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How to rent a car in Italy

Italy’s countryside and coastlines are both high on many travelers’ bucket lists for good reason. Amazing vistas, rolling vineyards, off-the-beaten track restaurants, and idyllic countryside charm are all plentiful across Sardinia, Sicily, Puglia, and many more Italian destinations. But if you are planning a trip that ventures to these areas outside Italy’s big city centers, a car will probably be necessary to make the most of your trip.

The good news is that rental cars are available all over Italy, and renting a car in Italy is relatively easy if you’re traveling from the United States. However, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind regarding car rental safety, car rental insurance, and following the rules of the road in Italy. Read on to find out all you need to know about how to rent a car in Italy.

Is it a good idea to rent a car in Italy?

Renting a car in Italy certainly isn’t required to have a good trip — especially if you’re visiting major cities such as Rome, Milan, Florence, or Venice. But if you want to cover a lot of ground, have flexibility and freedom in your itinerary, and travel at your own pace to off the beaten track destinations, a rental car will be essential for your trip.

Car rental companies operate all over Italy, but that doesn’t mean they will all offer the same prices or car rental deals. It’s generally cheaper to complete your rental car booking while still in the United States. You may need to do some research ahead of time to compare prices, and keep in mind that car rental locations at the airport tend to have higher rates. If you’re looking for one-way rental — where you pick up the car in one location and drop it off in another — you may also need to pay a little more.

Lastly, if you’re used to driving an automatic car, be aware that you may need to pay extra to rent an automatic car as most rental companies offer manual transmission vehicles as the default.

What do I need to rent a car in Italy as an American?

The good news is that it’s possible to rent a car in Italy with a valid US driver’s license. But that’s not the only documentation you need. In addition to providing your credit card and passport identification, you also need what’s called an International Driver’s Permit.

Keep in mind that while the car rental company may not ask you for this international driving permit in order to rent the car, it’s still required by law and if you’re pulled over by police during your trip you’ll be asked to provide it. It’s possible to get one from a branch of the

(AAA) before you leave for your trip to Italy. The AAA is the only body authorized by the State Department to provide this permit, so it can’t be obtained elsewhere.

Car rental insurance in Italy

When you rent a car in Italy, the rental car company will require you to have what’s called a collision damage waiver (CDW). It’s mandatory to have this insurance, which means your car rental company will not let you take your rental car off the lot if you don’t have it.

You’ll also be required to take out theft insurance. Theft can be a problem with car rentals in Italy — especially in southern Italy and on the Amalfi coast — so even when you have this coverage, try to park in areas where cars are supervised by attendants and don’t leave any valuables in your vehicle.

Your credit card company may provide coverage for both the CDW and theft protection, but don’t assume that’s the case — some credit card companies won’t provide coverage for car rentals in Italy. Find out before you go if you need to take out additional coverage. It’s possible to add car rental insurance to your existing travel insurance policy.

You will be offered insurance through your car rental company, but it can be expensive and may not protect you as completely as you’d like. A battleface travel insurance policy including rental vehicle damage coverage provides protection if the vehicle you’re renting in Italy is damaged in a collision, or if it’s damaged as a result of vandalism, fire, hail, windstorms, or floods. If the rental company won’t accept this coverage and requires you to purchase another rental vehicle damage policy, contact us to obtain a refund. Requests received after the rental return date will require a copy of the rental invoice showing the charges for the additional insurance.

Your travel insurance policy should cover travel medical insurance which would be useful if you have a car accident. You also want benefits such as medical evacuation, baggage loss and delay, trip interruption protection, and trip delay to ensure you’re covered for every eventuality.

Safety tips for driving in Italy

As with in any country, car rentals in Italy come with some elements of risk. Driving in a foreign country on unfamiliar roads with different driving rules from your home country means you need to be particularly vigilant. Keep in mind that roads can be narrower, and Italian drivers less patient.

You also need to make yourself aware of the rules of the road, including different speed limits and road signs. For example, do not drive in areas with signs that say Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL). This translates to “limited traffic zone” and fines are often automated and will be sent to your address or rental car company if your license plate is photographed as you drive through one.

What to do in an emergency

Even if you’re driving as safely as possible and staying within the maximum speed limit, accidents can still happen. In the event of an accident, make sure you know what both your car rental company and your insurance provider require you to do. Once everyone is safe and help has arrived, it’s important to gather all the information required to ensure you can make a valid claim on your insurance. Call battleface’s 24/7 emergency assistance hotline, especially if there are injuries or you need guidance regarding next steps.

