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Renting a car in Ireland? Check on the insurance

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Double check.

That’s the advice to visitors to Ireland who think they can use their credit card to automatically obtain collision damage insurance when they rent a car.

A number of credit card companies are no longer covering losses from motor vehicles rented in Ireland. However, auto renters may obtain insurance from the rental company, which, of course, may be paid for using a credit card.

Echo reader William Burke, from Fords, N.J., said a leaflet he recently obtained from Visa pointed out that its gold card auto rental insurance did not cover losses from motor vehicles rented in Ireland, Isr’l or Jamaica.

"Only that I read the small print I would have not noticed this," Burke said.

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John Murphy of Brooklyn also discovered that Visa was not providing collision waiver damage insurance in Ireland, Isr’l or Jamaica when he read a leaflet accompanying a recent credit card statement.

"I was really annoyed at this because one reason I went for the platinum card is that they had this CDW insurance," Murphy said. "This was a perk we had."

Murphy also complained about the high cost of car insurance in Ireland, saying car rental companies were not in the rental business but in the insurance business.

Collision damage insurance costs about £10 per day. This is in addition to the actual price for renting the car.

A spokesperson for Visa International in San Francisco referred queries from the Echo to Visa’s office in London. However, the Echo was unable to obtain comment from London.

A spokeswoman for American Express said that American Express does provide car rental loss and damage insurance around the world, with "some exceptions."

She added that the exceptions included Ireland because there had been a disproportionate number of claims, so there was a prohibitive cost associated with providing insurance in that market.

However, the American Express spokeswoman pointed out that people can still use an American Express card to rent cars in Ireland and then purchase the car rental company’s insurance.

A spokesman for MasterCard said that MasterCard does provide coverage worldwide, with some exceptions. "Folks may experience an inability to use this service in Ireland," the spokesman said. He added: "We recommend that they contact the car rental company before they travel, but MasterCard does in fact provide the coverage, it’s just a question of whether the car rental agency or company in Ireland will accept it."

A recent leaflet from MasterCard to its goldcard holders, states: "You may experience an inability to use this service in Australia, Ireland, Isr’l, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand. Please contact your car rental company before you travel."

Despite protestations about this policy by credit card companies, the fact remains that accidents and deaths on Irish roads, and claims arising from these, are high. This year alone, more than 20 people have already been killed on the roads in Ireland.

Another Echo reader, Joe Conway of Cleveland, said he had heard of drivers over the age of 70 experiencing difficulty in obtaining car insurance in Ireland, something that Joseph Byrne, the Irish Tourist Board’s executive vice president for North America, said had been an issue for quite a while.

"The rules of several car companies do not permit people to take the rental company’s insurance," Byrne said. He added that they may obtain a separate insurance policy or make arrangements to transfer their own insurance.

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