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How to insure a rental car in Italy?

Planning to rent a car for a week or more in Italy and having trouble making sense of insurance options. When I spoke with a human being at Hertz, I was told that CDW and theft insurance is mandatory in Italy, and it was included in the price quote, which came in lower speaking directly with Hertz than on Expedia. However it's not much "insurance" as renter is liable for first 1300 euros in collision damage and 2000 euros in theft costs. Were I to charge the rental on a CITIBANK American Airlines Mastercard and DECLINE the required coverage, which maybe isn't possible, I would be covered for $100,000 in physical damage or theft.

Question is--if you have rented a car in Italy, how have you gotten around this Catch 22 situation to ensure that you have reasonable coverage on the rental car. I am assuming in Italy, they will try to convince me to accept THEIR super waiver coverage, but are there other alternatives?

Posted by
1666 posts

We rented directly through Hertz and IIRC, used their SuperCover plan. I don't recall it being that expensive, though when I checked the receipt is no longer available online. Check with your domestic insurance agent. Balance saving money with adequate coverage.

Posted by
2334 posts

My credit cards do not cover rental car insurance in Italy, but they do cover it in Spain, France, and most other European countries. I have heard this from other people as well, it seems to be a common thing for credit cards to not insure. First step would be to check with your card to make sure Italy is covered.

I think some trip insurance companies like Travel Guard offer rental car insurance - this would be an avenue to check out to see if it is cheaper than through Hertz or whichever rental agency you end up using. I just buy supplemental insurance from the rental car company, but have not had to use it.

Posted by
740 posts

Italy is the only place that we have traveled that we take the CDW offered by the rental car agency. We use Auto Europe, as recommended on this RS site, and have never looked back.

Posted by
6543 posts

Like was said, CDW insurance is mandatory in Italy by govt. regulations. The good news is that the rates are now reasonable than most cities/countries. Where the rental companies get to your pocket is by throwing in theft insurance on luggage--a hi profit racket. Refuse any other coverages other than what CDW is required.
Most renter's auto policies back home are secondary to the CDW. Then the credit card coverages kick in if applicable. Out of pocket deductibles seldom come into force.

Posted by
2898 posts

I’m pretty sure that theft insurance is not required by the Italian government. The required liability insurance is non-negotiable, so don’t waste any energy fretting about it.

On a recent trip, we relied on our Chase/United Airlines Visa card. I called the company to make sure that the required insurance did not invalidate the cc insurance requirement that their insurance be primary. It didn’t.
As luck would have it, we had minor damage done while we parked, to the tune of $400. I filed a claim, and I was completely reimbursed in about 6 weeks.
A couple of other points . . You should look on AutoEurope or Kemwel to see if the Hertz deal is the best one. I’ll spare you the details, but my own experience with Hertz-Italy (not the one referenced above) has led me to avoid them whenever possible.

Posted by
2521 posts

I usually rent through AutoEurope. If you check the various suppliers offered, some of them offer different insurance packages from deductibles to no deductible. I usually choose Europcar since they offer full non-deductible packages at reasonable prices. Last year my car in Sardinia cost $60 more for the "super coverage." I'll be picking up a Europcar rental - thru AutoEurope - in two weeks in Naples and a compact class VW Polo for the week including full coverage is $160.98.

Posted by
1700 posts

No matter what 3rd party type coverage you have (credit card, trip insurance, home auto, etc..) there is a difference in the level of hassle involved and thus the potential for stress so consider that as well.

Hertz and all of the others do offer Zero deductible coverage or Super CDW or whatever term they use. In the case of Hertz if booking directly it can only be purchased at the counter so exact cost in advance is not possible. Other brokers like Auto Europe offer zero deductible bookings online for Hertz and other brand's cars.
This is the zero stress solution

Anything else involves you paying first for the damage (at least up to the deductible) and then filing a claim to get reimbursed.
Likely needing receipts and you will be the go between for doing all of that not Hertz and not your credit card company.
It could be a couple of months before you are reimbursed and being in another country this likely will be at least a little painful.

To answer your question: if your card terms states you must decline for their coverage to apply and you have no option to decline as in Italy and do not purchase anything additional at the counter. I suspect you would be fine.

