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Auto Rentals Including Mandatory partial Collision Waiver

I'm pricing a car rental in Italy during the summer of 2016. Some of the attractive rates (with the large companies like Avis and Hertz) include CDW with a $5,000 or so deductible. Of course, they are anxious to sell additional insurance for complete coverage, for $25 or more dollars a DAY. The reservation interface makes it very clear that the partial CDW CANNOT be declined.

I presume that this would invalidate my credit card's offer of primary collision coverage during the rental. Does anyone have any experience or web citations on this subject? Thank you.

Posted by
5697 posts

Does your credit card actually cover Italy? On my Chase Explorer, Italy is specifically excluded. If it DOES cover Italy, which card is it ?

Posted by
3623 posts

Yes, I have just that experience; however, I urge you to check with your own cc company to make sure what gives with them. We have a Chase/United card. They told me to decline the additional insurance, and that the mandatory coverage would not invalidate insurance offered as a card holder benefit. We sustained some minor damage. - -small dent, but over 400 euros worth. Our cc was charged. About 6 weeks after filing the claim, a credit for the total amount appeared on our statement. Some people will quibble over having to front the repair money and get reimbursed later. To me it's well worth saving the hundreds of $$ the rental companies charge for complete coverage.

One further caveat, if you do have any sort of damage, be sure to get and keep all documentation. We had no police report because the dent happened while the car was parked. The paperwork from the rental company, with notation of the damage, was deemed sufficient in our case.

Yet another point: I just saw Laura's posting. More reason to talk with a rep from your cc company. And btw, I know that AMEX also specifically excludes Italy.

Posted by
7569 posts

Good question Laura. I have an AARP Visa card, with a Chip, issued by Chase. The Visa website has this exclusion: "Theft or damage from rental transactions that originated in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland." So I believe this covers Italy. Reference: https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/card-benefits.html

Posted by
3210 posts

In Italy the CDW is mandatory and, as mentioned, many credit cards that offer a CDW exclude Italy. My suggestion is to check with AutoEurope. I rented an economy model (Ford Fiesta) with full coverage - no deductible - for two weeks for $484. I've used AE numerous times and they are often recommended in the forums. BTW not all companies offer full coverage as a bundled option. Europcar does so I would check their rates. Any questions? Call AE customer service -VERY helpful.

EDIT: There was only about a $60 up-charge to go from deductible to no-deductible.

Posted by
2393 posts

Rosalyn - was there a large hold put on your card from the rental agency? Most do that if you decline their coverage.

Posted by
3623 posts

@Christi
The rental ended in April, 2015; and I actually dumped the paper work just a couple of weeks ago, in a fit of housekeeping enthusiasm. Therefore, I'm not sure about the amount of the hold. I think it was 2000 euros. Since cc's typically have a much higher limit, that would in no way hamper our activities. Anyway, we never experienced a problem from that.

Posted by
32268 posts

Tim,

You might find it helpful to contact Gemut.com for information on car rentals. They have a toll free number and are very helpful. Their free car rental guide states....

"In both Italy and Israel, CDW and theft coverage must be purchased from the rental company. Some credit cards offer coverage in Italy, but it means nothing because all major rental companies require the purchase of CDW and theft insurance. The only question left is will your credit card reimburse the deductible in case of damage or theft? Apparently Visa will, but confirm with them. This a murky area."

I assume you're aware of the usual potentially expensive "caveats" regarding rental cars in Italy?

Posted by
3623 posts

I want to disagree with Philip about checking with Autoeurope re additional insurance. #1 They are in the business of selling insurance. #2 Even with the best of intentions, their agents can't know the details of every card out there. They may give erroneous information without even realizing they are doing so. Card benefits vary greatly. We've already had some posters say theirs excludes Italy, while I and someone else found that ours covers Italy. Call your own cc company to get accurate information.

Posted by
703 posts

tim, what you may want to investigate ( if you haven't already) is actually what exclusions there are are under ANY of the CDW insurances. eg: from what I have researched it seems like a nightmare. from my understanding even with full CDW coverage by some rental companies , they exclude things like under carriage, roof damage etc. there are 'other insurance providers' that offer coverage for things not covered by the so called 'full' insurance of the rental car companies. I stand corrected on this, but worth checking. perhaps your credit card 'coverage' may also have exclusions ?

