfway in. I was looking over my shoulder for traffic to see if I needed to yield.

The truck didn't even stop, other than three more abrupt stops before finally getting through the roundabout (new driver? transmission problems?). I don't think he even realized my tiny bug of a car hit the bar on the back of his trailer.

Amex worked as advertised. I had to provide documentation as described in their insurance contract (French accident report, photos, notify them ASAP). In fact, I forgot to get photos but they accepted a photo of the vehicle and my diagram of exactly what damage I observed.

I went to Ireland in May. Amex premium insurance doesn't work there but their regular does. I didn't have any accidents or scratches, so wasn't able to test the insurance. After looking more closely, I'm not sure I need the premium insurance for the types of cars I rent?

Posted by
737 posts

I'm in the camp of buying the all inclusive insurance in France. Peace of mind for sure. Driving in the small Provencal towns is maddening enough!