Autoeurope's extra insurance

Apr 30th, 2005, 07:00 PM
  #1  
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Autoeurope's extra insurance

I hesitate even to bring up such trivia...

I booked my autoeurope rental with an "inclusive" plan, including the CDW and theft insurance, which cost something like an extra $70. The deductibles are something like $1500 with this plan, but I'm covered over that.

Then I realized that my AmEx card automatically gives me full theft and damage insurance, with no deductible at all. So, in theory, there's no need for me to buy any other insurance.

I'm now thinking of canceling autoeurope's insurance. Autoeurope's web site tries to persuade me not to, by listing various advantages of their insurance, all of which don't apply to me or are just silly, except for two: first, the fact that American Express could require me to pay a large claim myself and then ask them for reimbursement (whereas I guess Autoeurope handles the whole thing for me), and second, going to AmEx could result in their approaching my insurance company which could raise my rates.

Any advice? I've heard a lot of horror stories regarding European car rentals... people being charged $5000 for a windshield wiper that was already broken when they got the car, and so forth. I'm considering keeping the insurance. It's one of the smaller expenses of the trip, and it seems like it might be good to have autoeurope's clout behind me in case of a problem.
medhead is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:09 AM
  #2  
 
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I booked through Autoeurope in Italy. The rate is $415 for 10 days, full insurance, and no deductible. Check with them again on their deductible policy.

Twice I've rented cars in Europe and didn't take the full insurance. Those are the only 2 times I did damage to the car and both times I had problems with the insurance through my credit card.
adrienne is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:24 AM
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You need to know for certain whether or not your AmEx insurance would be primary or secondary in case it were needed. That should be clearly spelled out by them in the agreement information you received when you signed up (I know..who remembers that stuff?) but am sure they will tell you if you ask.

Some CC insurance plans act as primary (kick in prior to your own insurance) and some act as secondary. In the latter case I suppose your rates could go up...that depends on your auto insurance company.

Good luck.
Intrepid1 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:30 AM
  #4  
ira
 
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Hi med,

>my AmEx card automatically gives me full theft and damage insurance, with no deductible at all.<

This is correct. There is a fee of $20.

>American Express could require me to pay a large claim myself and then ask them for reimbursement ...<

The claim for damages goes on your AMEX card. AMEX's insurance division then processes your claim and pays AMEX.

Ask for a copy of the "Premium Car Rental Protection" plan from AMEX.

> going to AmEx could result in their approaching my insurance company which could raise my rates.<

I don't see why they would. Does your insurance company provide coverage on car rental outside the US? If not, AMEX is your only insurer.

ira is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:55 AM
  #5  
 
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In deciding how to insure your foreign car rental you should of course check with your own credit card company, your own car insurance compancy and the rental company. I wouldn't just go with what anyone (including me) tells you on a site like this - BUT a few facts that I have found to be true after extensive research on this topic are:

--Very few if any US car insurance companies cover you in Europe. So they are not "primary" and they do not get involved in any way.

-- If you want to use your CC (Visa or MC or AM Ex) you MUST decline the rental companies CDW. Once you do that the CC insurance becomes the primary. They are never the secondary insurer, you either take them as primary or they don't cover you at all.

-- If you use the CC insurance there is no deductible. They will cover the entire cost of the damage/theft. However, they may charge any or all of it to your credit card which would (in many cases) effectively block you from using that card until the matter was setteled. Once it is setteled (could be months) they remove the charge. Visa (through Capital One) at least assured me that I wouldn't have to pay iterest on that amount during the time it was being setteled. If for some reason they declined to cover you (like you were driving drunk during the accident or something) then you'd be responsible for it. What that means though, is if you are going to use a CC for car insurance coverage, make sure you have another credit card so you could continue charging things on the rest of the trip.

I almost always use the CC insurance for Euroopean car rentals. However, in Italy they don't allow this. I just reserved a car through Autoeurope for this summer in Italy and of course had to take the inclusive plan. I called autoeurope and they told me there was no deductible. I sure hope they are right. I've never rented in Italy before. (I have driven a rental car through Italy that I rented in Germany and returned in France, and my Visa assured me it was covered in Italy as long as the rental didn't start there).

isabel is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 07:13 AM
  #6  
 
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What you say about AutoEurope discouraging you from NOT taking their insurance is surprising. I always book with AutoEurope on phone, and when booking for UK last year, it was the phone rep who told me I was "foolish" to pay for their full insurance if my credit card covered me, especially since their insurance still left me with a deductible. After checking with my credit card, I agree so did the contract without insurance and made sure to decline the CDW so my credit card would take over. Sure enough, we totalled a car on the trip, and we ended up paying nothing. But if we had taken the AutoEurope insurance at quite a bit extra, we would have still had to pay a deductible of $500 or 500 pounds, I forget which.
Patrick is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 09:09 AM
  #7  
 
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I've had 2 damage experiences through AutoEurope, one with their coverage and one with Amex platinum card's $20 per rental insurance. (This is an optional plan that you have to sign up for and each time a car rental is charged to your card, it kicks in.)

