14 October 2015

You're Insured, Right?

So, you're traveling; do you have insurance?

There are so many types of insurance to plan for when traveling abroad, some more obvious than others, some trickier than others.

One of the first that people think of is traveler insurance - this will get you home early if you get sick, sometimes it includes emergency medical coverage, and sometimes theft. We have used this at times, and sometimes we forego this coverage.

An unusual type of insurance is for a vacation rental. You can usually buy insurance at the same time you arrange for the rental - this will reimburse you if the rental is not what you expected. But another type covers the contents of the rental in case of damage, and seems to be only requested in France, by the rental landlord. This is impossible to buy unless you are actually moving to France.

Another is collision damage insurance on a rental car. Most people know that the major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard) offer this as a benefit (that is, an incentive to use their card). I have used this my entire car-renting life, and it saves a great deal of money and anxiety.

HOWEVER! As we recently discovered, there are some little-known restrictions on this "free benefit." Every time we expect to rent a car, we call our credit card company to make sure this coverage is available. We always get the short list of instructions, such as (1) decline the car rental company's collision insurance, (2) make sure the driver's credit card is used, (3) reserve and pay for the rental with the credit card. We always tell them the country and the basic type of car. Never once has any representative we talked to mentioned a time limit!

Well, sure enough, on this trip, we discovered some (fortunately) minor damage to our car. We paid the charge (approximately 500€) and the rental cost on the credit card, and called Visa when we got home. As I was going through the checklist with the Visa benefits representative, I hear "this is not covered" - my brain stutters a bit at this... And why is that? Believe it or not, it's because we rented the car for over 31 days!*  You'd better believe that we would have modified our plans by those few days if we had known about this. Even worse, think what would have happened if we had totaled the car?!? (I looked - 14,000€)

*The limit is 15 days in your home country.
This (https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/card-benefits.html) links to the list of restrictions - Note that several countries, including Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica, are not covered at all.
This is the direct line to the benefits office: (804)673-1164
Quote from above webpage: "we recommend you check with your auto rental company and the Benefit Administrator before you travel to make sure Visa Auto Rental CDW will apply."

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