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Car Rental Liability Insurance

I just learned that my U.S. car insurance does not cover me for a rental car in Europe. While I will be using credit card or rental car company coverage for CDW/Theft/Personal Injury and have health insurance and renter's insurance, I am realizing I will not have ANY liability insurance while in Europe and should probably get an umbrella policy or something similar.

Can anyone suggest a way to cover this liability? Is Umbrella the way to go? Can I get some kind of per event international travel liability coverage? The travel insurances I've seen are for personal protection but do not involve liability protection. Thanks.

Posted by
1357 posts

As far as I know, and check with the rental company, the CDW does cover liability, but credit card coverage does not. However, with the CDW, there's usually a high deductible, between 1000-1500 euro.

To cover that, there's a couple of options. You can get the super CDW through the rental company, which is pricey. Or you can get excess insurance through a 3rd party. We did that on our most recent trip, buying excess coverage through insurance4carhire.com. We put a lovely scratch down the side of the car, so I'm in the process of filing a claim with them.

Something to keep in mind, though, that I didn't think of -- we usually don't use our credit cards much when we're overseas, mostly just for the rental car, so I've never worried much about the fees they charged for foreign transactions. With the excess insurance, the deductible PLUS whatever fees your card levies will be charged to your car, and the insurance company will send you a check for the deductible. The fees from my credit card company for the deductible were close to $50.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you Maureen and Kent.

Kent. My concern is that when I rent this car in Europe, I will not have any liability coverage for injury or damage to another person (opoosing driver in a car accident) or their property (I wreck someone else's car while driving my rental).

My understanding is that the CDW (Regular, SUper, Extended) and Theft/Personal Injury coverage offered by the rental car companies DO NOT amount to any kind of liability coverage for me in case I hurt someone or something outside of my rental car.

I also understand that the Amex premium car rental protection which I am planning to use as my primary insurance with the rental (and waiving the CDW/Theft/PIP offered by the rental car agency) does not provide for any kind of liability coverage like my U.S. car insurance policy does.

So since my U.S. car insurance (GEICO) does not travel with me beyond the U.S. and Canada borders, I am concerned that this is a huge liability for me.

Looking forward to your response. I suspect based on the article linked below, that this is something many or most of us are not aware of. I keep seeing that Aflac duck in my dreams.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/business/businessspecial3/18insure.html?scp=1&sq=umbrella%20insurance&st=cse

Posted by
23 posts

Kent. Appreciate the speedy reply and look forward to your thoughtful response.

I'm renting in Munich City and going to Austria, Hungary and Czech then dropping off at Munich Airport.

I am still in shock that for all these years I was essentially driving "naked" through Europe and Asia with no liability coverage!

This is something I am going to look for in my next car insurance policy. Do you also know of any U.S. insurer that extends this kind of "traditional liability coverage" beyond our shores?

Posted by
10344 posts

Eric: It appears that the two NY Times articles don't address umbrella policy coverage in Europe?

To me, that's the issue here--say someone has umbrella liability coverage in the US, but the issue is: does their US umbrella liability coverage cover them in Europe; and if not, what's the situation if you're driving a rental car in Europe and injure someone?

This question could obviously be of more than mild interest to people with significant assets who don't want to bet their retirement on not having an auto accident, with personal injuries to someone else, in Europe.

Posted by
23 posts

Kent.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much of anything regarding this topic and its the weekend so I'll have to wait to speak to my agent. Those 2 links are the closest thing I could find to any discussion about liability coverage on rentals.

I'm curious to see what your research turns up. Hopefully its a non-startr and this type of liability is built-in. Can't see how Rick would overlook what I think most of us would consider a major travel issue.

Posted by
23 posts

Kent.

My understanding is that umbrella policies provide world-wide coverage so they're ideal for these types of situations. But the question remains, what if we don't have an umbrella policy? I am going to speak with my agent and some of the rental car companies, especially the one we are planning on going with, Sixt. I also have a German friend from Munich, who we are going to visit, so I will seek his advice as well and repost when I have something.

Posted by
23 posts

Kent.

It appears that car rental in Europe is a safer proposition than we thought. Unnecessary paranoia on my part. I just spoke with a Sixt representative in the UK and after an initial surprise at my question they directed me to their terms and conditions which I thought I had thoroughly reviewed but apparently didn't. As Rick alluded to ever so casually in your quoted text, European car rental agencies provide automatic third party liability coverage. An example of the Sixt policy is linked below.

