Please sign in to post.

Need advice on damage to Italian rental car

Okay savvy travelers, I need help. We had a delightful trip to Italy last May/June but just received a bill from Hertz at Malpensa Airport for 285 euros for damage. It's true that while we were driving a rock on a freeway hit the windshield and caused a big crack. We were prepared to discuss this when dropping the car off, but they were backed up, didn't inspect the car and just took our keys. So we thought we were in the clear.

Yesterday (approx 3 months after the fact), I get the letter in the mail which also says this the second notification (nope) and they will be sending to Collections if I don't pay up. So I went to file a claim through my MasterCard that I used to rent the car which covers these sorts of things. But on the last screen of the online claim form, it asks if I declined the collision damage waiver by Hertz, which in fact we purchased for 60 euros...and says that we must decline it in accordance w/card member benefits yadayda. So I'm assuming they will not cover it now? (Although they didn't explicitly say that.) I tried to talk to a live human who knew but was unsuccessful.

And here's what I also don't understand: The letter from Hertz says "As the collision damage waiver was purchased for this rental, in accordance with the rental agreement, you are responsible for all losses and costs incurred by us if the vehicle is lost or damaged during your rental up to the non-waivable excess amount." On the reciept it says next to collision damage waiver (Excess: $1600 per incident.)

Isn't the point of buying the collision waiver so we are covered for things like this? Can Hertz come after us for damage they didn't discuss with us when we dropped off the car? Is the lesson here to never buy collision insurance because credit card companies then won't cover it? Do we have to pay it? Headed to Kauaii in a week which will involve another rental so I want to understand the best way to do this. Hopefully, others can benefit from advice on my experience.



Posted by
177 posts I'm thinking now that the collision waiver covers damage AFTER the first $1600. Correct?

Posted by
1709 posts

Thing that is confusing to me is that you paid 60.00 Euro additional for something but not sure what.
In Italy Collusion Insurance is required and included in the car price, BUT comes with a hefty deductible so yes less than 1600 Euro (that actual amount varies) is your cost/risk.
You can pay extra from Hertz or whoever else to reduce that 1600 euro to zero.
60 euro seems cheap unless you only rented for a day or two I think the Hertz insurance to reduce to zero would have been more than 60 euro.

If you declined Hertz's extra cover and just have the most basic level of collusion which Italy requires you may be able to get the credit card insurance to kick in and cover this claim. Since it is impossible in Italy to decline any coverage when renting. Make sure they actually cover Italy, a couple do but most do not and many assume incorrectly there credit card does. I have one card that does issued by Chase but others cards from Chase where they do not. Amex for example excludes Italy and Ireland but covers most of the rest of the world. The time that has passed may be an issue with the credit card as well, they may say even though you did not know the amount you would have needed to alert them there was damage within a certain window, I am not sure but suspect credit card policies are very by the letter of the contract.

The fact the car rental place did not log the damage in front of you does not matter in this case.

What scares me is if you did purchase the extra insurance from Hertz to reduce your deductible it may not matter what the deductible is/was as the policy may state that windshields are not covered. This should be somewhere in the fine print if so, but not uncommon to exclude things like tires, windshield, etc... In this case the credit card likely will be of no help since you did purchase optional insurance from the rental agency.

So there are a few points you should try and get clarity on.

Your Hawaii rental is completely different, since it is in the US, your US car insurance policy is probably your fall back if you don't pay at the counter for optional insurance.

Posted by
11847 posts

285€ is not bad for a broken windshield. It is not covered by your credit card nor the insurance you paid for, which apparently has a deductible of €1600. So best just pay it. It does not matter that you were not there for the inspection, and you agree the windshield was badly cracked. So you have no grounds for a dispute.

Posted by
4514 posts

MReynolds laid out the issues very well. You hopefully still have your rental agreement, which will spell out all the terms and conditions. The typical CDW on rentals has a deductible and exclusions. A windshield might well be an exclusion. You can also purchase the "super" CDW (called by different names) for an extra fee that typically zeros out any deductible and limits the exclusions. That the damage wasn't noted when you returned the car is irrelevant as it occurred during your rental period.

I am a little surprised that they did not charge your credit card on file directly. I assume they list some way for you to pay the damage?

