How To Rent A Car In Ireland And Why You Need Insurance

The romanticized Irish road trip feels like something you should do when you visit Ireland, right? You want to drive the ring road. Driving the Wild Atlantic Way, the Ring of Kerry and seeing Ireland on your own terms sounds like a great idea.

Making this happen requires you to rent a car in Ireland though.

Sounds easy enough. Book a car online at your favorite site and you’re done, right? Wrong. Unlike most European nations, there is so much more to renting a car in Ireland.

Rent A Car In Ireland

Booking A Rental Car In Ireland

If you plan to drive, all trips to Ireland start with the rental car search. First, you visit a site like TripAdvisor or You are given a number of options:

  • Manual or automatic
  • Size
  • Unlimited Miles
  • Air conditioning
  • GPS Navigation systems
  • Baby seats

You find the car you think you want, grab the best price and start clicking through pages of agreements. Read those agreements very carefully. The information is worth reading when you rent a car in Ireland. But wait, what size car did you decide on?

Rent A Car In Ireland

What Size Car Do You Rent In Ireland

This is a very important question. It’s important to know that the size of the roads in Ireland are small, especially those tiny (gorgeous) ones you want to take. While we would all love a big SUV to comfortably road trip around Ireland, The Ring of Kerry is not a three-lane highway. You will be passing tour buses.

I was in a standard car (4-doors with a trunk) and I barely squeaked by some cars without having to pull in the side mirrors. In Ireland, bigger is not better. Rent the smallest car you can safety fit into so you are comfortable driving on the roads.

Rent A Car In Ireland

Extra Car Insurance When Renting A Car In Ireland

Yes, buy the extra insurance when renting a car in Ireland. In fact, you have to have it. No rental car company in Ireland will let you take a car without additional coverage.

Call your credit card company. Chances are, they will not cover your rental in Ireland. Your personal auto insurance won’t either.

The Republic of Ireland is one of the few countries in the world that most credit cards and personal auto companies just won’t cover. Your travel insurance may not cover you either.

Do not wait until you get to the airport to buy insurance. This could cost you up to an additional 700 dollars (US). If you are booking through companies like or, you can buy additional insurance through a 3rd party vendor.

However, call the insurance company BEFORE you buy to make sure they cover the Republic of Ireland. Not all insurance being offered will cover you in Ireland.

I bought insurance through the Irish rental car company and still called them when in Dublin just to double check I was covered. It never occurred to me that a company would sell me a policy that wouldn’t work in the destination I visiting.

If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to ask the insurance company for refund.

Rent A Car In Ireland

Get a GPS to drive in Ireland

We all love our Google Maps, but in Ireland, it isn’t always the best option. First of all, you will kill your data plan.

Save it for all of your social media uploads, and invest in a portable GPS for your trip.

The little lady in your GPS navigation system may even bring you down some tiny roads Google never would have shown you. I swear we went down more tractor roads than even the locals knew about because our GPS decided it was the faster route.

Check for the best rental car prices

Rent A Car In Ireland

Rules of driving in Ireland

Every country has its own quirks when it comes to the rules of the road. Renting a car in Ireland and driving down the highways and local village roads is no different.

  • Drive on the left
  • The left lane is the “slow lane” on the highway (pass on the right)
  • There are roundabouts on the highways
  • Tour buses get the right of way. Always. If it is bigger than you, figure out how to pull over safely and just stay put until you can pass.
  • Drive during the day; it’s dark out there!
  • A tight white dashed line means it is a two way traffic street
  • Sheep have the right of way.. especially when they are blocking the road. Have patience.
  • Traffic cameras are everywhere. If your GPS tells you one is coming up, do not ignore it.
  • Toll roads do exist. Have small change on hand whenever possible.

Ireland (Dublin) Destination Guide

Dublin Hotels

  • Dublin Skylon Hotel: A family run hotel situated near many Dublin landmarks. Hotel features free Wi-Fi, paid parking, and a bar/lounge.
  • The Mayson: Beautiful hotel with pool, free Wi-Fi, and bar/lounge.
  • The Croke Park: An unforgettable experience. The Croke Park is nestled close to Dublin center and features conference facilities, free parking, and Wi-Fi.

Looking for more? Search for the best Dublin hotel on

Dublin Airbnbs

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15 thoughts on “How To Rent A Car In Ireland And Why You Need Insurance”

  1. Great info! These are very helpful tips when visiting Ireland with the whole family.

  2. Mom

    Budget Car Rental covers it in their rental price. Double check with them, but we were informed at the counter in Dublin that we had wasted our money by getting car insurance through Expedia.