Please refer to Section F which starts by stating...'The Insurance cover for the rented vehicle extends to a third party liability insurance with a maximum amount of cover for personal injuries and damage to property of 50million euros. The maximum amount of cover per injured person is 8 million euros and is limited to Europe.'
http://www.sixt.com/further-information/terms-conditions/

This coverage is automatic and therefore independent of whether a renter opts for the rental agency's CDW, Extended CDW, Super CDW, Theft Protection or Personal Injury Protection. So essentially we can go back to just worrying about ourselves, our passengers and our own rented vehicle.

But still, I do think I will look into getting that Umbrella Policy after all. And, I am planning on using the Amex premium car rental protection as my primary coverage instead of the company's CDW/TP/PIP options.

Posted by
850 posts

Eric, there has been some mention of this a couple of times that I remember. I asked this question to the agency I rented through in 2007. The reply was as follows:

Hi Mr Clark - Thanks for the reply.

Liability is included w/ all rentals in europe by law.

You are protected for damage to people or property oustide your vehicle. $0 deductible.

Kindest Regards,

Andyb .

When you rent your car make sure the rental company allows you to drive in all of the countries you intend to go.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you Lane.

I'm new to this forum and was admittedly naive to the process. Appreciate the insight.

Posted by
10344 posts

€8,000,000 or €50,000,000 should do it--whew, one less thing to worry about.:)

Posted by
1357 posts

Does Amex cover liability? I know my World Mastercard does not, which is why I decided not to use it as my primary coverage.

Posted by
850 posts

Maureen,
Amex would not cover liability. It would probably cover your collision and theft. Mine does but I always call before going on a trip to make sure they have not changed their policy regarding this type of coverage. Visa would probably also cover the same. It is always a good idea to call and see what the limits of their coverages are. Also,my Amex will not cover for cars rented in Italy and Ireland. It was ok to rent in Germany and drive through Italy but not to rent in Italy. You have to be the primary renter of the car and use the card for the entire rental transaction. You also must decline the collision damage waiver (cdw) if offered by the rental company. Usually you just initial the block on the contract where indicated to decline.

As mentioned in the post above, liability is included with all rentals in Europe by law. Again, check with your credit card company about the cdw insurance. Some people still feel uneasy about using their credit card for their collision coverage but I have felt comfortable with it.

Posted by
23 posts

Maureen.

I was not aware that the World Mastercard offered "primary" CDW/Theft protection on rental cars. Could you elaborate details of the coverage and if there is an additional fee to activate the coverage (annual or per rental)?

I got a copy of the Amex "primary" CDW/Theft protection plan which any cardmember can activate for a one-time fee per rental of $24.95 for maximum coverage ($17.95 for CA residents). The highlights of the plan...called the premium rental car protection plan...are listed below.

And for those of us whose kids are of driving age and renting cars, they can also be covered under these terms if they hold and use an additional card on your account.

· The Cardmember must be the primary renter on the rental agreement
· Primary coverage is provided for theft or damage to a rental vehicle
· There is no coverage provided for liability
· Coverage is provided for Accidental Death and Dismemberment ($100K/$250 for CA residents, max $500K)
· Coverage is provided for Excess Medical Expenses ($15K/covered passenger beyond their own medical plan)
· Coverage is provided for Personal Property ($5K/person, up to max of $10K)
· Coverage is worldwide except for vehicles rented in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand
· There is coverage provided for Loss of Use or Loss of Revenue
· Cardmember must use an enrolled Card to pay for a rental auto
· Full-size vans, full-sized SUV's, pick-up trucks, and luxury vehicles are covered
· Coverage is provided for up to 42 consecutive days

The major factor deterring us from using this type of primary coverage was the potential hassle of coordinating the claim and pay-out in the event of an accident or loss. The Amex rep explained that it was a simple matter of calling in the claim with the usual details and that Amex would then deal directly with the rental car company and see it to resolution although the fine print indicated otherwise.

Posted by
1357 posts

I don't know of all the terms with the World Mastercard plan. Once I saw that it didn't include liability, I went with the CDW/3rd-party excess plan. But it's probably similar to the Amex, where you have to decline the CDW offered by the rental company. I've read posts on here, though, where Mastercard denied claims for various reasons.

