Car rental and other insurance

Old Nov 14th, 2002, 12:27 PM
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Car rental and other insurance

OK, I have done the search on CDW and found good info, but some of it is contradictory or it just doesn’t go far enough.

Here’s my situation: I will be traveling in France June 4-23, 2003 with 7 others. We will be renting 2 cars from AutoEurope for 15 of those days, so two drivers. Each of us (the two main drivers, i.e.) will use our Visa gold credit cards to pay for the rental and will be reimbursed by the others for their share. We plan to decline the CDW offered by AutoEurope so that it will be covered by our credit cards. It is my understanding that there is no deductible when you use the CC for coverage, right?

I also understand that, should we have an accident, our cards will be charged for repair costs and it might be quite a while before those charges are taken off by the CC company. I know that we must have all the papers to justify our claims: repair estimates, police reports, photos, etc. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has recently made a claim using the CDW provided by the CC company. How long did it take to get everything staightened out?

According to AutoEurope’s website, fire and third party liability insurance is automatically included in the rental. It offers “unlimited coverage in case of damage or injury to people or property outside of the rental car.”

We are each also purchasing from either Travel Guard or Travel Insured an insurance package for trip cancellation, baggage, medical, etc. I am leaning toward Travel Insured because Travel Guard does not cover financial default for US Air which we are using. Travel Guard, however, includes $25,000 CDW that Travel Insured does not. But we will have that already through our Credit cards. Is there any advantage to having CDW coverage through Travel Guard? Would having it nullify our coverage through the CC?

The only other thing that worries me and the other driver a bit is the possibility, however remote, that one of our passengers or a member of his family could sue us for damages if we should be involved in an accident in which that passenger was hurt or, God forbid, killed. You would certainly hope that no one would do that, but you never know. Is there any insurance you know of that could protect us from that?

I would appreciate any help you can provide to help me sort all this out. Thanks in advance.

Old Nov 14th, 2002, 12:35 PM
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We rented a car through Autoeurope, using a Visa Gold card, in France a while ago. Scraped the rear bumper a little bit, and were billed about $250 for it on our Visa card by Europecar. As expected, the credit card company reimbursed us in full but it took around two months for the reimbursement.
Old Nov 14th, 2002, 04:30 PM
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Thanks,xxx. Any other comments?
Old Nov 14th, 2002, 07:13 PM
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I know a lot of other travellers will probably disagree, but my advice is to accept the CDW insurance. If you are involved in any major accident it saves no end of hassle.
Last year, we hired a car from Avis in Greece and suffered brake failure. Avis promised not to bill us as the car was faulty, actually at this stage we were glad just to be alive. Avis waited until I left Greece 2 months later, then, once I was unable to get local legal help, billed our CC for about $6,000.
We claimed this back from the CC insurance and this was something of a nightmare. The process was complicated somewhat by language differences and translations of repair bills etc. being required. Eventually everything was sorted out, the insurance company paid and we suffered no lasting damage (physical or financial).
Over a period of about 6 months, I made well over 100 phone calls to sort this mess out. Obtaining police reports, receipts, damage reports etc. is easier said than done, especially when their is a language problem.
Over all we were very lucky, a few broken ribs and a couple of nights in hospital was all we suffered.
Needless to say, I would caution anyone to be careful to check the brakes on any hire car and would not reccommend Avis. Visa insurance came through in the end - but it was very stressful.
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 02:34 PM
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Had a similar problem with Avis, but here in the states. Would never rent from them again.

We do take our the CDW overseas just to avoid any headaches...and so far so good. I understand not everyone agrees...but we like to make sure we are covered on all bases...the peace of mind makes the trip more enjoyable.
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 03:10 PM
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I would check with the credit card company. They don't cover CDW in all countries. I don't know about France, but in Italy the CC companies don't cover CDW because it's required to be added to the fee of the car. If you take it from AutoEurope, you can walk away from everything and let them deal with it.
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 05:40 PM
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We recently rented a car through Hertz in Belgium and drove through Germany and France. Used our Mastercard. I called them before we left to request specific information on the coverage they offer and was given another number to call for further information. Perhaps you should try calling your CC company for more info.

