Auto rental collision damage waiver

The issue of using credit card CDW insurance has come up in various ways here, and I've recently had a discussion about it with another poster. What I would like to know is what experiences people have had, whether positive or negative, trying to collect from credit card insurance (such as VISA, MC and AMEX) for damages after declining the rental company's CDW. I have used my CC as the basis for CDW coverage for over 20 years of car rentals in France, but having been reading more and more cautions about doing so. I've only had to resort to attempting to collect once, for a very minor matter, and my experience was pretty frustrating. So what kinds of experiences have others had (I do know about the mirror in Ireland and the AMEX "diminished value" matter from other posters)? I noticed that www.gemut.com, which some have recommended using for rentals, suggests declining CDW and relying on credit card insurance.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Since no one has replied to my question, I'll reply myself with my one experience 3 years ago. As I was returning my rental car (Europcar rented through Kemwel or Auto Europe) in Annecy, I hit the curb in front of the hotel that was the designated return location (the rental agency was closed), and popped the tire, being so thrilled to finally have found the place w/o a map. I told the hotel desk clerk about what happened, and he said just leave the car where it was. The car sat there for several days (it was Saturday of a long weekend), then disappeared on Tuesday. As I expected, my final bill included a charge for tire replacement: 150 Euros. I filed a claim with my CC (VISA) when I got home, and received a letter requesting a bunch of documentation, most of which didn't exist (police report, accident report, photos). I sent what I had (contract, bill from Europcar), and had several back and forths with VISA. Ultimately they said the only thing they really needed was some documentation from Europcar detailing how they arrived at the 150 Euro charge (e.g., an actual repair bill, or a table showing standard charges they used for damage). Eventually I gave up, since Europcar never responded, even after Kemwel/AutoEurope contacted them asking for the info.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

I usually get the extra CDW even though I know my Visa CC has the necessary collision damage. I was listening to the Travel Guys on the radio this past weekend and they had a guest on named Ed Perkins from www.smartertravel.com. He was listing the countries that neither Visa, MC or Amex covers with their collision coverage. Surprisingly, Ireland, Israel and Italy are three of those countries. It made me think twice about some aspects of covering your auto rental collision damage with you CC. Here's a LINK to an article from Smarter Travel on the subject. http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/best-credit-card-for-car-rentals.html?id=12188440

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Not surprising, Larry. MC's insurance didn't cover me in Ireland even at a time that they were advertising that it did, they gave me written proof, and they confirmed by phone before my trip.

Posted by Vanessa
Kingston, Washington, USA
79 posts

Robert;
I am currently working on a claim for wheel damage and a small scratch on a rental car in Germany this past May/June. When we returned the car to Avis at Frankfurt airport, they charged my VISA $1200.00 for damages and gave me a slip of paper to submit to recover the amount from VISA. AS you know that documentation was not enough to satisfy VISA. I've been working to gather the required documentation from Avis and finally last week received the actual repair invoice. They also credited my VISA for $228.00 which they over charged me on the damages. Now I'm waiting for VISA to reimburse me for the remainder of the charged for the damages. It's been a long process with many emails to Avis and calls to Visa but having persistence paid off.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Robert, I've used credit card coverage for rental car insurance in the past, and have never had to make any claims so I had no problems with it. However, I found the extensive and complicated "Terms & Conditions" to be a darn nuisance! With the cards I was using, the rental car coverage was provided by a third party, so I had to deal with them on any questions that I had. Among the terms are that reservations and all rental costs have to be charged to the same card. As I usually travel with several cards, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of which one I used for the reservation. I finally decided that the whole thing was too complicated and too much of a "pain", so these days I just get the full CDW package offered by the rental firm, preferably with no deductible. That provides peace of mind although there are often a few exclusions with that also (ie: tires and mirrors), and of course it's expensive. The only time I had to deal with insurance was a rental in the U.K. When I returned the car the agent stated there was damage to the back, possibly by "backing into" something in a car park. I don't remember doing that, but it was hard to argue with the dents in the back. Since I had opted for the full CDW package, I walked away and never heard anything more. There were no additional charges on my credit card. As the others have noted, credit card insurance coverage is often not available in Italy and some other countries, so if driving there you'll have to buy the rental firm insurance. Cheers!