Italy is a different animal on car insurance and many credit cards do not provide coverage there. Your credit card provider might be able to assist with charges that are inappropriate, but you'll have to submit paperwork (such as the rental agreement) to back up your claims.

Also know that most rental agencies charge "loss of use" fees for the time it takes to repair the damage.

If you did not save your rental agreement, then you are at their mercy of interpretation.

Posted by
177 posts

I guess the thing that is dismaying is that it appears there is no way to protect against damage that was not my fault. Nothing I could've done to prevent the rock hitting the windshield on the freeway, but it appears that kind of thing is covered by no one.

Posted by
177 posts

mreynolds—We did indeed pay 60 Euro extra for the collision damage waiver and another 60 Euro for theft protection (which I thought we denied, but apparently not per the receipt). I guess the point was to protect against catastrophic costs, due to, say, an accident that exceeded the 1600 Euro deductible. And I think I purchased this because I verified that my USAA insurance stateside does not cover international rentals.

So, good to know none of this matters for Hawaii. But I guess I need to better understand my credit card coverage for future Europe trips. In your case, since your card covers it, you wouldn't purchase any supplemental insurance?

Posted by
177 posts

Douglas—They didn't charge my card on file directly I suspect because in the interim between when I pre-paid that rental and the time we went, we had a weird fraud charge and had to close that account and re-open a new one.

Posted by
1709 posts

This is true, but Windshield Glass is handled on your home car in a similar manner if you look into it.
Your insurance at home probably has a specific glass policy, which is why if you have damaged it at home you were able to get it replaced at no out of pocket cost.

If you were to opt out of the glass policy which I imagine is possible and a rock randomly hits your windshield and causes damage it would be up to you to pay the repair costs.

Much like car at home policies vary, agency policies vary. Some exclude windshield damage even if you pay extra for zero excess / deductible / super CDW or whatever the heck they call it while other policies cover it.
Auto Europe's website details out windshield damage covered or not on their rentals. Europcar's website also lists Windshield and Tire protection separate so you understand if you have coverage on it or not.

Even if you have credit card coverage if you can get a full inclusive policy like the one Auto Europe overs for Europcar rentals at least it still may make more sense for Europe.
For credit card coverage, you have to log all damage, keep all paperwork, pay out of pocket and then be later reimbursed after filling out forms and waiting likely a month or longer. All of which takes time and can be a major hassle.
May would rather pay extra for coverage that allows them to just walk away so I guess the advise here is to know in advance exactly what you are paying extra for at the rental counter, what is covered and what is not.
Since a language barrier can make that hard and I feel rental counters will gladly upsell you on things you don't need I prefer too book online in advance with a place I can buy an inclusive policy that I can read and understand in English before I ever reach a counter.
Avis online website allows you to do so, as does Europcar, Hertz website does not.
So if with Hertz, and probably Avis and Europcar too I would go through Auto Europe and then just decline, decline at the counter.

Posted by
1859 posts

I'm not a Property Casualty Insurance Agent (here or in Italy) and I (jokingly) don't play one on TV:

But, it would be my GUESS that collision damage covers just for that, a collision. A rock (or tree) falling is typically covered under one's Comprehensive Coverage here in the states. Typically in the US, only collision insurance is required (by law) for most cars on the roads in most states (as I understand it).

Good to understand all that when the insurance is purchased, but granted, WHO stands there and reads all that mice type of page upon page when they are renting a car after a long flight??? The confusion you face is, indeed, understandable.

But, re: the point of turning in the car, knowing about the damage, then thinking you were free to go......sounds like the time to have clarified that was when the car was turned in.

One of the reasons, I absolutely HATE renting cars ANYWHERE. But, doing so, gives one more freedom to go/do as they see fit, so likely there will now be a ton of responses telling me how stupid I am to rely on public transport or private drivers. We all make our choices in what makes each of us comfortable.

E285 is not that much in the scheme of things, but frustrating (and still costly) if you expected the insurance(s) to cover it.

EDIT, and yes, mreynolds is right, some providers have the language on line to read ahead of time in the comfort of our homes, before reserving. But, even then, when we considered renting for Ireland several years ago, we found that contracts can and do vary for international providers based on company/country. So, we just hired a driver instead (and it wound up costing much less than the rental, petrol, parking, tolls, etc. and we had a nice local to tell us what we were seeing en route). Ditto for Spain.