Posted by
1700 posts

Edmond: yes you do need an International Driver's Permit
but NOT 12 months before you travel, that is absolutely not true and someone is confusing things

I believe the International Driver's Permit for US based readers which AAA sells is really only a translation of your own state's driver's license to an International format is valid for only 12 months of the issued date. That is where the 12 months comes into play

it only costs about $20 and is available at any AAA office if you are a member there or not. The whole process of getting one takes about 20 minutes.

A rental car company is unlikely to ask for one, but if you are at anytime while driving stopped by the Police you are required to have one or face a fine so is definitely something you should get.

I do not know where CTA is ; but most airport rental companies have a drop off box and a drop off area for after hours drop off.
Usually you park your car and drop off the keys in a drop box.
Very easy but does make one worry that no one checks you in for damage, etc..
In such a situation I would be tempted to have zero deductible insurance.

Posted by
5 posts

American Express offers an optional FULL coverage policy for an additional $18.00 per rental, but NOT in Italy or Ireland, though if you rent the car outside of Italy, you can be covered driving it in Italy. Go figure. Unfortunately, my timing doesn't permit renting a car in France or neighboring to drive to my destination (near Turin), and besides additional cost of all that probably is likely greater than buying the full coverage from Hertz.

Anyone know why Ireland and Italy are exempted from the AMEX program? Everywhere else in Europe where I have rented cars, I have used it and it provides a nice piece of mind.

Posted by
1700 posts

Nina: do yourself a favor and go to AutoEurope.com and compare their Hertz zero deductible rate, it may be competitive and relieve your stress if you are thinking about going into and back to France just to get some coverage that may cost $100.

Yes, Amex's policy is said to be the best of the credit card policies.
I can only assume Amex excludes Ireland, Italy as well as I believe Jamaica, New Zealand a couple of others do to higher claim figures in those countries, so I think there is a reason I don't think they drew those countries names out of a hat.

Posted by
5378 posts

This May we rented from Hertz (via a AAA discount) and used Chase Reserve card which includes primary insurance on auto rentals INCLUDING Italy. I called Chase before we left and got confirmation that the non-declinable CDW on the Hertz contact was fine and did not invalidate the Chase insurance. No damage, so I can't comment on claims process, but not paying for zero-deductible was a nice savings.

Posted by
2898 posts

Just fyi, Nina, Israel and, I think, Jamaica, are also excluded from the AMEX program. A rep once told me it was because they didn’t have insurance companies in those countries that they did business with - - or something like that. As they say - - whatever.

Posted by
261 posts

"Were I to charge the rental on a CITIBANK American Airlines Mastercard and DECLINE the required coverage"

In Italy, you cannot decline what is mandatory. CDW and Theft Protection are mandatory in Italy, so most agency websites post rates which include the mandatory insurance. It's not a separate, itemized fee. You can't refuse to pay it or even calculate it. AutoEurope does not play marketing games, they guarantee their posted rates include the mandatory insurance. Some websites like to play games and show lower rates to grab attention. You find out in the fine print (if you read it) that the rate shown does not include the mandatory insurance fee. Something to look out for if the price seems too good to be true, or you attempt to do a price match with a competitor.

If your credit card offers insurance of rental cars in Italy, the credit card coverage can cover any and all deductibles, possibly as a secondary insurance. You need to read the fine print on each credit card's policy. I'm not sure, but I don't think MasterCard offers insurance for Italy.

https://www.autoeurope.com/credit-card-rental-car-insurance/

Posted by
11981 posts

You can't decline CDW and Theft in Italy. Also check the fine print of your credit card agreement. You might discover that Italy is not covered, along another handful of countries. Most credit cards exclude Italy from their coverage probably because it is not possible to decline the CDW/Theft option.