Posted by
19 posts

So is it correct to summarize that

  1. we DON'T need to worry about liability insurance since that's automatically covered by the rental company in Europe?

  2. we ONLY need to decide whether to buy the CDW offered by the rental company or decline it and use the one offered by the credit card company.

Thanks,
Dukkar

Posted by
23 posts

Dukkar. The answer is yes. Your decision comes down to...

  1. CDW, Super CDW (aka Super Cover or Extended CDW) which lowers your deductible even more and is different for every rental car company. The best I found was Sixt which offers an extended CDW with a deductible of 100 euros. They also don't charge etra for additional drivers while others charge a flat fee for multiple additional drivers or a fee for each additional driver
  2. Theft Protection
  3. Personal Injury Protection

You do not need to worry about third party liability.

or going with a "primary" policy from a credit card. I have heard some horror stories about "secondary" credit card policies refusing to pay out for one reason or another.

Posted by
9363 posts

I would NEVER recommend trusting a credit card for insurance, particularly since they force you to decline what is offered by the rental company first. When they then deny a claim, as in my case, you have nothing to cover you.

Posted by
337 posts

"It's obviously possible that European countries by law require car rental companies to provide adequate personal liability insurance as part of the rental coverage; and, if so, how do we know the liability insurance coverage provided by law is adequate rather than just minimal?"

If the car had valid German license plates it had a third party liability insurance with a coverage of at least 7.5 million euro for damages to persons, one million euro for damages to property, and 50 000 euro for purely financial losses.
Without that it wouldn't have been road legal.

Posted by
23 posts

I work in this industry and my recommendation is not allowing your credit card to be the primary provider of coverage. Not to anyone's suprise, they look for any loop hole to get out of paying for the claim. Unless you have the "perfect transaction", you might get stuck with the bill. It's worth the cost to buy the CDW for the piece of mind. I can't imagine coming home and dealing with overseas calls to handle a car rental claim!

Posted by
23 posts

I work in this industry and my recommendation is not allowing your credit card to be the primary provider of coverage. Not to anyone's suprise, they look for any loop hole to get out of paying for the claim. Unless you have the "perfect transaction", you might get stuck with the bill. It's worth the cost to buy the CDW for the piece of mind. I can't imagine coming home and dealing with overseas calls to handle a car rental claim!

Posted by
1 posts

I recently booked a seven day trip to Munich, Germany, which includes a rental car through Expedia. I also plan to visit Salzburg, Austria, while over there. Although I've been to Europe many times I've never rented a car and I'm getting more and more confused about the insurance. I can purchase a general liability plan through Expedia, which only covers theft or damage to the car for about $80. It doesn't cover anything else. As pointed out here already, my US insurance will not cover me in Germany. So my questions is: What exactly should I purchase from the Rental Co. (Hertz) to insure that I have limited or no liability or are there other options available. Any assistance with this would be appreciated.

Posted by
23 posts

Max. We just returned from a 2 week trip by rental car through central Europe which kicked off from Munich.

We struggled with the insurance issue because the daily rate for a compact was about 50 euros/day and with CDW/Theft/PIP it was going to be essentially double! We ultimately decided to use the Amex premium car rental insurance (primary insurance) for $24.95 for the entire rental period. Upon arrival at the Sixt (City Center) rental car desk, we were informed by the agent that all of their rates included CDW & Theft with a deductible of 500-550 euros.

As mentioned before in this discussion, liability is automatic with all European car rental companies. This turned out to be contrary to all the online rate quotes and calls to Sixt customer service prior to the trip. We were told that opting out was not an option.

By avoiding the airport and rail station we did not have to pay the 20% surcharge at those locations. For a minor fee of ~15 euros we were able to drop off the car at the Munich airport.
Finally, Salzburg was amazing, especially the lakes outside the city. A short 20 minute drive to Konigsee was rewarded by a cable car ride to a mountain peak. A 1 hour drive East on the 150 out of Salzburg to Hallstatt provided great vistas next to several of the lakes. The funicular to the mines from Hallstatt and the cable car to the ice caves from Obertraun will also provide great views. Furthermore, the food on top of these mountains was much better than expected compared to food at similar U.S. sites.