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

 In Europe, Travel Tips

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 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. Its 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 (Expedia owns Travelocity), 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. 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.

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
  • 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.

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HOW TO RENT A CAR IN IRELAND: Renting a car in Europe is one thing, but renting a car in Ireland comes with a different set of rules and rental car insurance requirements that you need to know before you buy and sign your rental agreement. #ireland #irishvacation #europe #familytravel
DRIVING IN IRELAND: Do you need extra car insurance when you rent a car Ireland- we break down everything you need to know when going on a trip to Ireland with kids. #ireland #travelwithkids #europe #rentalcar
Renting a Car in Ireland: Navigating the ins and outs of renting a car and buying the extra insurance you DO need when you rent a car on the Emerald Isle of Ireland. #ireland #rentalcar #europe #europeanvacation
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Showing 5 comments
  • Flyingkids

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Edward Wesley

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

  • 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.

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