  3. Kris

    Yes, car insurance purchased through Expedia and Travelocity is not “viable” in Ireland. We had to fork out another 700 Euros for our two week stay.

  4. Edward Wesley

    Useful post for the road trip in Ireland. The rental car is very beneficial for the road trip. Thanks!

    1. mark b

      What do you mean – Expedia/Travelocity insurance, Travel Guard/AIG, is not “viable” in Ireland? Expedia sells a travel partner’s zero deductible CDW and it isn’t accepted? What rental company? You printed the policy info and cards and they did not accept?

      1. You REALLY have to double check and CALL the insurance company that Expedia is selling to make sure Ireland is covered. Although Expedia sells it, that doesn’t mean Ireland is covered. Expedia and other OTAs blanket their rental cars and don’t always flag which countries you are renting in. It’s better to be safe than sorry and pay for two plans, one of which won’t do anything for you. My parents learned that the hard way.

  5. Matt

    Many US-based cards do cover Irish rentals now, unlike several years ago. As Keryn says, check with your card company and, if they do, get them to send/email you a letter confirming coverage. You’ll probably need it as proof for the rental company.

    Check all the fine-print on your rate quotes before you book. Many rental agencies in Ireland will allow you to waive coverage if your credit card covers it and you bring written proof, although they may charge you a silly fee to “verify” coverage.

    On the other hand, many rates (more often found on the companies’ European portals) include some form of CDW/LDW for a reasonable price, but then there can be high deductibles and exclusions which mostly make it moot.

    Personally, I use my credit card insurance and book cars without coverage. I get better coverage at a cheaper price, at the expense of a few minutes of checking the fine print and dodging a hard sell at the counter. Paperwork doesn’t bother me.

  6. Rich Lau

    I just checked, and my Platinum Delta Skymiles AmEx does not excluded Ireland (only NZ, Australia, and Italy). I’m gonna all my card concierge and confirm this, and have them talk me thru my benefits. Also, I’m gonna make sure the extra Personal Accident Ins might not be worth the 5.50 Euro per day.

  7. Ursula

    I just rented a car in Ireland through Budget for $117 for the week through Priceline. Priceline offered insurance for $11 a day . However when I got to Budget they told me that was through a third-party and I ended up paying €52 a day for insurance .. The insurance was more than the car rental.. my budget for my car rental was €200 and the total for my rental for seven days was over €500 .. in that price was also a €90 diesel fee, which I got back after bringing the car back full of diesel .

  8. Joan Dean

    I really agree with you that booking a car in Ireland is not easy with all the insurance thing and other monetary stuff. But luckily, I landed on finding Dooley car rentals who offer car hire services across all major cities in Ireland. The booking was easy and all the insurances were properly explained to us including the CWD. This insurance is very crucial and I took it as being a family guy, I didn’t want any unexpected problem to come up in the trip.

    Driving through the Atlantic Way is just crazy with all the fresh air refreshing our lungs. Driving was initially tricky as I barely had any experience for driving to the left. But once I got the hang of it, driving was a bliss. We halted in many places to take pictures, which is only possible when you hire a personal car. We took a standard car which was comfortable enough for our family. Big cars don’t work for Ireland roads as roads suddenly get narrower. But overall, it was amazing driving the car. Thanks to Dooley car rentals!

  9. Mark

    CITICARD World Elite and Discover Miles cards used to cover Ireland (up to $50,000) BUT recently (Sep 2019) both stopped insurance coverage completely. Always have insurance before you get to the rental car pickup…. insurance is their bread and butter in Ireland, not renting cars!

  10. Shira Thomus

    It is such a beautiful article. Thanks for all the information as it would help a novice know the country better. I am looking to travel to Ireland and all the information given here about the roads, car rental and the type of car to hire has helped me a lot in planning the trip. After much research, I opted for Dooley car rentals, and I hope I have a good experience with them. Many thanks for the information about extended insurance service.

    1. We used Dooley and enjoyed the experience. It was like any other car rental agency.

  11. leah

    My Chase Visa credit card covers car rentals in Ireland (and lots of other countries) and I have no need for additional insurance. When traveling to Ireland, we have them make up a letter saying so before we leave and present it at the rental counter when picking up the car. Easy. Just check with your credit card company.

  12. Rowena

    This article and the comments are very helpful. We rented our car through Priceline and collision coverage by Allianz Global. Coverage is anywhere in the world – does anyone here have any experience relating to these companies? Thank you,

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