Posted by
2764 posts

Did you have trip insurance? Sometimes those policies have some rental car coverage ( but it may have been an optional add-on). It is worth checking.

Posted by
1709 posts

I agree with Margaret that I HATE renting cars anywhere at anytime due to insurance but sometimes it is necessary,
I think if not selling Insurance rental agencies in the US and internationally would go out of business or at least be charging far more than the are. The insurance (filled with pages upon pages of fine print) and other upsells is where they make their profits and I consider the whole thing an unpleasant experience.

Posted by
5593 posts

RE: Typically in the US, only collision insurance is required (by law) for most cars on the roads in most states (as I understand it).

As Margaret notes, she is not an insurance agent. I believe the correct statement with respect to the US (realizing that each state has its own rules) is that only liability insurance is mandatory for automobiles. Both collision and comprehensive coverage are optional with respect to State mandatory coverage. The concept is that each automobile owner can determine their own risk adverseness with respect to their own property, but should you damage/injure another party, you should have the resources to make the other party financially good.

Collision coverage covers the policy holder when they are at fault. Comprehensive covers perils other than collision including falling objects, rock damage, theft.

Read your insurance policy.

RE: Headed to Kauaii (sic) in a week which will involve another rental so I want to understand the best way to do this.

Kauai is a island county of the State of Hawaii. Assuming that you have collision & comprehensive coverage of your own automobile, your rental car will likely be covered to the same extent as your insured automobile. You should be able to confirm this by checking your insurance policy. If this is correct, and you use a typical Visa/Mastercard for the rental and decline rental CDW, your Visa/Mastercard provision provide coverage is second position after your insurance policy. Again, Read your insurance policy.

Posted by
177 posts

Definitely in the unpleasant experience camp! And I will certainly pay up if it's not covered anywhere.

Gosh, aside from this though, I LOVED our two week road trip through Italy and in fact, it was so completely wonderful to be in small Tuscan towns with hardly another tourists, that I'm planning a similar car trip to eat my way through France next summer! I just don't get that much pleasure these days being herded with other tourists to all the popular spots. I really like to be off the beaten path to connect with locals and eat great meals cheaply.

But because that's the case, I really want to understand the best way to handle rentals in future to protect myself. And I'm totally guilty of not reading the fine print. After I pre-paid that Hertz Rental on my Mastercard, I did get a Bank of America Travel Awards card with no foreign transaction fees that we used all through Italy. And I just called them since I'd be using that card in the future.

Here's what they said: Yes, you have to decline collision and theft—even if there's a deductible that you'd end up paying anyway—to get the credit card company to pony up. They also said they cover all countries except Israel and Ireland so good to know (esp since Ireland is on my list). But I guess the really important thing I learned is that if I'm renting cars in Europe, I better be buying liability insurance through the rental card company (Is that pricey?) because since US car insurance doesn't typically cover international rentals, you are otherwise like an uninsured driver if say, you were in at-fault accident. Yikes!

Posted by
177 posts

So re-reading mreynold's earlier response, it sounds like (at least minimum?) liability and collision insurance is included in int'l/Italian rental car agreements. Do people feel it's wise to purchase extra liability or that's sufficient?

Thanks for answering all my questions. :) I think this is the last one!

Posted by
607 posts

I agree with Mrreynold's comments.

I am not sure how your home car insurance works, but our coverage is split into collision (accident with other car) and comprehensive (hit by a rock etc).

You need to read the fine print of the car rental agreement, but they have many different exceptions and exclusions. CDW is not even true insurance, but don't get me started (just google it). i believe window damage and tire damage is usually excluded, as well as driving on unpaved roads, certain countries etc etc. You are never 100% covered.

Just put it into perspective, think what would happen if this happened at home. Sometimes, it's cheaper or simpler just to pay for your own repair or replacement rather than go through the deductible and hassle of an insurance claim.

Posted by
4514 posts

It's possible that the rental agency tried to charge your credit card, which got denied because it changed, and then sent you the nasty "2nd" notice that they would go to a collections agency if you don't pay up.

Because my regular insurance won't cover international rentals, and I don't like to expose myself to the hassles and risks of credit card coverage, I just pony up the cost of the super CDW when renting internationally. Yes it is way overpriced and there are cheaper solutions, such as a 3rd party provider, but I'm willing to pay for the convenience and peace of mind.

