Q: Hi, Peter. My 63-year-old sister and I (53 years) are looking to rent a car in Ireland to use during our vacation. The insurance is confusing. What do we really need?
Your personal auto-insurance policy won't cover you when you're abroad, so your options are to find out whether or not your credit card covers you or to buy the insurance offered at the rental counter.
To know exactly what type of insurance you have on your credit card, call the toll-free number on the back of the card that you plan to use for the rental. Most cards offer full collision damage coverage abroad, but they may specifically exclude Ireland and a few other countries.
If your credit card won't cover you in Ireland, you'll have to buy coverage at the rental-car counter. Bear in mind that car rentals in Ireland require fire and third-party liability insurance, but these are generally included in the daily rental rate (although you are advised to check; it depends on the company). Collision damage waiver and theft protection are optional and are charged at a per-day rate that can be quite high. However, it is important to buy the coverage, because you never know when you might hit someone, or if they might crash into you!
Another option would be to buy a travel-insurance policy that includes rental-car coverage. Go to www.insuremytrip.com to compare different plans.
But consider this: When it comes to left-side-of-the-road driving, you may not end up in an accident, but you sure could cause a few! Those notorious roundabouts often wreak havoc with U.S. drivers. Think about whether you want to rent a car or if it's worth hiring a car and driver for excursions and day trips.