rental car and insurance question

I am renting a car in europe for the first time. I am planning on using Europcap because they have the best price when it comes to renting the car which will include winter tires and chains. Does anyone know though that if you take out travelers insurance that includes car rental coverage, do I still need to get the car coverage offered by the rental company. The cost of that is siginifcant and if my travel policy already covers it I am wondering if I can and should skip the rental companies fees. Any help would be appreciated. thanks

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14079 posts

Not a simple answer because it all depends on your insurance company. You need to read the fine print several times and be sure that the coverage is primary and not secondary to something else. And get it all in writing. The word of the agent on the phone is worthless. Over the years there have been horrid stores posted on this site when the insurance company (generally credit card insurance) would not stand behind a serious accident. This is an area that you cannot be too careful or fail to ask enough questions. And make sure the policy is good for the countries you intend to travel in because some insurance companies will not cover certain countries - sometimes Italy and Ireland.

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1545 posts

When we order our trip insurance through Travel Guard, we make sure to specify that we want the rental car included. Like the previous poster said, even if they do insure the rental, make sure of what they insure; i.e., loss of use in case of an accident, tires, undercarriage, etc. Even the insurance you might get with the rental car company might not include these issues. There are several different levels of insurance. Here's some more info on the insurance: For a price comparison on your rental, you can check AutoEurope prices online. They are auto brokers that set up contracts with Hertz, Avis and Europcar. Ref the tires and chains, make sure you take your contract with you and that it specifies that these items are included. I have had the rental car company try to add more money to my rental for these items even though they were included. Just a suggestion. Have a great trip!

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

Like Frank says, you've got to read the fine print. It's very possible your travel insurance will REQUIRE you to turn down Europcar's own insurance. The advantage of third-party coverage like you're contemplating, is that it's (often much) cheaper. The disadvantage is that, if you DO have an accident, it'll be totally up to you to sort things out with your 3rd party carrier. The car rental company will seek reimbursement directly from you. They will not deal directly with your 3rd party carrier. You'll have to pay, and then seek reimbursement on your own. So be SURE you know your insurer's documentation requirements for reporting a claim - such as police reports, repair shop invoices, photographs of the damage, etc. As Frank says, it's all in the fine print.

Posted by Robert
889 posts

I've always relied on credit card insurance in France; wise or not, I don't know. There's lots of info on this everywhere, including the RS site (I even posted a question here a month or so ago), but the decision is really personal. But I'd suggest going to and reading their suggestions.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
4369 posts

Conor - maybe you could possibly just use trains and avoid all of these car rental pitfalls. I would certainly recommend it.

Posted by Conor
Marlborough, MA, USA
144 posts

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I had already purchased travel insurance that included car rental coverage and purchased through my credit card the rental without the insureance. I knwo they will try to upsell me again when I get there but I know I have to refuse it to be covered by my credit card. I am just trying not to get ripped off for the most part. I will be arriving in December and going into the alps so I am just taking extra precaution. At least europcar includes winter tires in the pricing. As for the train idea, I usually go by train everywhere but to get from Munich to Salzburg and then into the alps brings too many connections and too much time, especially when you want to make sure you can get to the airport on time without having to wake up before sunlight. thanks everyone

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8183 posts

Like any insurance, you need to know the policy. Often a policy that includes rental insurance REQUIRES you to decline your car rental company's insurance. Check that out carefully. The other big one is usually about contacting people right away if you need to file a claim, them, car rental company, police, etc. The best way to use insurance is know the rules in the policy and follow them to the letter.

Posted by Robert
889 posts

I agree totally with Brad, but often following the letter of the policy is difficult if not impossible. I blew a tire returning a car in Annecy a couple of years ago. It was a Saturday of a long weekend, the rental agency was closed, and I was returning it to a hotel designated as the alternative. The cc insurance required a police report, accident report, and a lot of other things that I probably couldn't have gotten. Ultimately, the insurer waived all those things, but wanted proof of the basis for the repair cost, which I was never able to get from the rental company. Fortunately, the amount of the the loss was small.
And Tim, the train is a great idea on a theoretical basis, but in France the train service is terrible except for major lines. Terrible in the sense that it goes so few places now. Where it goes, it's fabulous, but you can tell the state of the train system by the number of towns where the old "gare" is just a bus stop.

Posted by Jackie
Renton, WA, USA
225 posts

A couple of suggestions...get your International Drivers Permit at the AAA office. And if you get into an accident, take pictures of damage to the car, the other car involved and victims/passengers!!