Europe is what vacation dreams are made of. For those of us confined to the other side of the sea (or borders), Europe represents exotic beauty and exciting adventures. Most of us have dreams in which we’re sipping coffee in a Parisian cafe, lazing on a gondola in Venice, or posing with David in Rome. The famous sculpture, not a random man (though the latter works too!)
However, the best thing about traveling through Europe is also the most daunting one. Everyone wants to explore the attractions present in the continent, usually through a road trip, but they don’t know how to start. The unfamiliarity may hold people back from enjoying their journey to the fullest. Knowing what to expect gives you confidence, and as they all say, confidence is key.
Tourists may not have the same street smartness and savviness as locals, but they can sure come close! Doing simple things like planning before or renting a car can make your vacation infinitely more comfortable and enjoyable. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about car rental insurance in Europe and how you can make your vacation over there one to remember.
Why you need car rental insurance
Can one live without car rental insurance? Sure. The question is, should you want to? For some reason, some people have always considered getting car rental insurance as something optional. Worse yet, some people don’t even know what it is! People planning for a vacation get to thinking and decide that they already have so many logistics to handle. How bad could dismissing this one teeny weeny expense be? Don’t listen to that voice! Refusing protection has the potential to become a massive headache and leave your pockets hurting.
Europe has many sites worth seeing, and travelers want to fit as many excursions as possible. This is where car rental comes in. Renting a vehicle gives people the convenience of moving around at their own will. They can go wherever they want, whichever way they want, and for however long they want. But since most of us can’t afford to take our car with us as luggage or buy a new car in every place we visit, we stick to good ol’ renting.
There’s just one problem with driving around a car that’s not your own: it’s not your car. Therefore, you are liable to pay the (often costly) fees for any damage you cause. Once you take ownership of the vehicle, it becomes your responsibility. And since you’re going to a new place with new rules and new drivers with new levels of road rage, you shouldn’t want to risk winging it. Car rental insurance gives you peace of mind during your vacation. You can rest assured that whatever happens, you’re covered.
When in Europe, do as the Europeans do
While getting a rental car in Europe isn’t much different than getting a rental car in the U.S., there are some fundamental differences. If you aren’t careful and don’t make a point to prepare yourself for a different driving experience by researching European driving tips, you’ll be in for quite a shock when you land at your destination. Imagine you get a rental car, open the door to the driver’s seat, and get ready to drive only to find out that the steering wheel is on the other side!
My right or your right?
That’s right. Some countries in Europe, notably the United Kingdom, drive on the road’s left-hand side, meaning the steering wheel is on the car’s right side. It is the opposite in the United States, so native U. S. drivers might have trouble adjusting to the new rules. Similarly, many European hotspots are notorious for their heavy traffic, which may pose a challenge to people not used to the rush. Features such as cruise control may also not be an option, so be prepared to reenact Fast and Furious if the need arises!
Permit-ssion to drive
Your driving license will usually suffice in Europe, but not always. Therefore, you should look into International Drivers Permits and see if you need one. The document is similar to a passport and is a translation of your home country’s driver’s license. Local law in some European countries requires you to carry this permit when driving, so make sure you get one made (preferably before you land in Europe). You can easily find the forms for the International Drivers Permit online.
Car rental insurance in Europe
Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced about the advantages of getting a rental car and car rental insurance, let’s go over some essentials.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
This waiver covers the damages done to a vehicle during a car accident. This is the most basic form of cover for your rental car, and you are required to have it in certain countries, such as Italy. Almost every insurance policy you purchase will include this, but you should still confirm the requirements of all the European countries you’re visiting.
Some credit cards carry primary CDW coverage on car rentals. If your credit card is one of them, you should reserve your rental car and pay with this credit card. Remember, most credit cards have conditional coverage and exclude certain vehicles or countries. In this case, it’s your responsibility to research the coverage limit and deductibles, so you don’t count your eggs before they hatch.
However, you’re not done yet. You should always have some excess cover for more protection. An example would be theft-protection insurance, which insures you in case the rental car is stolen. This isn’t necessary, but getting it will ease your mind during your vacation.
You are what you eat
You probably didn’t think you’d ever have to worry about what fuel you were putting in your car, but here we are. European rental cars either use gasoline or diesel as fuel, and these are not interchangeable. Putting the wrong kind of fuel in the vehicle can damage the engine, which you will have to pay for. Be smart, and make sure you ask the specifications of the car when renting it.
All cars are not equal
As mentioned above, some rental cars are exempted from specific CDW policies. These premium cars often require expensive car rental insurance and can leave a dent in your pocket if you get into an accident with them. The best advice is to stick to comfortable, less flashy cars. They do the same thing at half the price. Additionally, it is essential to note that renting automatic vehicles is more expensive than renting manual ones. If you’re comfortable and skilled at driving stick shifts, choose the latter to save money.
Here’s the thing. People tend to over-prepare almost as much as they tend to under prepare. Many people fall victim to temptation and overspend on things they can do without. Don’t be like those people. GPS is a prime example of that since travelers need navigators to get from place to place. Car rental companies will try to sell you accessories like GPS “at a bargain”, but you shouldn’t fall for it. Your phone has applications that will serve the same purpose and for free.
Just because you can learn the lesson the hard way doesn’t mean you should. Many people take the adventure part of traveling too seriously and end up being reckless. This is never a good idea. If you’re going to the trouble of making your vacation in Europe perfect, you should make sure you do it right. Getting car rental insurance for your rental car will go a long way in making your trip safe and fun. Do your research, come prepared, ask the right questions, and get ready to have the vacation of a lifetime!