The one with the car rental CDW cost me $500 because of the deductable. I just had to take their word for it that the damage was over $500.

The one with Amex coverage was a bogus charge but they covered it with no deducable. I forget the amount but it was around 3 to $400 to replace the radio/CD player that they said we broke. Totally outrageous, but Amex removed the charge while they investigated it, then 3 months later put the charge back on and then the next day issued a credit for it. Kind of a roundabout way of doing it but it worked.

One thing to be aware of on the Amex coverage, they charged me the $20 three diffenent times for the same rental. Once when I first reserved the car, again when we turned it in and again when the damage charge appeared. They removed the extras as soon as I called but you do have to watch for it.
Linda431 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 09:32 AM
  #8  
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Armed with the tips you all provided, I called autoeurope and AmEx again to get some more details.

First of all, to address Adrienne's issue, autoeurope itself doesn't provide the insurance. The insurance actually comes from the company I'm renting the car from, in this case Europcars. So I suppose different car rental companies could have different deductibles. Mine would be $1500 for colllision damage and $2000 for theft.

AmEx's coverage has no deductible. The procedure would be that any claim from Europcar would be charged to my AmEx card. AmEx would then challenge the claim, or pay it, or whatever. In any case, I wouldn't be required to pay anything.

Of note, if I accept the insurance offered by autoeurope, then AmEx won't cover me at all. Not even the deductible. This suggests that I should decline autoeurope's coverage offer, even if costs MORE without the insurance.

If my own American auto insurance company covers me in Europe, then AmEx would cover me, but only for whatever is NOT included by my own company. In other words, I go to my auto insurance company first, and then AmEx will pay the deductible. However, it turns out that my insurance company doesn't cover me in Europe (most don't). If my company had provided European coverage, then I might have chosen to buy premium coverage from AmEx, for $25 per rental, which would make AmEx the primary provider, and take my own insurance company out of the loop completely. I would also get accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

I can find only one potential downside of declining autoeurope's coverage, which is that AmEx doesn't cover "loss of use" charges. This means that if I damage the car, and it's then in the repair shop for two weeks, Europcar can charge me the amount of money that they have lost by not having the car available for rental for that time. Presumably, Europcar could charge me some astronomical maximum rate that nobody ever really pays, and say the car was in the shop for months, meaning that I could end up paying an awful lot of money. The AmEx representative told me that they usually don't do that, because it's in their best interest to get the car back on the road quickly. They can make more money selling insurance to someone else than they can by charging me for nonusage of the car. The autoeurope representative I spoke to indicated that Europcars' insurance does cover loss of use fees, but I'm not entirely sure if that's really true.
medhead is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 11:25 AM
  #9  
 
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That's correct about the different companies and differing deductable amounts. The $500 I referred to was about 3 years ago. Nowadays, most companies do charge between $1000 and 1500 depending on the car.

If you're going to be driving in Italy you won't have a choice. You'll have to take the car rental insurance. I believe in Ireland also it's mandatory.
Linda431 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 11:31 AM
  #10  
 
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That's an interesting thought about the loss of use, medhead, but when we totalled our car in Wales, not only were we not charged for a loss of use from them, but they even deducted the remaining two days of our rental period from what they billed us for the actual rental!
Patrick is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 02:06 PM
  #11  
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Patrick, it looks like you picked a good rental company that time! I'm hoping that the "lost rental time" charge is something that only the sleazier companies would actually hit you with.

There seem to be six countries where buying the insurance is mandatory. Those are also the six countries where AmEx insurance won't cover you at all. They are Italy, Ireland, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and another one that I forgot. I guess there's something about the laws there. Even the premium AmEx protection plan won't cover you there, although there are apparently some AmEx corporate platinum cards that will.
medhead is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 02:20 PM
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I should have been clear in my first post on the subject. We rented from AutoEurope and the agency was Avis. It was charged on a VISA Citibank platinum card which took care of all the insurance -- even the towing and storage bill for the wrecked car. The accident literally didn't cost us a penny (well, other than a taxi from the police station to the train station so we could pick up a train without our car for the last day!)
Patrick is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:03 PM
  #13  
 
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I always take before and after rental pictures of the car when renting overseas.