I also hope you don't get any ZTL tickets in the mail. Very common for those that drive in Italy. So are speeding tickets, which are monitored by camera on highways and also very common. Frankly, those and potential damages are the risks of car rentals there. But there are times and trips where you have no other reasonable options than to rent a car.

Posted by
1878 posts

Liability insurance is required and included whenever I have rented in Europe. I don't know what the deductible is though, probably really high. Collision damage waiver is not typically included and comes with a high deductible unless you buy the super CDW. Even on my policy in the US my comprehensive deductible is $500, it just does not make sense to pay more to get it down to $100. You can buy insurance to cover glass and tires for rentals in Europe, but probably not reasonably priced. Think this is a big profit center for them as someone said.

Posted by
3437 posts

Yes, you have to pay it (if you ever want to rent from Hertz or any of its partners ever again). You admit the damage occurred while you had the vehicle, it doesn't matter when Hertz found it.

Deductibles (or Excess in Irish) are an unfortunate recent "change for your convenience" by rental car companies. Used to you bought their coverage and then you just returned the car and walked away. Now you have to make sure you buy the correct policy or policy add-ons to cover everything, especially in Europe. Collision insurance only covers damage to your vehicle when you collide with other vehicles. Liability covers damage you do to other people's property. In the US what is known as comprehensive covers all other damage to your vehicle.

Glass breakage and tire damage both are specifically excluded from most rental car insurance policies you purchase. In Europe some offer a Glass and Tire damage coverage for a fairly reasonable price. Without it, you are responsible for any damage to either that happens while you have the car rented no matter how, who, or what is the source of the damage.

In your case, you took some of the insurance offered by the rental company so yes your credit card will pay for nothing. Your own car insurance might cover the windshield, you would have to ask them. But for €285 I think that is a reasonable amount for a windshield replacement. At least they are not charging you €1500 or just short of the excess.

In Hawaii, I would go ahead and get full LDW from Hertz. This is full coverage (except tires last time I got it) and with all the various things you can run into in Hawaii (lots of loose rocks on the road chipping up your paint and theft of rental cars is very common) makes for a much more relaxing visit. Yes, it costs, but there is no hassle dealing with anyone if Hertz claims you did any damage. (And no, I don't work for Hertz or have any financial interest in the company. :-)

Posted by
5593 posts

My Oregon automobile insurance policy covers the US and Canada. (Hawaii is a state in the US).

My policy has includes "non-owner" coverage. My understanding is that "non-owned" vehicles include cars that I rent and are covered to the same extent as my insured vehicle. My "other than collision" (comprehensive) coverage includes theft and glass coverage.

Even if you buy CDW, take care not to drive the vehicle in excluded areas. If you drive "off-road" or on excluded roads, you will violate your rental agreement and be responsible for the whole works CDW or not.

For Hawaii rental car tips:

Tip #6

As far as insurance goes, expect to hear the sales pitch telling you
it's needed. We can almost hear the statistics now on Hawai'i roads
and accident costs. Don't let the rental folks talk you into anything
you don't need. Consider the following: The rental insurance they want
to sell you is temporary insurance, but the fact is, you might very
well already have it. Check with your insurance agent for your
personal vehicles to see if you're covered. If you rent cars
regularly, a non owners insurance policy can provide traditional
liability coverage to a rental car. If you do already have rental
insurance, you can save a bundle by avoiding this cost. Second, check
with the credit card company you make the purchase with, as they may
also provide you protection as a cardholder. Just be sure to clarify
with your credit card company what they cover and what the limits are.
We should also refer back to Tip #1 here. If you do off-road, any
insurance you do have (regardless of who it's with) is void - even
your own insurance will only cover you for what's legal by the rental

Posted by
1859 posts

Oh so right YOU are.....I completely used the wrong term....yes, LIABILITY is the requirement, not collision in the one cares (other than a financial company, if financed) if you wreck your car, but they do care about any damage to another person, property, etc. Thank you for correcting that!! Good thing I am not a P&C Agent (and that I don't play one on TV either).

Chris, thank you for posting your experience...while it has not been a pleasant experience for you, it has served to educate a lot of people (including me)!! And, if you decide to consider hiring a driver for your Ireland trip, I can recommend a very good one.

