Europe for Visitors - Home
Home Main Menu

Arrow"Best of the Web" - Washington Post

Europe > Insurance > Rental-car insurance

Rental-Car Insurance

When you rent a car in Europe, liability insurance is normally included in the rate. Fire and theft insurance may also be included, but it's always a good idea to ask.

What typically isn't included is insurance against collision damage. To protect yourself against having to pay for car repairs (or even a brand-new car) in the event of an accident, you need a Collision Damage Waiver or "CDW." This is available from three sources:

Rental agencies

The rental agent will offer you a Collision Damage Waiver when you pick up your car. In a few countries, such as Italy, you may be required to take the CDW. The cost isn't cheap--typically 10 to 25 euros or U.S. dollars per day--but buying it from the rental-car firm is simple and offers peace of mind. You may also want to inquire about theft insurance, (LDW), which is usually mandatory with Italian car rentals but is optional in most countries.

Credit-card companies

Some credit-card companies provide free collision insurance for rentals charged on their Gold or Platinum cards. Unfortunately, the coverage isn't always as good as it seems, and many card issuers no longer protect overseas travelers or limit their protection to cheaper cars.

To make matters worse, you may be required to authorize a deposit on your credit card up to the replacement cost of the vehicle, which isn't very practical if the car's value is more than your credit-card limit. If you get into an accident, you'll normally have to settle up with the rental firm, then seek reimbursement from the credit-card company after you get home.

Avoiding the need for extra insurance

If you live outside the EU and are driving for at least 17 days, consider a short-term lease instead of a traditional car rental. You'll get a new, factory-fresh car that's fully insured at no extra cost. As a bonus, leases are available to drivers who may be too young or too old for a standard car rental.

 Inexpensive Collision Damage Waivers

Travel Guard International, a leading U.S. travel-insurance specialist, sells a worldwide $35,000 Car Rental Collision Insurance Plan for only US $9.00 per day. This rate is a bargain compared to the CDW rates charged by rental-car firms, although there is a $250 deductible.

Final tips

  • If you plan to cross national borders in a European rental car, make sure you have the rental firm's approval and any required documentation before you leave the country where you rented the car. This is especially important when driving to Italy and Eastern Europe.

  • If you're a resident of Britain or Continental Europe, check with your car-insurance agent or broker to learn what may be covered by your existing policy.

Smart car

ABOVE: In Breisach, Germany, a little car promotes Big Macs.

Related articles

Travel Insurance
When the unexpected occurs, trip coverage can save the day.

Driving in Europe
Information and links on trip planning, car rentals, short-term leases, traffic laws, International Driving Permits, and more.

Car or Train?
Should you tour Europe on four wheels or ride the rails? Use this quiz and related resources to make a wise decision.

Europe by Van and Motorhome
Relive the '60s in a VW van or cruise the Continent in a land yacht.

Money tools and tips at
Europe on a budget (money-saving tips)
Currency converter
The euro
ATMs and exchange machines
ATM conversion fees
Using credit cards in Europe
Credit-card surcharges
Prepaid Travel Money Cards (debit cards)
Traveler's checks
Tax-free shopping (VAT refunds)
Travel-insurance articles