Hear this: you want a rental car contract that does not include collision damage waiver (CDW)–LDW (loss damage waiver) in Europe—or theft insurance. Naturally you want the coverage, you just don't want it from your rental company. Why? Because, as the UK magazine Which? Holiday says:

Most car-hire fees automatically include some kind of car insurance, however, in most cases, these policies protect the company and not the consumer. Customers with damaged cars often have to pay out large excess fees. The article goes on to declare, The excess (deductible) fee that the consumer would have to pay in the event of an accident if they had rented a car from any one of the five most popular car-hire firms in the UK and collected their car from an airport in Ireland, ranged between €779 ($1207) to €1,947 ($3,018).

We've been saying this for years, but it's nice to hear it from another source. When renting a car through a Europe-based company, such as Argus or Nova, or directly from a supplier such as Europcar, the insurance is almost always included, but with a high deductible (excess). In addition, this included insurance, which "protects" the renter from damage and theft, often excludes damage to many parts of the car including the windshield, wheels, roof, undercarriage, tires and interior. When you make a booking online from all the Europe-based companies I've seen, this information is unearthed only after a diligent search and the clicking of several links. And, just as soon as you sign a rental car contract including theft and CDW, it is extremely likely that your credit card insurance will be invalidated, because, except in rare cases, in order for your free, zero-deductible credit card insurance to be in effect, you can't have any other coverage...regardless of the amount of that coverage's deductible.

Most gold, platinum, Amex, and Diners' Club credit cards offer free CDW/theft. Visa's Website contains a fairly clear and straightforward description of what its insurance does and does not cover. Most ordinary passenger vehicles are covered but travelers who plan to drive a nine-passenger van, a Porsche sports car, or a Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Audi, with a sticker price over about $45,000, should check with their credit card company.

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