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A Sensible Splurge

Our car rental choices in Tenerife.


Usually, we don’t buy into the car rental guilt trip. You decline their insurance and they look at you like you’re about to climb Mt. Everest in a t-shirt: reckless.

I booked a rental car for our seven-day Tenerife trip in advance on Expedia for €108.59 ($134.67), which included basic insurance (I would be responsible for a deductible/excess should an accident occur). We picked up our key from the Budget counter near the Tenerife Sur Airport (TFS) for an automatic Hyundai Elantra. (In Europe, the majority of the cars are manual, something I do not recommend taking a stab at for the first time just because it’s cheaper. Even though, I’ll admit, I thought about it for half a second.)

Initially, I declined additional coverage because I have a chip on my shoulder and I hate being had. (See paragraph 1.) We even made it out to the car about to pull away before I ran back in and signed up for more insurance - specifically Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) at €17/day and Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) at €2/day (See Insurance options and what coverage you’re paying for below). I did so for a handful of reasons:

  1. On the Safe Side. American born and bred, I’m used to driving on the right side of the road. At this time, I had been living in Ireland for about three months, where they drive on the left. Given my propensity to confuse my right from left, I didn’t want to be reckless.

  2. Island Driving. Sure, there are highways, but narrow two-ways and winding roads are the norm on most of the paths to the best spots. I wasn’t used to the thoroughfares and neither were the countless UK tourists who were akin to driving on the left.

  3. Cautionary Tale. At the car rental counter, I overheard a teller’s phone conversation with a man who had just been charged in excess of €1,000 because of some minimal damage to his rental car. He was now back in his home country trying - and failing - to convince them he was not responsible for the damage. I didn’t want our experience to be tainted in any way.

  4. Peace of mind. I’ll admit, driving off the lot knowing I had supplemental coverage was such a relief and made the experience a lot less stressful. I was careful with a sprinkle of carefree. It paid off. As I attempted to parallel park on the side of a narrow, steep street near Benijo beach, I scraped the bottom of the front bumper on a high curb. It even popped out a little bit, but not for long. Thank God for hips (and insurance).


*For a thorough breakdown of car rental insurance coverage options, we found this article helpful: Things to Consider When Renting a Car - National Association of Insurance Commissioners

# Some car insurance companies already provide a version of this coverage in your policy for the car you own at home and subsequently a car you rent, but that may not apply to renting internationally. Additionally, various credit card companies provide coverage if you rent the car on said card. That can apply internationally even, but there are exclusions and exceptions. Check with your car insurance provider in your home country and credit card company to verify this well before you get to the rental counter. **

**For tips applying to US drivers renting domestically, check out these articles we found: Should You Take the Car Rental Insurance - Consumer Reports; Why You Probably Don’t Need Rental Car Insurance - The Simple Dollar

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