Happy travels to you and all.

Posted by
7082 posts

I absolutely agree with you that having exclusions on the policy leaves one feeling vulnerable, and even worse when it's a rock shot up onto your windshield by another driver going to fast! It happened to us, but luckily with a lease so we were covered nose to tail. However, knowing the rental windshield exclusion, we hold our breath anytime we have a rental and need to drive with other cars on loose gravel.

As for the cost, 285 euros is low. Our leased car was 500 euros. Yours is a bargain--grab it!

Posted by
177 posts

Thanks everyone. This has all been very illuminating! Hubby and I agreed that we will just pay up and consider that even if we added that 285 Euros to the cost of all the amazing many course meals we ate for nothing in the small towns of Italy we still got a bargain.

And yes, really hoping the other shoe doesn't drop with a whopping ZTL fine at some point...which is totally possible. Despite our best efforts, we did end up in one of those in Florence when our NAV satellite wouldn't kick in in time while leaving an underground parking lot. We just picked a direction to stop the honking from the irate Italian driver behind us and hence ended up near the Duomo! Ay yi yi! Pray for us ;)

Posted by
2353 posts

Douglas - I'm with you! I pony up for the "You can return a steering wheel & walk away" insurance! It gives a peace of mind that is priceless!

Posted by
5593 posts

One added comment. Whether renting in Italy or Hawaii or elsewhere, do a careful walk around, preferably with a rental agency person, to identify pre-existing damage. When the rental car is in a garage, windshield rock chips may not be noticeable. Rental forms usually have a space for existing damage.

Posted by
31140 posts

" I LOVED our two week road trip through Italy and in fact, it was so completely wonderful to be in small Tuscan towns with hardly another tourists, that I'm planning a similar car trip to eat my way through France next summer!"

As someone else commented, I hope you won't be getting further surprises in the mail in the form of several expensive ZTL or Traffic Tutor speeding tickets to remember your trip by. Hopefully you had an I.D.P. as you can face expensive fines for not having one (and that includes France).

Posted by
177 posts

Yep, Ken had the IDP. Fingers crossed on the ZTL fines.

Posted by
5457 posts

Another added comment: check out both your own auto insurance AND the credit card insurance BEFORE you go on a trip. My Chase card states that its auto rental insurance policy is PRIMARY coverage, not secondary to your regular auto insurance policy. If you use an AmEx card for the rental and have signed up for the extended insurance in advance, their policy covers about everything at a per-rental (not per-day) charge of $18-$20.

Posted by
2940 posts

What Laura (above) says is true, but Amex excludes Italy. We have made a claim on our Chase card and were very pleased with the handling of it. IMO, rental car insurance is one of the most byzantine aspects of travel. We do rely on our cc coverage in Italy; but before every trip, I call to verify the exact terms of the coverage.

Posted by
3696 posts

I have also used the Amex insurance on about the last 10 rentals or so. I think it is about $25 per trip now. I don't think all amex cards offer it, but you can call. You just purchase it before you go. I have never had to use it, so hopefully it would be as good as I think it would be.

I also love road trips and have seen so many amazing places that would have never been possible without my car. While there are sometimes unexpected expenses I just look at it the same way you do.... cheaper meals in villages, ability to do car picnics, etc.... for me.... I just look at it as a small price to pay for making my memorable trips priceless!

I have done many road trips all over France from Normandy to the Mediterranean... you will love it!

Posted by
4901 posts

Just a few comments...

Most credit card coverages are worth about what you pay for them, which is zero. You might be covered, but there are rules, some countries are excluded (Italy and Ireland often) you have to basically pay then fight to recover costs. Some are better than others, the American Express premium coverage is much better, but I still say if you just take full CDW with no deductible, the peace of mind is often well worth the cost.

Posted by
7201 posts

And for all these reasons, fellow travelers, I always recommend avoiding rental vehicles especially in foreign countries. The trains work great, efficient, cheap and no CDW required.

I'm sorry this happened to you, but it also happened to me and to thousands of other renters. After a small scratch on my Swiss Minivan Rental and a hefty charge on my credit card to fix it - I take the train now and have never regretted my decision to dump the rental car!

Posted by
904 posts

Two options:

Pay it and forget it.

