Car Rental Insurance Terms You Must Understand When Booking Your Ireland Vacation

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Car rental is something I speak about with regularity, both here on Ireland Family Vacations and with travelers who are planning their Ireland vacation. The reason is simple: car rental in Ireland is not as ‘straight forward' as it is in other countries. And if you aren't prepared you may encounter a bit of sticker shock before you can take that car out onto the Irish roads.

Ireland Car Rental

The problem mainly comes from four terms: Liability Insurance, CDW (collision damage waiver) or CDI (collision damage insurance), VIP Express, and Free Insurance Protection.

It can be confusing, and for that I apologize, but bear with me as I lead you through these…

Car Rental Insurance Terms You Must Understand

Limited Liability Insurance This is included on every car rental, automatically

What it covers: Assists in paying the damages caused to another person's property when you are at fault in an accident.

What it doesn't cover: The damage to you or your own (rental) car in an accident when you are at fault.

What you need to know: Sometimes this will be listed as CDW but it is not the full CDW, only the liability. (I know, confusing). Rental companies in Ireland will not let you rent a car without additional coverage in place. You are required to have rental coverage via your credit card (more on this below) or purchase a CDW Excess or CDI Excess, which may or may not carry a deductible.

Collision Damage Waiver This is a legal requirement when renting a car in Ireland

What it covers: Limits your financial liability for material damage to the vehicle, including theft, as long as the vehicle is used in accordance with the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.

What it doesn't cover: The deductible you will pay in case of damage.

What you need to know: Adding this will cost you extra (often called excess; ie CDW Excess or CDI Excess), ranging from €15-25 per day, depending on type of vehicle, length of rental, and rental company.

Tip: If possible purchase this prior to your trip. Not only will you have it taken care of in your own currency (thereby skipping exchange fees) but you will be out the door and in your car quicker! Currently Irish Car RentalsDan Dooley and Auto Europe offer pre-purchase of CDW. You can also pre-purchase CDW Excess at most major car rental websites that end in .ie (not .com)

VIP Express  Also called VIP Express Insurance

What it is: A service offered by some tour packages which adds CDW/ CDI to your self drive vacation package.

What you need to know: This often needs to be added when you make your booking; you may not be able to add it separately to your package.

Free Insurance Protection You may see this listed on some car rental websites

What it is: CDW and theft protection coverage.

What they don't tell you (unless you hit the ‘details' link): USA and Canadian rates generally do not include CDW; please check the rental terms to confirm what is included.

Tip: Be sure to read the rental terms thoroughly before renting a car. You will find accepted credit cards listed here (note that Discover card is not accepted in Ireland), as well as insurance coverage, fuel and mileage limits, restrictions, etc.

What you need to know about credit card insurance coverage in Ireland

Certain credit cards offer collision damage cover for the driver, however most VISA, Mastercard and American Express card issuing companies in the USA have withdrawn coverage for car rental in the Republic of Ireland. A number of Canadian issued credit cards also offer coverage.

If the customer wishes to use their credit card to cover collision damage, a current letter of Authorization from the credit card company must be presented at the time of rental in order to waive the CDI coverage. Client should note that theft insurance may not be included.

Tip: Letter needs to be issued less than 2 weeks prior to picking up the car. A quick call to your card issuer will result in an immediate email of authorization. Print this out and present to rental company. Credit card used to rent the car must be the same as credit card offering coverage.

It is your sole responsibility to determine coverage with your provider and present proof upon arrival. If proof of coverage is insufficient, you will be liable for the full value of the vehicle and a minimum deposit of €3,000/£2,500 will be required. Alternatively, you may opt to purchase CDW/CDI locally which will limit your liability.

Also note that your credit card will have a ‘hold' place on it for at least €3000 (often €5000) in case of damage, so be sure your credit limit is sufficient. This ‘hold' is released when the car is returned undamaged.

One Final Note on Car Rental in Ireland

Most car rental companies will not rent a car to persons under 25 years of age. Those that rent to ages 21 and up add a surcharge to those under 25 (appx €30 per day + tax).

So… any questions?


  1. Great article on Rental Car in Ireland CDW and CDI coverages. I have contacted my credit card company and have obtained necessary paperwork for proof for those coverages. However my concern is what coverage(s) do I need if I or other designated driver is at fault for damage of rental car and/or other vehicle(s) and/or injuries and/or death of persons, livestock or property ?

      All Irish car rentals include liability for injuries to other people and property. For injuries to yourself be sure to check the coverage provided by your credit card (remember- it must be the credit card you booked the trip with!). If that isn’t sufficient I recommend purchasing Travel Insurance. Get all my travel insurance tips here.

    I did verify with my credit card company (Chase) that their auto rental is covered globally, including all of Ireland! It covers costs up to the price of the vehicle as well as theft. It does not cover injury to anyone or anything inside or outside of vehicle. Do you recommend additional coverage as well?

      Chase is one of the two credit cards in the US that covers car rental in Ireland (and is accepted in Ireland.) I use a World Mastercard, and their coverage includes this information:

      We will pay for the following on a secondary basis: > Physical damage and theft of the vehicle, not to exceed the limits outlined below. > Reasonable loss of use charges imposed by the vehicle rental company for the period of time the rental vehicle is out of service. Loss of use charges must be substantiated by a location and class specific fleet utilization log. > Towing charges to the nearest collision repair facility. This coverage is not all-inclusive, which means it does not cover such things as personal injury, personal liability, or personal property. It does not cover you for any damages to other vehicles or property. It does not cover you for any injury to any party.

      Your basic rate for car insurance should include limited liability for injuries or damages to persons or things outside the vehicle and fire coverage – check the small print for limits. So the only thing you aren’t covered for is theft from the vehicle.

      Tip: when using credit card coverage for your rental do be sure to take a printed letter, dated no more than 2 weeks prior to your trip, to the car rental office. Without proof you will have to purchase CDW Excess.

      Hope that helps!

    So, if I purchase VIP Express as part of my vacation package, then I don’t need to purchase any other type of car insurance, correct? I believe the VIP Express is zero deductible.

      That is my understanding, Mary Beth. I’m not sure what package you purchased but here’s the info I have:

      VIP Express Insurance on car rentals is available to be booked prior to departure at a discounted rate. This coverage will confirm a “zero” deductible, walk-away policy covering any damage to the vehicle.

      This tells me that you have as much coverage as possible and a zero deductible in case of accident. You should be good.

      Safe Travels!

    Can’t wait to be confronted with all the above when we get to Ireland this summer. (Sarcasm, lol). We’re renting TWO vehicles, so we’ll have double the fun.

      It’s fine! I promise! At least you are prepared and know what is ahead. You have no idea how many people arrive in Ireland and get this info for the first time when they pick up their car! It can break a trip if they don’t have the money to cover it!

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