IMO its shocking how they hide the fine print on their web sites and also only tell you what is available when you front the desk at the rental office.

Posted by
7569 posts

I'll comment that Expedia offered me their third-party CDW for, I think, $11 a day, when I reserved Hertz (Civitaveccia to FCO, 4 days) at the best price with them. I decided that the product (I mean, from Expedia) was a pig-in-a-poke, and it wasn't even clear if it was "Primary." I actually thought, for four days, I might spring for the Hertz insurance at their desk.

Now one post says that the rental company insurance is actually incomplete? In the US, rental companies often use the term "walk-away" to indicate the renter's lack of exposure if they buy the CDW. But a verbal promise is not binding.

Posted by
3210 posts

Rosalyn, please note that opting for non-deductible at AutoEurope has nothing to do with which credit card you are using. My reference to speaking to a human being was to determine which rentals might offer, at a premium, a non deductible rental option not if a particular cc covered rentals in Italy. I don't understand your criticism. I also don't comprehend why you believe that they are "selling insurance." The coverage is through the auto rental company, not AutoEurope.

Posted by
3623 posts

So, Philip, you think the insurance offered by Autoeurope is a non-profit convenience? Believe what you wish.

On the issue of exclusions raised by another poster . . We always rent through AE or Kemwel, a related company. I don't remember with which I did this; but once I checked the "fine print" of the so-called inclusive insurance, no-deductible offer and found, as that poster has pointed out, that windows, tires, and undercarriage were excluded. In 2001 we actually had a windowshield break from a pebble kicked up by another vehicle. The rental company charged us over $400 (reimbursed by our AMEX card). As they say, I did the math. If we were to buy the extra insurance and have a similar event, we'd be out the couple of hundred $$ for the coverage and still have to pay for the damage. And, I hope I won't be judged as too cynical when I say that I believe the rental companies charge more when individuals have to pay than when insurance companies pay.
My 3 experiences using cc insurance coverage have all been very positive, one in Italy, one in Spain, and one in Croatia. I stand by my advice. Call your own cc company to verify your coverage; don't rely on what an AE agent tells you. Read the fine print on the insurance offer. Then, make your decision.

Posted by
2916 posts

Tim, I think at one point CDW in Europe was basically "walk away" insurance. Now there seem to be many different levels of coverage/deductibles, depending on what you want and are willing to pay for. I haven't rented a car in the US in many years, so maybe CDW is still "walk away" here.

Posted by
8239 posts

AutoEurope is a consolidator which is a wholesale buyer of "days" from rental car companies. They're well run and legitimate, however you'll actually be dealing with the rental car agency in Europe. They're just a reservation service.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is mandatory on cars rented in Italy--by government regulations. It's not mandatory in other European countries, and that's where your credit card might come into force. CDW rates in Italy are unusually cheap vs. other countries which makes me think the Italian government has a cap on CDW charges.
Where car rental companies get you in Italy is on a personal property theft coverage that pays in the case of your personal belongings are stolen from the rental car. They'll automatically this in your contract if you don't look close--and you can turn it down at the time you sign the documents.
In most situations, your personal auto insurance coverage at home is your primary insurance--if you have it. And the Gold credit card coverage would be secondary to your personal auto insurance policy. The CDW coverage would be 3rd in line to payoff in the case of an accident.

What so many people don't realize is that CDW is a big part of the car rental agency's profits. And if it makes you feel any better, most car rental companies don't even have any comp or collision insurance on their cars. Damages are paid out of the CDW kitty.
(I used to administrate auto manufacturers' largest rental fleets in the U.S.)

Posted by
11294 posts

Do check with Kemwel as well as the other companies mentioned (AutoEurope, Gemut, Hertz, Europcar, etc). For my trip, Kemwel had by far the best price for a "zero deductible" rental. As said above, some things were not included (we paid extra at the rental counter to get tire and window coverage).