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Good for you following through Vanessa. I probably would have done so if my claim had been more than the 150 Euro tire replacement, but the amount of effort was getting frustrating with no guarantee I'd succeed in getting what I needed. And Ken, I agree about the terms and conditions being so complicated. I'm a lawyer and therefore used to reading gobbledegook, but reading through the terms and conditions again recently made my head spin. As to the need to charge everything to one cc, I'm very conscious of that and now set aside one card for that purpose before a trip.

Posted by ritesh
lisbon, portugal, portugal
4 posts

I just returned from Europe Vacation (last month) and found that EuropCar has billed Euro 700 on my credit card.
When on vacation, I had rented a car from EuropCar on an agreement which I had bought from AutoEurope - the insurance had complete Collision Damage Waiver with liability to deductible to USD 0.0. I had a minor accident when I reared a car that stopped mid way at a round about when driving to Paris. It caused damage to front right bonnet of my car as well. However, under full protection I am liable to Zero surcharge so how did Auto Europe charge me anything?

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

It sounds like you bought the AutoEurope "Insurance Package Rate", rather than the Basic Rate (which is what I've always bought and then relied on my credit card). I just checked AutoEurope's site, and the Insurance Package rate says there is a deductible of 700 Euros. So it looks like the damage must have been 700 Euros or more, and then you got charged the 700 Euro deductible. But from your post it looks like you believe you purchased zero deductible. From the AutoEurope web site it looks like the only way that can be done is to purchase "Super CDW" directly from the rental agency. I think this is something that must be somewhat new. Years ago when I would look into the difference between the insurance rate from AutoEurope and Kemwel and the basic rate, the insurance rate had zero deductible. In any event, you should check your rental documents and follow-up with Auto Europe if you think they're in error. In my experience, Auto Europe and Kemwel have been pretty good about dealing with problems.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

Two things these posts point out: if you have an accident, the rental car company will not give a rip about any 3rd-party coverage (such as CC) that you might have. They will want their reimbursement from YOU, and it will be totally up to YOU to sort things out with your 3rd-party carrier. Second, if you're going to rely on 3rd-party coverage, BE SURE you know the documentation they'll require in case you have a claim. This may include police reports, photos of the damage, detailed repair bills, etc. If you're already back home in Luckenbach, Texas, from your Italian vacation, these things can be impossible to obtain. But if you buy the - admittedly expensive - "Super CDW" from the rental car company, you can basically total the car and, when you check out, just flip the keys onto the counter and tell them to have a nice weekend, and that's the end of it.

Posted by Vanessa
Kingston, Washington, USA
79 posts

Tom makes good points. This was our 4th time renting a car in Germany but the first time with some damage. It makes us think more about using the wonderful network of trains to travel the next time.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Vanessa, you've made a great point. I wish we could do that on our France trips, but the train network in France isn't all that good anymore, particularly in rural France. It's great from city to city, but that's about it, and bus service rarely makes up for it. In 25 or so trips to France, we did 2 totally w/o a car, after carefully researching train and bus routes. And while I didn't regret it either time, we did waste a lot of time because of poor connections and long delays between buses. We've also spent a few weeks, sometimes a week at a time, sometimes a few days, in cities w/o a car, which often limited us, especially in smaller cities (i.e. Nimes, Annecy). Not a problem in Paris or Lyon, though.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

We rented a car in Italy 3 or 4 years ago and got some scrapes on it when our GPS mislead us into a dead-end street in Sorrento ... We had declined the CDW when we picked up the vehicle from autoreuropa in Rome. CIBC Aerogold Visa covered all the damage to the car, no deductible for us to pay. We did spent a good amount of time on the phone with Visa while we were still in Italy to confirm the procedures but other than that it was pretty smooth sailing.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Beatrix, that's one of the few really positive experiences I've heard about collecting from credit card insurance. Maybe I'll continue to rely on cc insurance and hope for the best.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