I usually rent through the following two consolidators (both are now part of the same corporate group):
www.autoeurope.com
www.kemwel.com
CDW and Theft Insurance is included in their quotes, however you are right that the deductibles are hefty (1200-2000 euro).
So what I do, is select the quote that is 'zero deductible'.
To do so you need to leave the zero deductible box check marked in the filters options of the websites mentioned above.
The zero deductible option adds only about $4 per day to the cost of the rental, therefore a worthwhile investment for your piece of mind.
Go ahead and use the above consolidators. I've always been happy with their service (and I used both, in spite of being basically the same company, since prices vary between the two depending on the dates)

Posted by
1112 posts

If your credit card doesn't cover you in Italy with primary insurance and no foreign exchange transaction fee, shop around. I have a Chase United Airlines Explorer card that offers both, and while it's $100. a year, the joining bonus is almost half of a RT frequent flyer trip to Europe.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Mike, I have the same credit card, and will check again, but I don't think it will cover the car in Italy if I cannot decline the CDW. That's the catch!

In the end, it boils down to money, and little else--buy the no deductible coverage, but it would nice to find a lower cost alternative solution if such a thing exists. It is also quite difficult to gauge from the online sites if what they post as a price really is what you will pay in the end.

When I spoke to the Hertz person today, she gave me a price of $170.26 including the CDW and theft WITH deductible. On AutoEurope, there is not an option for no deductible with Hertz, and the prices are significantly higher for a week's rental, and higher still on Rentalcars.com.

Italy rental car companies in the northern part of the country also charge a winterization tax this time of the year which seems to cover chains, but I cannot find out from the different websites if the cars are equipped with snow tires or not, which in most cases obviate the need for chains.

Posted by
901 posts

I have always rented through Auto Europe and paid their CDW insurance fee, in many European countries. Came in very worthwhile last summer when I turned in the car with one side scraped by a valet who drove too close to a pillar in a parking lot with very narrow parking spaces. Worth every penny!

Posted by
5 posts

Roberto, Thanks for the recommendation for Auto Europe--they are a bit more, but price seems to be inclusive which is good for peace of mind.

My understanding is that if you cannot decline CDW, your credit card, regardless of which one it is (I think even the super premium ones), will not insure your car rental. Which, according to a human being at AutoEurope, is why the American Express $18/rental (not day) full coverage plan excludes Italy. Ireland is apparently excluded because so many cars come back damaged from the country's narrow roadways and soft shoulders. (You'd think that justification would exclude ensuring rental cars in Boston too, but that's another story.) Also checked with some travel insurance companies to see about supplementary rental car insurance, but that seemed to be a no go.

Posted by
1018 posts

We rent a car every year in Italy through Autoeurope and ALWAYS purchase the zero deductible for the peace of mind and it is worth every penny. Generally, American credit card companies do not provide insurance coverage in Italy, Israel, Ireland, and another place. Once you drive in Italy you will understand why they do not provide coverage.

You will also need an International Driving Permit, but not to rent only to drive in Italy.

Buon viaggio,

Posted by
1112 posts

ninafrankel, Do call Chase directly. When I did they said Italy was covered as long as I didn't agree to extra insurance (i.e. the included CDW was not a disqualifier).

Posted by
261 posts

"ninafrankel, Do call Chase directly."

I'm sorry, but I just tried to do that, in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

IMO, Chase is the worst bank in the world, and I feel sorry for anyone trying to illicit precise information needed for travel abroad. I feel sorry for anyone who pays $100 a year for a bank card and must deal with such horrible customer service.

I just spent thirty minutes, being pushed around the globe to three different customer service representatives, including one in India. None of them could answer the question regarding CDW coverage in Italy. One representative did not know what CDW meant, yet claimed he was a benefit specialist. The last representative I spoke with, Mark Mendoza, claimed to be a supervisor. He said, because the Chase Explorer Card is a Visa, you have to speak to Visa to get the CDW coverage information. By the time he was ready to give me that 800 number, I was too frustrated to continue. Someone will have to take this query from here. Good luck.

Posted by
2786 posts

Some issues here, but generally this is an area where you just have to pick something and go with it. It's like milk, just buy something, skim, 1%, 2%, whatever. It will all work out.

World Mastercard covers Italy, as do other some cards (this is a type of Mastercard offered by many banks with identical benefits).

I know of no instance where a person used their credit card to cover the deductible when purchasing mandatory basic CDW and had that process fail, someone above has posted success. It should always work unless there's an Italy exclusion.