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PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION

Pre-Existing Medical Condition means an illness, disease, or other condition during the 180 day period immediately prior to the date Your coverage is effective :
  1. received or received a recommendation for a test, examination, or medical treatment for a condition which first manifested itself, worsened or became acute, or had symptoms which would have prompted a reasonable person to seek diagnosis, care or treatment; or
  2. took or received a prescription for drugs or medicine. Item (2) of this definition does not apply to a condition which is treated or controlled solely through the taking of prescription drugs or medicine and remains treated or controlled without any adjustment or change in the required prescription throughout the 180 day period before coverage is effective under this policy.
  3. required a change in prescribed medication. Change in prescribed medication means the dosage or frequency of a medication has been reduced, increased, stopped and/or new medications have been prescribed due to the worsening of an underlying condition that is being treated with the medication, unless the change is:
    1. between a brand name and a generic medication with comparable dosage; or
    2. an adjustment to insulin or anti-coagulant dosage.
If you, or someone you are traveling with, has a Pre-Existing Medical Condition, you can still buy a policy from us but there is no cover for any claim arising directly or indirectly from that condition.

PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION

Any Medical Condition that, within the last 12 months, required any:

  • surgery, inpatient or outpatient treatment, referrals or investigations of any sort. This includes being on any waiting list, taking any prescription medication, tablets or required medical treatment (This will not apply to common colds, flu or contraceptive medication);
  • medical advice or treatment for any respiratory condition relating to the lungs or breathing;
  • medical advice or treatment for any heart, stroke or diabetic condition;

Hypertension or high cholesterol controlled by 1 prescription drug only and where the dosage has not been changed within the last 12 months will not be considered a pre-existing medical condition

Coverages Available:

*not all coverages are available in all states
Travel Protection Benefits Limits
Trip Cancellation 100% of trip cost (up to a maximum of $20,000)
Single Occupancy Up to trip cost
Cancel for Any Reason Up to 75% of trip cost Up to 50% of trip costs in FL(CFAR not available to NY residents)
Trip Interruption 150% of trip cost
Delay Package
Trip Delay
Maximum $200 per day up to $2,500
Missed Connection Maximum of $1,000 per covered trip
Baggage Package – Excess
Baggage and Personal Effects $2,500 $100 Deductible
Baggage Delay $100 per day up to a maximum of $500
Travel Medical Package – Excess AK, CO, ID, ND, NH – Primary
Travel Medical Expense – Adventure sports included $100,000 $50,000 in NH $50 Deductible
Emergency Dental $750
Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains Up to $500,000
Up to $1,000,000 in NH
Accidental Death & Dismemberment $100,000 or $250,000 or $500,000
Pet Medical Package
Pet Medical Expense Up to $2,000 $100 Deductible
Pet Return Up to $500
Rental Vehicle Damage – Primary Up to $35,000 per rented vehicle- Primary $250 Deductible for loss greater than $2,000
Vacation Rental Damage $1,500 or $3,000 or $5,000

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Cancellation and Curtailment 5,000
Emergency Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains 10,000,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Hospital Benefit 25 per day, maximum 100
Personal Accident up to 250,000
Baggage Loss or Delay up to 5,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to 250 in respect of cash 500 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Liability 500,000
Travel Delay 500
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to 1,000 (excess 100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to 750 (excess 50 or 100)

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Trip Interruption 2,000
Emergency Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains 10,000,000 (excess 250)
Hospital Benefit 25 per day, maximum 100
Personal Accident up to 5,000
Baggage Loss or Delay up to 2,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to 250 in respect of cash 500 (excess 250) *** Limited to 250 in respect of cash
Personal Liability 500,000
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to 1,000 (excess 100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to 750 (excess 50 or 100)
Personal Accident up to 250,000
Baggage up to 10,000

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Cancellation up to $20,000
Trip Interruption $1,000
Medical and Emergency Expenses $5,000,000 (deductible $250)
Hospital Benefit $25 per day, maximum $100
Personal Accident up to $50,000
Baggage $2,000 (deductible $250)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to $250 in respect of cash $500 (deductible $250)
Personal Liability $500,000
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to $1,000 (deductible $100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to $750 (deductible $50 or $100)

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Cancellation and Curtailment 5,000
Emergency Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains 10,000,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Hospital Benefit 25 per day, maximum 100
Personal Accident up to 250,000
Baggage Loss or Delay up to 5,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to 250 in respect of cash 500 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Liability 500,000
Travel Delay 500
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to 1,000 (excess 100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to 750 (excess 50 or 100)