If there are any charges, legitimate or otherwise, the rental company will assess them against your Visa or Amex card, which is also providing the insurance, not against your bank account, unless someone is foolish enough to use a debit card. Even if a claim goes on your card initially, the cc company will remove it from your statement when paying the claim. If it is a contested charge, there could be problems, just as with an insurance company at home. Even so, I would expect that Visa or Amex would be more likely to side with the customer and reject a false or excessive claim. Regardless, if you don't want to risk the time and effort, not to mention cost, get Super CDW and just accept the extra cost of the rental as part of your total trip cost. But I would avoid deductible CDW; that is just an invitation for a rental agent to fabricate a claim up to that amount.

Posted by Debbie
Ashburn, Virginia, United States
3 posts

We rented from Avis in Germany (Avis Deutschland) and had some damage to the car. The Avis location where we rented the car charged our credit card for the repairs, sent us complete paperwork documenting the damage and charges, and we submitted the information to Visa for the insurance. A week or two later there was a charge on our credit card from Avis for approximately the same amount. When I called Avis to see why we were billed again the person on the phone said they didn't have a record of being charged already. I don't know how Avis runs their international operations but it seems to me if they can see that there were charges, they should also see that there was payment! As requested by the "customer service" person, I sent them copies of our credit card billing to prove we had already paid but they replied that we had to pay for the damages. I replied that that is true but that we did already. Since then I have not heard back from them. I again sent the documentation to Avis customer service as well as to the local place where we rented in Germany and to the email address listed on the paperwork from Avis Deutschland. No reply from anyone as of yet and the charges remain on our card. Very annoying that Avis USA and Avis Deutschland apparently don't talk to each other! We have not heard back from Visa yet on the insurance part.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

From what I've read in other posts about Hertz, it is likely that there's no connection between Avis USA and German Avis rental agencies, which could be part of the problem. In any event, since both charges are on a credit card, it shouldn't be too hard to get your CC company to remove the duplicate charge. The real issue will be whether insurance will pay.

Posted by Vanessa
Kingston, Washington, USA
79 posts

I just received notification from Visa that the reimbursement check is in the mail. It took 3 months and many requests from Avis in Germany to get the proper paper work, but it was worth the effort. We also received an invoice for the charges that we prepaid paid for. I had already cancelled the credit card used for that trip, so not sure what Avis will do with that revelation. If we rent a car in the future, I will avoid Avis. They were very difficult to deal with.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

The most positive story I've seen so far, Vanessa. Congratulations! Maybe I'll continue to rely on CC insurance, hope for the best, and make sure to get every possible document if something does happen.

Posted by Debbie
Ashburn, Virginia, United States
3 posts

To follow up on my post about Avis USA and Avis Deutschland... We eventually were refunded the charges made by Avis USA that were a duplicate of Deutschland. As far as the damage to the car, there were two incidents: one where we got a scrape on the side of the car (don't accept a minivan if they don't have a compact car and you're driving around small villages!!) and damage when my dear husband put regular gas in the diesel engine (yeah, I know). After reviewing the paperwork I could find no trace of Avis charging us for the repairs of the scrape, which left the repair of the engine; Visa did not reimburse us for the repair costs for the gas issue because "damage to the renal vehicle resulted from the cardholder's lack of reasonable care in protecting the vehicle." Note to everyone and their traveling companions: Make sure whoever puts the fuel in the car uses the right kind!!! We ended up paying about $6,000 for that mistake. If you put diesel fuel in a regular engine the repair isn't much, but regular in a diesel engine is disaster!

