What is a CDW and Do I Need It in Ireland?

I answer many questions about travel in Ireland, but the most popular topic- by far- concerns driving in Ireland.  A couple weeks ago I received a question about CDW- collision damage waiver.  While you can opt out of the CDW in some countries, it is a mandatory coverage in Ireland.  And while many credit cards offer CDW coverage if you use them to pay for the rental, a slightly deeper search shows that they do not cover rentals in Ireland.

Stay Left When Driving in Ireland

Remember to Stay Left When Driving in Ireland; Taken in Rural Killarney, March 2008

So, what is the CDW and why do you have to have it?

Shawna from Tenon Tours was kind enough to share with me how their company describes CDW to their clients:

Check terms and insurance rates for various companies.  Each company has different amounts, but the insurance works the same for everyone.  CDW costs are handled upon arrival.   Below are examples of your options:

Option 1:

No coverage, customer is liable for all damage. Not available in Ireland. The Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that is included in your rental agreement is mandatory when renting a car in Ireland. It provides the minimum required coverage.

Option 2:

Opt for the basic CDW included in your rental agreement. Based on the type of car you rent, you will be covered up to a certain limit (usually over 1,000 Euros per car, with increases per car size). If there is damage to the car you will be responsible for any amount exceeding the covered limit.

Option 3:

Opt for CDW w/ Excess. This insurance upgrade is available at a per-day date (normally from 10 to 15 euros). This option reduces your liability to zero. If there is damage to your car you will not be responsible.

The option you choose is up to you. However, if you do not take the Excess (option 3) your rental company will require a credit card deposit equal to your coverage amount (option 2).

This is still a little confusing, so I’ll break it down a bit more:  You cannot rent a car in Ireland without purchasing insurance.   Insurance is paid for when you pick up the car in many cases, so be sure to have room on your credit or debit card for this fee.  If you opt for basic CDW (option 2) a “hold” will be placed on your card equal to the coverage amount you choose (easily $500 or more).

CDW can easily double your car rental fees so it pays to do your homework.

I prefer to rent with Dan Dooley.  Their rental rates are very competitive and are fully inclusive – no cash out of hand when you pick up the car.  A quote for an intermediate station wagon (group E2), pick up and drop off at the Dublin airport with CDW w/ Excess  for October 30-November7, 2011 came back as $777.87.

I quoted a few more companies using the same perimeters:

Thrifty wasn’t so promising at $696.19- not including the upgraded CDW, airport fee and administration fee.

The cost with Avis was $588.37- but the CDW w/ Excess added $1852.05, due on arrival.  Ouch!

Budget was $520.62, again before CDW which is an additional EUR € 16.50 per day + VAT at 13.5% .

Argus Rent a Car came in at $510.65 and included the basic cdw, and airport fees- a CDW w/ Excess would add 16.5 EUR per Day.

Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland:

  • Research the cars in the class you are renting- know what you can expect.  Cars are smaller there, as we found out the last time we rented a car in Ireland.
  • Don’t assume the best deal by the price- look at what is included.
  • Pay in US dollars if at all possible.
  • Rent from an Irish company- their rates are usually better and more inclusive.
  • Do a walk around of the car if you don’t purchase the CDW w/ Excess.  (Also take time-stamped photos when you pick up and drop off the car- just in case you get a repair billing you don’t agree with)

Have you rented a car in Ireland?  Do you have tips or a favorite company?  I welcome your input in the comments!

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