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car rental questions and driving into Prague

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Jul 5th, 2009, 03:39 PM
  #1
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car rental questions and driving into Prague

I have a couple of questions on renting a car in Europe.

I booked a car several weeks ago from Alamo - picking up in Zurich, driving to Munich, Vienna and Prague and back to Zurich. But I just found that Alamo prohibits driving into Czech Republic. Did anyone has similar experience? Will other car rental companies allow driving cars into Czech?

My second question is regarding liability insurance. I have a marster card that offers collision damage waiver and theft protection. So I will not buy such coverage from rental company. But what about liability insurance? As far as I know, the CDW and TP is for the rented car. What happens if I hit other cars? Within US and Canada, my personal auto insurance will cover my fault. But I am sure that policy does not cover rental car in Europe. Advices?

Thanks.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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When I saw the title to your thread I immediately thought about the problems you would have trying to take a rental car into Prague. I have not been there yet, but will consider taking a train in instead of trying to drive a rental. Either that, or we will go with friends who live in Germany and can take their own personal car.

We typically buy insurance coverage in Europe, even though we have platinum AMEX cards that we use for the rental.

We also always rent in Zurich. We use Avis. Have done so for years. When you get your car, there is a sketch of a car on the paperwork, which details the dings and scratches that are already on the car. I think it's a good idea to check out the car to make sure there aren't other dings/scratches that are not on the paperwork. You don't want to be blamed for them!
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Jul 5th, 2009, 05:36 PM
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If you cannot get to Prague by car, you can always take the train from Munich or Vienna.

It is possible to travel the entire trip with only trains.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 06:31 PM
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We rented from Autoeurope, brokers, and picked up a car from Avis in Munich. Avis (at least in Munich) allows cars to be driven into Eastern Europe as long as it is agreed upon at reservation time and at pickup time. As for insurance, Autoeurope and/or the agencies they deal with provide third party liability and fire insurance. For personal liability we have a big liability policy in force through our homeowners insurance, good worldwide. It may be possible to purchase personal liability from your car rental agency but check with your credit card insurance people because for the cc to insure the collision you must decline (initial on contract) the CDW. I don't know the rules about purchasing just the personal liability. Also, check with your cc company to be sure they insure in Czech Republic. Some don't.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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I've rented numerous times for trips to Eastern Central Europe, and had one accident, in Slovakia. I'd recommend you buy the liability from the rental firm; I was surprised how much less than the collision it was. It's quite affordable.

I realize that's not enough to convince you. So, per your method, how would you demonstrate to the police attending an accident that you were insured through your homewoners insurance? What IS the Czech word for "homeowners insurance"? Will you be taking a Czech translation of your policy with you? (their cops don't read English)
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Jul 5th, 2009, 08:01 PM
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We are renting a car in Berlin and driving to Prague. Hertz said there was no problem driving into Czech Republic except we can't take an audi, BMW, or Mercedez there. We were planning on a BMW, so I don't know what we have now.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 09:56 PM
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Thanks all for your suggestions. I just called Avis and it seems they do NOT have policies against driving into Czech Republic. I made a reservations with them though I had to pay a bit more.

I like to travel with trains but there are 4 of us and it's cheaper to move around with a car. With a car I do not have to worry about train schedules or walking around with luggage; therefore I could spend more time on sightseeing. Having said that, we will take trains within Switzerland to enjoy the alps views better.

Seems like most people suggest that I buy a liability insurance from the rental company. What's interesting is that when I was making a reservation on-line, the liability item was grayed out (i.e. disabled). I assume this might mean there is no need for liability insurance. If true, this is quite contrary to what I am used to in US.
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Jul 6th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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Remember not to leave luggage in your car.
Even in the trunk, it could get stolen.
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Jul 6th, 2009, 09:48 AM
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3rd party liability is mandatory to get a car registered in every European country I know (I don't know them all!). What can differ is the amount of mandatory liability.
In Switzerland I would *assume* that 3rd party liability is either unlimited or several million francs. But you should find that info in your rental contract.

You will find a "green insurance card" in your rental car (actually more like a leaflet), which is proof of 3rd party liability insurance in other countries. If you have an accident in the Czech Republic, the cops will want to see that "green card" and nothing more (except your rental contract and ID).