One thing that's been mentioned in other threads, but not yet in this one: if you do use your credit card for coverage instead of taking full insurance from the rental company, the rental company may place a very large hold on the card, making it difficult or impossible to use for anything else during the trip. Be sure to have another card you can use for other things.

Posted by
3210 posts

Rosalyn, a lot changes in 15 years. If you check AE or Kemwel websites it states:

Coverage is provided by the rental company, as indicated. Additional coverage may be available for purchase from the rental company.

Also, these packages now include windows, tires and undercarriage damage. I've dealt with CDW coverage through my CC companies twice in Italy and once in France. In all three cases (2 with Visa, 1 with Amex) none of the costs except for the damage itself were reimbursed that included substantial administrative fees other miscellaneous charges. Getting necessary paperwork from rental companies and waiting for translations of same were time consuming and took months before I received reimbursements from CC companies. Either way, it's a crapshoot. Best thing is drive carefully so you don't have to avail yourself of the insurance. I usually depend on CC coverage but traveling on smaller roads in Sardinia causes more concern so I've opted for paying for full coverage.

Posted by
3623 posts

@Philip
At the risk of running this into the ground, I reiterate that my experience has been different. 3 experiences: Spain (cracked windshield), Croatia and Italy (dents acquired while car was parked). Insurers were AMEX, AMEX Premium Rental Insurance, and Chase. With those involving AMEX, I didn't even have to front the charges. Chase reimbursed me within 6 weeks of filing. In none of these cases was there any fee left for me to pay. The maximum hold placed on my cards was 2000 euros; not enough to impact our use, though we also carry at least one other card. Also, I have said, and repeat that anyone using their cc for insurance needs to check with their provider. There is no consistency.
P.S. Driving carefully has nothing to do with it. Why would anyone not do so?
P.P.S. The AMEX Premium Rental insurance, though not available for Italy, is the best bargain around. For $18 - 25 (depends on your state of residence) you are covered for up to 42 days. I admit that I know nothing about how insurance rates are determined; but cynic that I am, it makes me wonder How AMEX can offer, for $18 what the rental companies charge $10+/day for.

Posted by
7569 posts

We haven't left on the trip yet, but I decided to buy Travelex's "Transportation Pak" ($59), because we have used them for general Travel Insurance for 20 years. This "Pak" includes CDW for car rentals.

I called them today because it was hard to determine whether glass damage or a flat tire would be covered - it doesn't sound (I mean, as an American auto insurance customer for 40 years .... ) like "Collision" damage. I have seen "Road Service", including tire and rim damage as a daily $2.95 option at some rental companies. (Just like air travel no longer includes a seat for free, car rental no longer includes a driveable car!)

They said that glass would be covered (as in a rock on the highway with no other car to cite or record in an accident report), but that a flat tire would not. That's just the person I got at the phone bank, of course.

Posted by
3210 posts

Rosalyn, thanks for the additional info. I've been an Amex air mile hoarder for years (in 20 flights since 2001, I've only bought 2 tickets) but until they did away with their 3% FX fee, I never used them in Europe or Canada. Result of which, I was unaware of their premium auto insurance coverage. As a Florida resident the fee is only $12.25/$15.25 per rental. A BARGAIN. Only wish I could avail myself of it in my Italian excursion. Thanks again. Sharing and learning on this forum is fantastic!

Posted by
11294 posts

Philip - the Amex coverage plan is not offered for Italy.

Posted by
7569 posts

I eventually chose Avis/Budget because the office and car park are just steps from the Civitavecchia cruise port shuttle bus stop. (Rick's description of the walk to town or the train station greatly understates the distance, cobbles, heat, stairs, and annoyance. I rarely slam Rick, BTW.)

I was very pleased that Budget offered all the "additional" coverages (colision waiver, theft, and road service) down to Zero for 26 Euros per day. Because I expected that, rather than being broadsided at the last minute, I can live comfortably with it. The problem is that you cannot get that number (26) on the internet in advance. Evin if you could get it on the phone, I wouldn't want to invest the 45 minutes it might take.

Nice diesel Fiat 500L with good clutch and brake condition, even windshield washer fluid.