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TRICKY (DECEPTIVE?) AVIS WEBSITE

Travelers who use the Avis website to book rental cars in Germany can select from a variety of optional insurance coverages. These choices are displayed as checkboxes, one of which is "Liability Insurance." Check the 'liability' box and you pay an additional $75 on an intermediate sedan for one week. What the Avis website fails to mention on this screen is that the company is required by law on every rental to provide liability insurance as part of the basic rental fee. (Liability covers injury to other persons or their property in an accident involving your car.) In other words, if you are involved in an accident and the other vehicle, or persons in it, are damaged, injured, or worse, the rental company "has your back," as the saying goes. In European rental contracts, the limit for this coverage is often described as "unlimited." If you are sued for millions, the rental company covers you. For obvious reasons, liability insurance cannot be left to the choice of the individual renter, yet Avis makes it appear as if that is exactly the case. One wonders how many of the thousands who book via the Avis website think to themselves, "well, of course, I need liability insurance" and simply check the box?

Only when you click a tiny "help" link are you taken to a page that provides a highly technical description of what this coverage provides, and uses the word "additional" to identify it—"Additional Liability Insurance" or ALI. (When I called Avis, both the reservationist and her supervisor agreed that liability coverage is included in the basic rental fee but neither was able to shed light on the advantages of purchasing ALI. The supervisor said it would be explained to me at the time of rental. Sure it will, and in perfect German, too.) You can go through the entire booking process and never see the key word "additional" in relation to this coverage. Why? I hesitate to accuse Avis of trying to fool site visitors into thinking ALI is the essential, required-by-law, liability insurance, but what other conclusion is possible? I presume including the word "additional" depresses sales of the product. But by doing so, Avis tricks people into buying unnecessary coverage. Shame on Avis. Deal with a real, live human being who knows a lot about European car rental. Call Andy at 800-521-6722 x 2, or get a written quote.