The green insurance card carries the names and phone numbers of the respective foreign insurer (in your case: the Czech insurer) who will handle the claims.
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Jul 6th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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tomboy -- FYI, the personal liability policy I'm referring to is one that covers being sued for personal injury, etc. As cowboy 1968 says, the green card that is provided by the auto rental agency covers the mandatory auto-accident-related liability as required by each country. My "umbrella" policy covers the really big lawsuit that could arise after the accident. It covers auto accidents, injury on my property, injuries and damages caused by me both in the States and worldwide.
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Jul 6th, 2009, 06:18 PM
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I was in Germany and the Czech Republic this past June. I am an autobody shop owner in Portland, OR and have some experience with accidents. After talking with my commerical agent, he recommended buying all the collision, liability and theft insurance from the rental agency despite all the claims of being covered through our credit cards, personal insurances, etc. and we did. Luckily, no mishaps.

We too could not take a BMW, Audi or MB in. We had an Opel Insignia Wagon - about the size of a VW Passat Wagon in the states. I was skeptical; I know cars and Opel stopped being imported to the US long ago and with GM's involvement, I did not know what the car would be like. It was very nice to drive, even at about 110 mph on the Autobahn it felt secure and stable.

We rented a car from Eurocar.com and called to get questions answered and make sure we secured the insurances we wanted. Our experience with this company was good.

It was the first time driving in Europe for both my husband and me. The signage in the Czech Republic was difficult for us, we do not know the language and signs with road numbers and such were not very visable to us. I'm a calm driver and I did fine working our way through construction not shown on our NAV system and getting ourselves re-directed so the NAV sys could direct us again.

The NAV system worked great, including getting us right to the too-narrow-to-turn-into-alley in front of our hotel in the Mala Strana section of Prague. (a great hotel by the way, Golden Well www.goldenwell.cz and they will park your car overnight at their sister hotel The Aria - there is a fee. AND they have a terrace resturant with gorgeous veiw of the city and the food was very good, make a reservation if you want to go. ). I don't recommend planning to navigate the old sections of Prague by car.

The Fodor's guide had a section that let us know we'd need to purchase a road tax sticker at a gas station as soon as we could after entering the CR. We did this. If I recall correctly, we were able to purchase one for a week.

While there, if you have interest in a guide service, look into the Fodor's recommended guide service www.private-prague-guide.com. We were very happy we decided to book a 6 hour custom tour. It was provided by Jaroslav "Jay" Pesta, the owner, but they have other guides who also get great reviews here and in other forums. The site is loaded with tours that can give you ideas of what you might like to see. Jay was very responsive to my email requests.

I hope you enjoy the splendid, awe-inspiring and sometimes tear-inducing sights of Prague!
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Jul 7th, 2009, 05:12 AM
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Camille, I am checking with private-prague-guide. Thanks for your informative post.

Also thanks others for sharing your thoughts. I agree with cowboy that liability is normally required for registering a car. Buying liability insurance from rental company might be just an extra insurance but not necessary. I will check with the counter when I pick up the car.
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Jul 8th, 2009, 05:48 AM
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Does anyone know how to say "road tax sticker" in Czech?
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Jul 8th, 2009, 07:42 AM
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Dálniční poplatek
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Jul 8th, 2009, 08:04 AM
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And a P.S. on insurance/liability:
At least for the part of your trip through Germany, there is no such thing as getting sued after an accident.
If, in the worst case, you should hit another person's car, cause damage to property and the well-being of that person, all claims (new car, repairs, hospital treatment etc.) are handled by your car's mandatory insurance. The opponent cannot sue you personally for, let's 100K for two lost fingers. He may sue your insurance company if he thinks that he received too little compensation.

One extra type of insurance that may be interesting is one that covers costs of litigation abroad. Because you could be the victim of an accident (what we don't hope for) and if you wanted to sue the other party's insurance company for whatever claims, you would have to pay for your lawyer etc. first, and only get reimbursed later IF you won the case. Lawyers here are not allowed to work for free and a piece of the cake later.
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Jul 8th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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cowboy 1968 - Wish we had known those Czech words a couple of months ago! We drew pictures and used hand gestures until we got together on it.

About the insurance that covers costs of litigation abroad -- where do we get that? details? Thanks.
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Jul 8th, 2009, 09:38 PM
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Thanks Cowboy!

Dal-nitch-nee pop-la-tek?? Is that the phonetic pronounciation?
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Jul 8th, 2009, 10:36 PM
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crckwc.. sorry, can't offer details.. I live in Germany, and here that type of insurance is sold by any insurer or the equivalent of your AAA.. it's

masterphil.. that "sounds" quite right (as if I was an expert on Czech phonetics lol).. emphasis should be on first syllable, respectively
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Jul 9th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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I thought perhaps you were a Czech cowboy....hahahaha
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Jul 9th, 2009, 05:56 AM
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Not really ;-)

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