If there is any challenge, as say the example of paying $5000 for a broken windshield wiper, well, I's got my photos. Now they have to prove that I'm the one responsible for the damage.
easytraveler is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:13 PM
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"I always take before and after rental pictures of the car when renting overseas."

That's a great idea, but I'd take it a step further and do it in the US also. That's where I've had the problem of them insisting I put a dent in the underside of the rear bumper, which I know was there when we got it -- but didn't see until we left -- I was in my own car following my partner driving the rental car when we picked it up, and saw it after we left the agency. It was a big argument turning it in the next day -- yes, a one day rental -- until I managed to convince them by showing them the spot was already starting to rust!
Patrick is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 09:28 AM
  #15  
 
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I called VISA Premium Benefits to inquire about CDW/Theft Insurance in Italy. Provided I decline CDW, the CC coverage acts as the primary insurer. It covers all in the event of an incident/claim with no deductible. They advised that I should contact them via a collect call to open a claim. However, since the claim cannot be settled on the spot, I would need to settle with the rental agency (thru the credit card) and be reimbursed by the CC bank at a later date. This last part concerns me since the settlement will likely exceed spending limit of the CC; I need to follow up with the CC agent to ask about this.

Also, with respect to Theft Protection, since it is mandatory coverage in Italy (non-waiverable), the CC bank will reimburse me of any deductible paid as part of a theft-related claim.

AutoEurope's website describes the "inclusive" insurance coverage. They state that like TP, CDW is also mandatory within Italy (not the case if you go through Avis/Hertz directly; the renter is given the option!). If this this AutoEurope's own policy, it means I can't decline it to take advantage of my Credit Card coverage. Has anyone had success in declining CDW thru AutoEurope? If so, is it true that rental car companies put a high authorization charge on your CC at the time of rental rendering it unusable? It certainly would be prudent to carry a second CC for the trip!!!

Ordinarily I would simply accept the rental agency's insurance however the added cost associated with a three week rental period is significant enough to consider the options!
alps is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 09:40 AM
  #16  
ira
 
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Hi alps,

As far as I am aware:

CDW is mandatory in Italy (It is not autoEurope's idea.)

Visa Platinum is the only CC offering insurance coverage in Italy if you decline the CDW (see above)

>...is it true that rental car companies put a high authorization charge on your CC at the time of rental rendering it unusable? <

They often put a hold on your card for the amount of the deductible. If you get the AutoEurope rate with Super CDW, AE will cover this amount for you.

Hope this helps.




ira is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 09:45 AM
  #17  
 
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One approach would be to buy travel insurance that includes rental-car coverage.
Underhill is online now  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:03 AM
  #18  
 
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As has been pointed out late in the thread, it depends on the country. I appreciate the new info on Italy and the CDW--was under the impression you still had to take it.
Gretchen is online now  
Jul 27th, 2005, 10:30 AM
  #19  
 
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Thanks for all your feedback.

Just called AutoEurope directly and was informed that CDW is a mandatory charge, hence their all-inclusive rates. They would put a hold on my card for the higher of the deductible amounts, approx $285.

For what it's worth, I made reservations with Avis and Budget (just to hedge myself) before exploring the numerous Fodors posts. Both informed me that theft coverage was mandatory, however only Budget provided an all-inclusive rate; Avis stated CDW is optional @ 17 per day (don't recall if USD or Euro).
I've since canceled both reservations and am heavily leaning towards AE; inclusive rate and possible deductible, it still beats going thru the big boys (Hertz, Avis, etc.) directly.
alps is offline  
Jul 27th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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I have gone through AutoEurope as well. I have rented in Austria and Switzerland and did not have to pay for theft insurance. I did, however, take the limited liability of the built-in CDW.

In other countries, such as Italy and the former Eastern Bloc, there are heavy restrictions and requirements for theft insurance. I know in some cases, I rented with the restriction I could not drive into Italy south of the Tyrol.

Let me pose a question for general comments.

Let's first assume these curcumstances:
1. You rent an Opel Vectra.
2. You decline the CDW and have only credit card insurance.
3. You are at fault in a collision that totals the Opel which is worth upwards of $20,000.

Will the rental car company allow you freely to leave the country with only your promise that your credit card company will pay for the damage?

I have taken the position that if I smash up their precious car, I want to be able legally to leave and go home.

I could not put $20,000 more on my credit cards!

bob_brown is offline  

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