Look at your credit card coverage that used to rent the car

Posted by
12024 posts

When I travel to Italy I like zero deductible insurance because you never know if and how the credit card is going to cover the deductible since you can't fully decline the rental company coverage there.

Posted by
5593 posts

Capital One Visa Signature "Benefits" "fine print" [which you may need a lawyer or legal degree to understand]:


What is the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (“Auto Rental CDW”)
benefit? The Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (“Auto Rental CDW”)
benefit offers insurance coverage for automobile rentals made with
your Visa Signature card. The benefit provides reimbursement (subject
to the terms and conditions in this guide) for damage due to collision
or theft up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles.

Who is eligible for this benefit?

You are eligible only if you are a valid cardholder whose name is
embossed on an eligible Visa Signature card issued in the United
States. Only you as the primary renter of the vehicle and any
additional drivers permitted by the auto rental agreement are covered.

What losses are covered?

The benefit provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the
vehicle as it was originally manufactured. Most private passenger
automobiles, minivans, and sport utility vehicles are eligible, but
some restrictions may apply. Please contact the Benefit Administrator
to inquire about a specific vehicle.

Covered losses include:

• Physical damage and/or theft of the covered rental vehicle

• Valid loss-of-use charges imposed and substantiated by the auto
rental company

• Reasonable and customary towing charges, due to covered theft or
damage, to the nearest qualified repair facility

Please Note:

This benefit only covers vehicle rental periods that neither exceed
nor are intended to exceed fifteen (15) consecutive days within your
country of residence or thirty-one (31) consecutive days outside your
country of residence.

How does this coverage work with other insurance?

Within your country of residence, this benefit supplements, and
applies excess of, any valid and collectible insurance or
reimbursement from any source. This means that, subject to the terms
and conditions of this benefit, Auto Rental CDW applies to eligible
theft or damage or expenses that are not covered by insurance or

If you do not have personal automobile insurance or or any other
insurance covering this theft or damage, this benefit reimburses you
for the covered theft or damage as well as valid administrative and
loss-ofuse charges imposed by the auto rental company and reasonable
towing charges that occur while you are responsible for the rental

If you do have personal automobile insurance or other insurance
covering this theft or damage, the Auto Rental CDW benefit reimburses
you for the deductible portion of your personal automobile insurance
and any unreimbursed portion of valid administrative and loss-of-use
charges imposed by the auto rental company, as well as reasonable
towing charges resulting from covered theft or damage of the rental
vehicle while it is your responsibility

And more....

Posted by
2 posts

Pay it and view it as a cost of travel.

What you should have done is purchased the zero deductible insurance.

All rentals in Italy are required to have insurance purchased with the rental. There is insurance like you got and there is zero deductible insurance. We got the zero deductible insurance when we rented a car for a week last summer. It was only about $20 more thru auto Europe. $217 all in for a full week in a fiat 500.

We were in an accident when we were there. Completely caused by the other guy, but they really don't care. Especially when the other guy speaks Italian and you don't. Needless to say it was probably about $2000 in damage but didn't cost me a penny because I had the zero deductible.

Now that ticket I got for driving in "zone c" in Milan.... That's a different story. That one cost about $80.

Posted by
2 posts

Your ZTL fine will show up about a year after your trip.

Ours occurred 8/7/2015
Was processed 9/30/2015
Ticket arrived 8/29/2016

They have 360 days to send it to you from the processing date.
Ours was 72 eorus

Posted by
7082 posts

What you should have done is purchased the zero deductible insurance.

Windshields are normally excluded. Even if they were included, the 285 euros may be less than a zero-deductible insurance, depending on how many days they had the car.

Posted by
2534 posts

One of the reasons that I chose a Europcar rental through Auto Europe is the extent of insurance coverage available. Neither Hertz nor Avis in Cagliari offered a non-deductible option. The price difference for my Europcar rental to increase from CDW with deductible to non- deductible for 12 days was less than $50. And it includes "* Windshield, interior, chasis, tires and roof coverage."

Renting a car anywhere in Europe, particularly in Italy, means that you must carefully review the insurance coverage through any credit card or rental agreement. Card to card benefits are different as are rental company coverages. Be certain rather than sorry.

Posted by
177 posts

Hey Philip..Thanks for the tip. This was really helpful!