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Rental Insurance and Car Type

Renting A Car In Europe

Part Two

LDW/CDW Damage Waiver

This brings me to car rental insurance coverage. There are a number of insurances that are offered with the rental at additional cost. What insurances to take? The LDW / CDW (Loss Damage Waiver / Collision Damage Waiver) is insurance for physical damage to the vehicle. This is charged daily and can add a significant cost to the rental. If you don’t pay for this you are responsible for any damage, whether your fault or someone else's. If you don’t pay for it, should something happen you will have to deal with it through your personal insurance company. If there is damage, the rental company will charge it to your credit card and then let you sort out the difference. Making a claim on your own policy may effect your insurance rates at home. Many credits cards are now offering rental damage insurance included with the card. This can save you the cost of paying for the daily collision waiver insurance, but if you have an incident (which can be as simple a someone side swiping your rental in a parking lot while you’re shopping, to scraping a tree branch on a narrow lane or the flying road debris to the windshield). The credit card insurance may well cover this and they try to make it as simple as possible, but you will spend several months making calls, sending paperwork and waiting with a heavy charge on your credit card until a determination or payout is made. I’ve rented a number of times without the LDW and never had a problem, but I must say that I spent most of a trip with half of my mind on whether the car was safe and worrying if the unexpected dent was just around the corner.

Personal Property & Passenger Insurance

Other insurances commonly added to the rental charge are personal and passenger insurance and property theft insurance. If you have more than just yourself traveling with you the passenger insurance may be of value, also depending on your personal health insurance. Insurance for personal belongings is a matter of choice. It is always a good idea to remove all personal property from a rental car when it is parked for any length of time, but this may not be practical when making brief stops. Most European countries are relatively safe, though Italy is quite notorious for auto burglary, especially if a rental car is from another country. Some rental companies will not insure for Italy. I’ve had a rental car from France in Italy for a full week without incident, but was mostly in small towns. The problem is probably more critical in larger urban areas.

Choosing a Car Class

In general European cars are all smaller than cars familiar to Americans. Two really good reasons for this generally. The high cost of fuel in Europe. Gas in Europe is highly taxed and has been around 8 US dollars per gallon. With recent hikes in gas prices Americans are getting a taste of this, but Europeans have known it for many years. Fuel in Europe is sold liters so the pump prices can be deceiving. On the other side of this equation is that European countries are a good deal smaller, many the size of American east coast states, so distances are less, though France and Germany do have some significant travel distances and Italy as well especially traveling north to south. The other reason, though perhaps not the cause for smaller cars is narrower roads in old towns and villages and very difficult parking. One of the reasons for the cute Smart Car (made by Mercedes) now being exported after more than ten years, is that the car's wheel base is as long as it is wide so it can park directly into a space rather than parallel. You may not want to drive around in a Smart car, but learn to appreciate a compact. On the other hand if you want to enjoy the German autobahn you might consider an upgraded vehicle with a good engine.

European rental companies have been recently offering SUV type vehicles for mid-size class. These can feel rather like driving a delivery van, but they do provide ride height and luggage capacity for carrying families. In England, a rental company will regularly offer an “upgrade” from a small class car for just a few pounds more. If you didn’t plan on a larger vehicle, don’t upgrade. English roads in the north and south and country lanes can be very narrow, a small car may be a little more cozy, but driving on the opposite side of a two-lane road the width of one lane, you’ll be happy you don’t have a lot of fender scraping stone fences at the edge of the road.

Fuel Type - Gas or Diesel

Diesel fuel in Europe is cheaper than gas and mileage is better. Diesel is very common in Europe and all gas stations will have both kinds of fuel. If you want to save on car rental budget try to get a diesel, if available, but be warned, make sure you put diesel in the tank and not gas. Should you make this common mistake, you’ll be driving down the road and in about ten minutes the engine will hesitate, choke and stall. The car will stop. You will now have to have the car towed and replaced with another. On top of the towing cost, you will be charge for the engine damage, and this will not be covered by insurance. In Germanic language countries Diesel is “Gazoil” or variation, gas is "Benzin", in the UK it is "Petrol". ©Bargain Travel Europe

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