Ireland Rental Car Insurance: What is CDW Coverage and Why Do I Need It?

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I answer many questions about travel in Ireland, but the most popular topic- by far- concerns driving in Ireland.  One of the most common questions I receive is about Ireland rental car insurance, particularly CDW coverage (Collision Damage Waiver).

car at Durrow Viaduct, County Waterford, Ireland
Follow the road less traveled- you never know what you might discover!

CLICK HERE to learn Everything You Need to Know About Car Rental in Ireland

Ireland Rental Car Insurance and CDW Coverage

While you can opt out of the CDW coverage in some countries, it is a mandatory insurance 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 most do not cover rentals in Ireland.

Corkscrew Hill, a wonderful ride on the N67. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Ireland's narrow, winding roads and stone walls are one reason most credit cards don't include Ireland rental car insurance and CDW coverage.

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

Put very simply, CDW coverage limits your liability for material damage to the vehicle.
Option 1:
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 €3,000 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 2:
Opt for CDW w/ Excess (also called CDW Excess, CDI Excess, Super CDW, Super Damage Waiver). This insurance upgrade is available at a per-day date (normally from €18-25). This option reduces your liability to €100 or even zero. If there is damage to your car you will not be responsible beyond the deductible.

The option you choose is up to you. However, if you do not take the Excess (option 2) your rental company will require a credit card deposit equal to your coverage amount (option 1).

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 in some way.  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 1) a “hold” will be placed on your card equal to the coverage amount you choose (Usually €5000 or more).

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

I prefer to rent with Irish Car Rentals.  Their rental rates are very competitive and Super Damage Waiver (CDW Excess) can be added when you book online – no cash out of hand when you pick up the car and you are paying in your local currency, so no conversion fees.

I also compare costs with Auto Europe which will also allow you to add Super CDW when you reserve your vehicle.

Lighthouse at Sheeps Head Peninsula. Things to do in County Cork
There are many places in Ireland you can't get to by bus, like this spot on Sheeps Head Peninsula.

What About Credit Card Insurance Coverage in Ireland?

Certain credit cards (World Mastercard and Chase Sapphire) 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 few Canadian issued credit cards also offer coverage.

If the customer wishes to use their credit card to cover collision damage, they must first waive CDW when reserving their rental car, then obtain 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 or more) in case of damage, so be sure your credit limit is sufficient. This ‘hold’ is released when the car is returned undamaged.

What About Travel Insurance Policies that Cover Car Rental?

Third party excess policies do not reduce your excess to zero. They simply insure the excess. This means that if your excess (the amount held on your credit card) is taken due to damage caused by you during your rental, you can claim this amount back through the company you purchased this policy from.

You must have proof of the policy when you pick up the car and it must confirm relevant coverage for the Republic of Ireland. You will be required to leave an excess (often €5000 or more) held on the credit card used to rent the car.

Drivers who arrive without a relevant card and letter, or those who do not have excess available on their card, will be required to purchase SCDW/ Excess/ Super CDW coverage from the car rental company.

Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland:

  • Research the cars in the class you are renting- know what you can expect.  Rent the smallest car you can comfortably use. – and don't forget about your luggage.
  • Don't assume the best deal by the price- look at what is included and not included, in the price. Compare apples to apples.
  • Pay in your local currency if possible, to avoid currency exchange fees.
  • Rent from an Irish company- their rates are usually better and more inclusive.
  • Do a walk around of the car before driving away.  (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.)

Get More Information on Renting a Car in Ireland

Everything You Need to Know About Car Rental in Ireland – 8 steps to renting a car in Ireland

16 COMMENTS

  1. Is an outside car insurance policy accepted for a car rental, such as a car protection policy through Allianz?

      Hi Jane – and thanks for your question.
      It was actually such a good question that I added it to my Everything You Need to Know About Car Rental in Ireland article.

      Third party excess policies do not reduce your excess to zero. They simply insure the excess. This means that if your excess is taken due to damage caused by you during your rental, you can claim this amount back through the company you purchased this policy from.

      You must have proof of the policy when you pick up the car and it must confirm relevant coverage for the Republic of Ireland.
      You will be required to leave an excess of 5,000Euro- held on the credit card used to rent the car. Drivers who arrive without a relevant card and letter, or those who do not have 5,000Euro available on their card, will be required to purchase our CDW and Theft Waiver at the local daily rate.

      I hope that helps!

    I agree. I took vacation in 2016. Picked up car in Dublin. less than 15 minutes later I had hit a curb and blew out the tire and dented the rim. Thankfully I had chosen the CDW . Called the rental company, They said if I could have tire replaced they would refund the money back to me. Cost around 150 Euros and got credit back the day I returned the car. Being from U.S and first time driving a right hand car on the left hand side of road it was a challenge. I don’t know how the side view mirror stayed on the car after hitting the hedge rows so often.

    […] than a decade gathering my favorite places to help other families plan ultimate Irish itineraries. Rent a car (and read up on the proper rental insurance) and make a circle covering the entire country and […]

    Remember, you will be tired coming off the plane and you think you will have your wits about you, but you won’t, and they are good at their job. Take your time. Do not get pressured. Shop around at the airport and look for competative rates. You are still going to get stung, but it won’t hurt as much if you get even a lightly better rate. In our experience most will negotiate especially on the cdw.

      Thanks for sharing, Brian! I’m impressed with your tenacity at finding the best rate!
      That said, I stood in line this June for over 90 minutes- just to get a car I had reserved at Dublin airport! So I would caution against this during high season.
      Also to note- there was a lady in front of me that stood in line for as long as I did, only to be turned away because there were no excess cars that day. She didn’t have a reservation and had to shift her plans to leave until the next day.

      im having a hard time getting this answered. if I buy the insurance, will they still put some ungodly hold on my credit card? I have now problem buying insurance. I have a huge problem with $3000 tied up on my credit card while im trying to be on vacation.

        Hi Anthony. If you purchase the excess insurance there will be NO HOLD on your credit card. 😉

    […] Car rental in Ireland can be a bit tricky.  Unlike most countries, a major credit card will not cover your insurance (in most instances).  Therefore, you must purchase a CDW when you pick up the car.  You have a couple of options for CDW and it can be a bit confusing, so I recommend reading this article about CDWs in Ireland. […]

    […] rental.  Rental fees vary wildly and only a few are all inclusive.  You’ll want to study my tips for renting a car in Ireland closely and do your homework. Another thing to remember when renting a car: petrol is paid for by […]

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