When renting the car in Belgium, the Belgium agent warned us to check the car over thoroughly and note any damage as he felt the French would charge us for it if not noted when we returned the car in France. But, that can happen anywhere.
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 05:42 PM
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In general, do our car insurance policies cover any damage or injuries while renting a car?
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 05:50 PM
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Perhaps I need to clarify. I am not asking if I should have CDW. I do plan to have it. The question is from what source. It seems to me that I have 3 options. 1) AutoEurope - for my rental it would cost about $280 (difference between "basic" and "inclusive" rates)
2) Travel Guard - a package travel insurance policy that also includes trip cancellation, medical, baggage, etc. that I would probably buy anyway for $66 or 3) Let my Visa Gold card cover it at no extra cost to me.

On the surface it would seem foolish to pay for coverage that I can have at no extra cost. It seems that others here have talked about the car rental company insurance having a (sometimes high) deductible. Neither the Travel Guard policy nor the Visa explanation of CDW benefits mention any deductible. I am pretty sure that the Visa will cover cars rented in France. I have used it there before although I have never had to make a claim.

Carolina's experience above sounds like something of a nightmare, but would it have been any different if she had bought CDW from the car rental company or through a separate policy?

There must be more to it than I am seeing. Part of the problem (a good problem, I guess!) is that very few people if any, have had the experience of having to make a claim using 3 or even 2 of the sources mentioned above and so, cannot really compare.

Is there something that I am not taking into account?
Old Nov 15th, 2002, 07:00 PM
John H
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Hi, Betty,

I don't really know if there's ever a good answer to the CDW question.

I have rented 5 rental cars from AutoEurope in the last 4 years. Had no problems what soever until this year (when Europcar was the provider of rentals in both France and England). I have had billing problems with both rentals (forgetting about any damage claim, which I will get to in a moment). I have found AutoEurope and the credit card companies generally to be good and responsive in this regard.

We did have one problem with a tire on our trip. We happened to stop on an autoroute for a break and just happened to notice there was a bubble in one of our tires. We called Europcar's roadside assistance and got the tire changed and the full-size spare tire put on.

When we returned the car, it was in the evening before closing time. We pointed out the blemish on the tire that was now in the trunk and explained that the spare was on the wheel. About 3 weeks after we returned to the US we noticed a charge of roughly $600 on the credit card used to reserve the car with the damaged tire. We contacted AutoEurope and asked about the charge.

Key findings about this process and CDW coverage:

1) Damage to the car's undercarriage and tires is NOT covered by CDW insurance (at least not by AutoEurope's). And, the mandatory deductible on their CDW coverage is around $750.

2) Once you are back in the US it is a real hassle -- going through your credit card company and AutoEurope -- to dispute any charges is probably the best way to protect yourself. We explained to AutoEurope and Amex that there was a bubble on the tire -- we had photos from a digital camera -- and said that the tire may itself have been defective. Anyway, AutoEurope has agreed to try to mediate for us, but it is taking forever (we returned our car over 2 months ago -- Europcar didn't even bill anything for at least 3 weeks). So, that saga continues. Nonetheless, we have also filed a dispute with Amex on the charge levied for this tire. Unfortunately, we don't know the outcome at this time.

3) you mention having repair records, claims, police reports, .... First, I believe AutoEurope said Europcar had 90-120 days before they were required to finalize their estimate of the repair costs. So, the process is very drawn out. Second, if -- like us -- u return your car with a bad tire or something like scratches, there will be no police report or claim. You will need to get paperwork from the car rental agency. Good luck.

4) The one other reason to take CDW, as I understand it, is that your credit card could be charged up to the full cost of the car if it were damaged to that extent. So, having CDW -- except, apparently, for tires and the car's undercarriage -- caps your potential near-term exposure. Even if there is no deductible on CC coverage, the initial outlat could be huge if you were in a major accident.

Sorry to be long-winded. Hope this is helpful.

John H.

Old Nov 15th, 2002, 08:00 PM
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There is no one right anwer to this question and you can sort through the details of each option ad nauseum but it boils down the degree of risk and hassle you're willing to assume.

Since you are a group of 7 but only have 2 drivers, I would think the best option would be to take the maximum CDW from the rental company since the cost gets shared among all of you. You can also purchase a Super CDW policy which will reduce the mandatory deductible from $750 to about $150. I think the cost was, not coincidentally, about $150.

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