People suggest calling and asking about credit card benefits-- this is usually a bad tactic. Find your benefits contract on the web and read it yourself, or call and have it emailed to you. Print it out and carry it. Calling people on the phone more often than not serves up a string of idiots who tell you the wrong thing, and they are not liable for their answers.

Posted by
261 posts

I just called a VISA supervisor to get to the bottom of this. Explanations for coverage are complicated, but my Visa Rep was terrific. VISA handles the CDW benefit for car rentals, not the card's issuing bank. VISA can't provide precise information about coverage in Italy without you providing a specific credit card number.

As a general rule, in Italy, because CDW is mandatory, VISA provides "supplemental" CDW coverage, no matter the status of the card. They won't define what "supplemental" means until you provide your specific card number. The benefit details vary from card to card, bank to bank, card category to card category. Banks are in the business to make money. They never make things easy.

For my particular VISA card, supplemental means that I am covered for CDW deductibles in Italy. This, plus "no foreign transaction fee" are the only reasons I keep and use this card. (Foreign transaction fees are a bank benefit, not a VISA benefit.)

Without a card number, it's very difficult to extract precise information to answer a question like the OP's. For VISA and MASTERCARD users, it's best to call them directly to get precise CDW benefit information for Italy.

VISA U.S. 1-800-847-2911
MASTERCARD U.S. 1-800-627-8372

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for this really useful information. My car insurance in US does not cover rentals abroad so need coverage to be primary not secondary.

Will check w VISA. Really appreciate you providing the numbers. Often just finding the right number to call is a challenge!

Incidentally, I am using Farmers Insurance for my US auto coverage which claims their exclusion is standard.

Are there car insurance companies that DO provide coverage for rental cars abroad?

Posted by
261 posts

Finding the right number is the most important part of the battle.

For U.S. customers renting abroad, the CDW benefit offered by most bank credit cards is "primary." It's very difficult to find a personal car insurance policy in the U.S. that will cover car rentals abroad.

Posted by
2521 posts

Nina, if you rent through AutoEurope, go back to their website every few weeks and check the current price of your rental. For the same car and coverage, mine dropped from $238 to $187 to $161 and they immediately refunded the difference. Great company with whom to do business.

Posted by
2786 posts

My car insurance in US does not cover rentals abroad so need coverage to be primary not secondary.

This is true for everyone I know of except poster Jane from Chicago. You could send her a message, I think she got some kind of a rider on her domestic policy. Getting foreign acceptance of a domestic USA policy is an additional hurdle if you do go this way.

As travel snob points out, there's no double coverage so nothing is secondary.

Posted by
1700 posts

Putting a claim on your US Auto Insurance policy for something that is between $250 - $1200 makes ZERO sense even if they cover it!!!
You probably have a $250 or $500 deductible on that policy and filing a claim WILL increase your rate in future years.
On the upper end the Italy policy covers anything over 1200 Euro or so.
In between that and your deductible range for me would be an area I would not submit a claim!

As to your big concern, I have read online from card holders that their credit card policy did work when filing a claim in Italy (even though declining the mandatory coverage was not possible) As long as you don't purchase anything optional.
I have no first hand experience with it.
Those online reports also mostly all complained about it being a total PITA taking months and hassles to get there money reimbursed to them.
For me I concluded it is a major hassle so unless you cannot afford to do so it is just easier to purchase the Zero Deductible insurance from the rental car to eliminate the stress ; as I mentioned previously.
Hertz will only quote that coverage at the counter which makes them a bit of pain to book with unless through someone like AutoEurope. By all accounts in Italy: Hertz, Europcar and Avis are the 3 good ones. There are others with a good name in the US but bad reputation in Italy.

Personally I have done both methods overseas, sometimes I let it ride if the trip is short and don't expect any claims other times if the trip is long I consider it money well spent to be one less thing to think about.

As far as snow chains, they are required in some parts of Italy at certain times of year, you must have either them or specific Snow tires or can be heavily fined.
I am not sure if any rental places include Snow Tires, I imagine they cost extra and you would have to ask for them as an option.