Traveling to Italy in the near future? It's a great place to visit! However, the rental car user must be aware of many "nuances" that come up when traveling in Italy, a country with different business practices than our own. Renting in Italy for the first time does require attention to details that might seem routine or be taken for granted on domestic rentals, mostly in the planning phase. And with that, here are AutoSlash's five tips to consider when renting a car in Italy!

"Your Insurance is No Good Here"

Do you remember the line "Your money's no good here" from The Shining? In the movie, the statement was figurative and meant Jack didn't have to pay. In Italy, you might find "Your insurance is no good here". And in Italy, that would need to be interpreted literally. Many credit cards, like this American Express, specifically exclude the entire country of Italy from their Loss and Damage Waiver Insurance program. We can't provide advice or guidance on banking, credit card, and insurance products -- we leave that to insurance professionals (and other bloggers) -- but a renter desiring to pick up a car anywhere in the world should understand exclusions from their credit card coverage and personal insurance policies. Otherwise, the results could include personal financial responsibility (if something undesired happens) or a decision to buy additional coverage for a rental car directly from the rental car company (at additional cost, of course).

Credit card coverage, often secondary, might be non-existent in Europe.

CDW and Theft Protection Coverage is Required

Damage waivers and theft protection (TP) are required in Italy, so we know that probably prompts multiple questions:

Question: Why do I need to worry about my credit card's damage waiver coverage if a damage waiver is required by the rental car company?

Answer: The damage waiver required by Italian law is not a complete damage waiver. It has what Europeans call a "non-waivable excess" or U.S. residents call a deductible. If there's damage to the vehicle, the renter will still pay up to the deductible with the required damage protection.

Question: Do the rental car companies add these two "required" coverages at the counter? 

Answer: If you book through us, these required (by law) coverages are already included! When a tax or fee is required from 100% of renters, the rental car companies include those charges in the quotes provided to us. If you book elsewhere, these could be added at the counter unless shown in your taxes and fee breakdown.

Extended families might result in multiple vehicles

Renting in the U.S. with a large family? It just might be possible to fit everyone in a full-size van seating 12-15. The concept of a 15-passenger van doesn't exist throughout Europe due to driver licensing restrictions. A full-size van will -- at most -- seat a total of 9 people (driver plus 8 passengers) and will be clearly noted in the details provided by the rental car companies at the time of booking.

A full-size van in Europe is not much larger than a minivan in the United States.

Automatic transmissions may be hard to find

That 9-passenger, full-size van? Even that vehicle has a high probability of being a manual transmission -- if the rental car company doesn't have or list any automatic transmissions for rent, the vehicle will be a manual transmission! Really need an automatic transmission? Most neighborhood locations will not have automatic transmissions; the vehicle would likely need to be picked up and returned at an airport. 

We would enjoy this much more than most drivers (and family members)

Follow all traffic laws (all the time)

AutoSlash: "Repeat after us: The Italians love traffic enforcement cameras." 

Audience: "The Italians love traffic enforcement cameras." 

Good. Traffic cameras are insidious because:

  1. The fines come many months after the traffic infraction and
  2. The rental car companies charge "Administrative Fees" for handling traffic infractions.  

We'll get e-mails from customers telling the same story:

"Can you help? I rented from (insert company) in Italy 6-8 months ago and (insert company) just put another charge of XX on my credit card!"

Sadly, no, we can't help, and the reason the charge was just XX dollars is that's just the administrative fee; the renter hasn't received the actual citation yet.

In Italy, there are two particularly common instances of receiving tickets from traffic cameras -- speeding and violating restricted traffic zones. The speeding component is self-explanatory but like many other places in the world, Italy has rules to help reduce traffic congestion in many cities. These zones in Italy are referred to as ZTL -- Zona Traffico Limitato. Unknowing rental car customers who don't obey the "limited traffic zone" signage can pick up multiple infractions. The ZTL zones are one situation where following the patterns of local travelers can get one in trouble -- limited traffic means that only some vehicles have exceptions (namely local residents, workers, and a person who rented a car within the zone). Inadvertently follow a local into the ZTL and only the non-exempt vehicle is going to receive a fine! 

Just say no to ZTL

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