The Travel Troubleshooter: Broadsided by mandatory car rental insurance

Question: We booked a Budget rental car in Israel through Expedia recently. When my father arrived in Tel Aviv to collect his car, Budget would not give him the vehicle without mandatory theft protection and collision damage waiver. Since the policies are mandatory, shouldn’t they have been included in Expedia’s prices?

We had two other bookings through Expedia and Budget, which we tried to cancel. We couldn’t (Expedia said we had an incorrect reservation number).

We decided to go ahead and book through Budget directly, thinking it would be sorted out at the time of car hire collection. Big mistake. We were unfortunate enough to meet one of the rudest individuals I have encountered at the Budget car rental counter and he refused to honor the direct booking with Budget, only honoring the much more expensive Expedia one.

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Can you help us? — Marissa Barashi, Roselle, N.J.

Answer: Expedia should have quoted an all-inclusive rate when you booked your car. When it became clear that it didn’t, a quick call to the online agency should have fixed the problem.

Why? Because Expedia’s wide-ranging “promise” says it will help, guaranteeing that, “Whether you have questions about your itinerary or need help resolving a problem with the trip you booked, we’re here to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The online agency should have been able to retrieve your reservation through your full name, address or email. I have no idea what went wrong, but it’s pretty clear that Expedia didn’t keep its promise.

Some countries — and Israel is one of them — have mandatory insurance requirements. Those should have been noted when you made your reservation through Expedia. I checked the site after bringing your case to the company’s attention, and the insurance requirements are not disclosed until you click on the fine print, under “certain conditional charges.”

Expedia can do better.

Budget shares some of the blame for your negative car rental experience. The rude employee you dealt with should have been more understanding of the situation, and at least honored the less expensive reservation. If you’re ever in a situation like that again, try appealing to a manager or phoning the corporate office to make your case.

In the end, this problem could have been averted if Expedia had given you an all-in rate on the rental. Which is to say, insurance is required, and here’s the actual rate you’ll have to pay. It didn’t do that.

I contacted Expedia. The company agreed to reimburse you for the additional cost of the mandatory insurance you were required to buy. It also reviewed the details of your rental with Budget and threw in a $100 coupon by way of apology.

(Photo: Inba l and Nir/Flickr)

29 thoughts on “The Travel Troubleshooter: Broadsided by mandatory car rental insurance

  1. I would have chosen another choice.  The site should have clearly disclosed, in large type, that insurance was necessary to rent.  However, it should NOT have baked it into the rate.  Why?  There will be instances, say, frequent travelers to Israel, that may actually have Israeli insurance already.

  2. “quick call” to the online agency.  Giggle.

    I need a “Both A & B” button to be able to vote.  Disclosure should happen in every sales channel.

  3. I didn’t select any of the choices but I do believe that whichever entity accepts your money for a transaction should be the one that discloses all mandatory fees before you complete the order. As we find out all too often the traveller must be vigilant when purchasing online. This includes clicking those links that say additional charges may apply, reading the text beside the checked boxes on an order and especially reading each line before clicking the order button.  

    1. “I do believe that whichever entity accepts your money for a transaction should be the one that discloses all mandatory fees before you complete the order.” -Bill, that was well said.

      When you order anything on line, any final order includessales tax, shipping, and any other fees charged by the seller. Every transaction should include all fees necessary so that a final total can be assessed.

  4. Christopher I don’t know why you keep quoting Expedia’s promise as they never, ever in my experience are willing to help in any way when there is a problem.

      1. Yes, and I think he is quoting it no out of shock they they did not live by their pledge, but rather as a poke in Expedia’s eye about the pledge.  At least that is the way I always read it…

  5. Any mandatory charge should be included in the price quoted no matter who is quoting it.  No exceptions.  If it is mandatory, you have no option to not pay it.  This should apply to car rentals, hotels, airlines, everything.

    But what bothers me the most is that the OP had a reservation directly through the car rental company and the local office would not accept it.  I can understand the local outlet wanting to make the most money it can, but to not honor a reservation made through the parent company because it is a lower rate than through Expedia is just not right.  Isn’t the entire reason for using companies like Expedia is to get the lower price anyway?  This makes me not want to do business with Budget and reinforces my decision to never use online sites such as Expedia to book any travel arrangements. 

    1. Absolutely. This is why I may use Expedia to get a general idea of what the prices are, but I almost always go direct to the company’s website to book.

  6. The situation is not as black and white as being painted here.  The following are Budget’s Terms & Conditions for renting in Israel:

    • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection (TPC) are mandatory unless customer is paying with a major credit card known to provide such coverage benefits for vehicle rental that are VALID IN ISRAEL. The credit card coverage policy is subject to change without notice by the credit card companies. • If CDW and TP are declined it is MANDATORY to purchase Third Party (public) Liability insurance (3PL). Third party liability is not covered by rates. 

    Even on Budget.com, this is in the fine print at the very end of the booking process under a link you actually have to click on.

    So if Marissa’s father had proof that his credit card would have covered him for CDW and Theft, he would not be required to purchase this insurance.  He would however have to pay for Third Party Liability insurance however, so there is still some mandatory component.

