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.
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 Rentals, Dan 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?