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

" If you put diesel fuel in a regular engine..." Luckily this is impossible to do in most modern cars, because the nozzle on a diesel pump is too large to fit into the gas filler neck.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8734 posts

Luckily this is impossible to do in most modern cars, because the nozzle on a diesel pump is too large to fit into the gas filler neck. Not everywhere. I've never had the experience, probably because I am very careful when filling my cars - we have a petrol one and a diesel one - but I regularly hear stories of mixups, in both directions. There is really only one certain answer - read and double check, and don't rely on the pump or hose colour, and get to know the local name for the fuel you need.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

What Nigel said. I've put half a squirt of one or the other in the wrong tank more times than I can remember. I've bought gas in Scotland twice this week and the nozzle sizes are identical. The only safe thing to do is trace the hose back right before you squeeze the handle. For general info, you can put almost a gallon of gas in a small diesel tank, realize you've screwed up, put diesel in until it overflows, and still slink away. It runs hot/rough, but improves if you squish in more diesel every time you have a bit of room. Just my understanding, not something I've actually done, of course.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2172 posts

Most European vehicles have a standard diesel nozzle that is no different than the gas nozzle. It IS different from the larger, high-pressure TRUCK diesel pumps that won't fit on small cars. But those truck pumps are clearly signed (usually trucks have their own area for truck refueling anyway).

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

My source was Wikipedia (ok, don't laugh), which says the following: "Motorists occasionally pump gasoline into a diesel car by accident. The converse is almost impossible because diesel pumps have a large nozzle with a diameter of 15?16 inches (23.8 mm) which does not fit the 13?16-inch (20.6 mm) filler, and the nozzles are protected by a lock mechanism or a liftable flap."

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Call the CDC. There's been a resurgence of the Steve Disease. All roads between LA and Chicago are now closed. Citizens are urged to remain inside and wear protective masks when venturing outdoors. In the interim, the internet plug has been yanked from Tom's house and the basement filled in This has been an alert from the Emergency Broadcast System and your local Conelrad station.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

When I bought my first diesel car my mechanic told me that if I ever accidently filled the tank with regular gas I should just add a quart of oil to the gas tank. Diesel is "gazoil." Gas-oil. I never had to use that trick.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

My hat is off to anyone old enough to remember Conelrad. :)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8734 posts

Swan, Diesel burns, gasoline (petrol) explodes. All that adding oil to a tank of gasoline in a disel car will do is add lovely blue smoke to dead blowed up diesel engine.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8734 posts

Tom, don't your radios all have the CD Civil Defense symbol on the AM band?

Posted by Debbie
Ashburn, Virginia, United States
3 posts

The annoying part of the regular gas / diesel engine thing was that I couldn't yell at my husband because he felt stupid enough already for doing that.

Posted by john
Barnard Castle, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
54 posts

A couple of points most nozzles in the UK at petrol stations are different sizes making it harder to put diesel in petrol cars....however even in the UK small tiny cars can be diesel..so check! The book. Driving in th UK a guide for visitors has more on this at amazon!

With regard to insurance, I always take out the insurance because you then don't have any hassles or worries on your holiday. In the UK the police have automatic number plate recognition cameras, now it is unlikely your hire car company will allow you to drive away without correct insurance but near in mind the police in police cars have ANPR cameras and they are situated over motorway bridges etc which alarm in the police control room when an illegal car goes past.

In the UK most police forces have a zero tolerance policy on uninsured cars. If the police do not hold details of your insurance on the database ..you may be detained and your car impounded...whilst impounded you have to pay per day something like £100 for your car to be looked after. If YOU annot provide adequate evidence of insurance you may be fined and your car may be crushed. Because it's a hire car this is unlikely, but trust me it is irrelevant the type age cost or value if the police find an illegal car they have crushed brand new bentleys rolls Royce's etc...make sure your insurance is in order and you have some form of breakdown cover..

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
772 posts

CDW coverage via a credit card is a rare benefit in Europe, maybe only in top level premium products. Hence CDW is often included in an all in rental price. Oddly this is not significantly more expensive than the CDW-exclusive tastes offered to American residents; indeed it is sometimes cheaper.