    The bottom line is that rules are very different on insurance outside the US. Travelers need to do their legwork to investigate exactly what is required by the rental company before they leave for their trip.  There is excellent credit card coverage for international car rentals like World Mastercard and American Express Premium Rental Protection, but not all cards are created equal.  You need to check your coverage before you leave AND PRINT OUT A COPY of exactly what those coverages are to avoid problems at the rental counter.

    The car rental companies need to do a better job of disclosing these conditions, but until there is some sort of industry or government required mandate in place, I don’t see this happening since they try to avoid any mention of extra required charges during the booking process.

    1. they will not NOT acceptable by renters in Israel
      this is how they make money insurance is more then the rental
      the actual insurance is very low to the company

  7. The problem with car rental insurance in Israel is that nearly every insurance (including most credit cards) has specific exclusions for a few countries: usually Israel, Ireland, and Jamaica.  However, as of when I last checked (in 2009) World and World Elite Mastercards DO cover you, in which case collision insurance is NOT required (you might still need liability insurance).

    As someone who has rented from Budget in Tel Aviv, I can vouch for experiencing staff rudeness there myself.  [They kept me waiting excessively; aggressively tried to upsell; made me sign for a full gas tank; then gave me a car w/ a tank that was 3/4 full; they grudgingly made a notation  promising me a fuel credit upon return; upon return they claimed the contract precluded fuel credits– even though the language they referred to said no such thing; I ultimately prevailed with a small credit card dispute (<=$10).].

    1. I was just thinking many of the same things that you said–the whole travel/tourism industry in Israel is, in my experience/to my knowledge, well known for STUPEFYING rudeness and the general attitude that the tourist’s money really belongs to THEM, so just shut up and fork it over.  It’s easy to understand why credit card co’s that will provide rental-car coverage practically everywhere else on the planet, draw the line at Israel.  Imagine the insurance fraud that would go on otherwise… 

  8. I had a similar problem in Munich.  (I have sent the details to Chris). Although the Expedia web site clearly states that “LDW is optional”, the Dollar agent demanded written proof that my insurance coverage on my Platinum Mastercard is valid in Germany (it is). But, without that required “permission slip”, LDW is added to the rental cost – just about doubling the daily rate.

  9. The travel agency. Mandatory insurance charges should be baked in to the price of the rental car
    ********************
    Unless the rate is contractual, such as tour companies offer, what the travel agency sells is what the provider offers for them to sell.  An agency can’t bundle taxes or insurance independently nor will they take that liability unless the car company provides it to sell as an all in one price.

    1. The agency is earning a commission by booking the rental. It is therefore up to the agency to learn what is required when the customer gets to the rental counter and make sure that the customer is informed. Providing this sort of information should be one of the reasons why a customer would use an agency rather than the company’s website.

      1. But when they add it to their terms and conditions which you choose NOT to read, they aren’t at fault.  In this case, the client didn’t bother with the specific terms and conditions part of his rental, so was shocked when he found out.  DUH!

        1. From Chris Elliott’s narrative, it appears that the father was told about the mandatory insurance charges at the counter prior to renting the car. The contract’s terms and conditions do not seem to be an issue for this situation. 

          1. If he booked the car online, the information is just a click away….I went to the site and checked. 

      2. As an agent who does this, yes, you are correct. 

        It is very much like buying a water heater from a large box hardware store.  You get instructions on installation but the buyer needs to know  the laws and regulations of their area to know what else they might need.  Some cities don’t allow you to install at water heater without a permit.  The instruction pamplet won’t tell you that.  There is some responsiblility by the purchaser to know what they are doing or use a professional.

  10. The car rental agency. They have no business quoting a rate that doesn’t include a mandatory insurance charge.
    ************************************
    While this sounds good in principal, there are ways of not having to pay some of the mandatory fees, so if it was included and you had a credit card that allowed you not to have to pay it, that would you upset you, too. 

  11. I believe that it Expedia should have made the disclosure about the insurance more visible however I am bothered by the idea of “baking” it into the total price.  Part of the reason is that some folks already have coverage either via their credit card, their employer or through a contractual arrangement with the car rental company.  Another point is that travelers may need to purchase additional insurance and think that everything is included in the baked in price.

  12. PERHAPS THEY SHOULD HAVE GONE TO A TRAVEL AGENT – MOST TRAVEL AGENTS DO NOT CHARGE TO MAKE CAR RENTAL RESERVATIONS – NOR DO THEY COLLECT IN ADVANCE. THEIR EXPERTISE WILL ALSO GET YOU THE BEST RATES WITHOUT OBLIGATION TO ANY ONE COMPANY

  13. been there too
    it is all a scam they charge you for 2 weeks the insurance rate they pay for a whole year (I found the policy paper in one of the cars)
    the service is bad to say the least
    michael    Spirit Lake

  14. I don’t know I would have called anyone from Tel Aviv, Israel either.  International calls are incredibly priced on a cell phone, which would have been my only option.

    This rental agency in Tel Aviv was being predatory.  They felt they had the renter over a barrel and pushed it to the limit.

  15. “Whether you have questions about your itinerary or need help resolving a
    problem with the trip you booked, we’re here to help 24 hours a day,
    seven days a week.”

    Why do people read into this that they WILL resolve your issue.  All they promise is that they will be there to help – basically that they will answer the phone.  Nothing more.  Why does anyone assume more than that?  I just don’t get it.

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