What About CDW Insurance?

CDW insurance stands for “Collision Damage Waiver”. In North America, insurance is typically pretty straight forward in the rental car business. I cannot comment on European countries. But in North America, do not be fooled by what your credit card or representative over the phone says. I have done a considerable amount of research and every credit card states they have free car rental insurance if you use their card. To my surprise, this is dependent upon each province in Canada and each state within the United States. I've had a few discussions with known Canadians indicating we are covered. Yet those misfortunate ones that do have an accident on Bonaire have told me nothing but frustrating, time consuming and bad news from North American credit card Companies.

1) Remember in Bonaire, you are renting a truck; most credit cards don’t cover truck rentals. Now you can get an exception for smaller style/size/weight of trucks, so you think you are ok.

2) Remember you are on a Caribbean island. If you check the small print, each credit card lists all the countries and cities where rental companies are found. I haven’t found Bonaire listed yet, but if you talk with a customer service representative, some will say “it must be, don’t worry”. So now you have a verbal comment from "Joe" over the phone; lucky for you. If it’s not in writing, it’s not valid.

3) Vandalism in North America must show forced entry. In Bonaire, for CDW insurance, you have to leave the windows and doors open at the dive sites. If the vandal breaks the window for entry, you are not covered; due to the known petty theft at all dive sites. Bottom line; if it doesn't go in the water with you, don’t bring it to the dive site.

4) Bonaire is a municipality of Holland. Even if you win your case and you were in fact covered by your North American credit card, expect 4 – 6 months to clear up the paperwork. In the meantime your credit card is charged or you don’t leave the island. It’s pretty simple; it’s not North America; do not expect those rules to apply in any form or fashion.

5) Accidents, health costs, etc. are your responsibility; whether you are covered or you think you are covered. It’s not fair to argue with the Bonerians, it’s the credit card company that refuses to do business with Bonaire. Again, you would expect same service as North America, but you are not in North America.

6) A considerable amount of vehicles on Bonaire are illegally driven; meaning no registration, insurance or drivers license. It’s easy to do on Bonaire. They are making it more difficult, but do not assume the other person has insurance. Even in North America, the insurance companies admit there are many uninsured vehicles.

7) What we do know about "Bonaire Rental Companies"; and in all fairness, we have rented from them all:
a) Caribe Car Rentals is locally owned
b) Budget is not the budget we know
c) AB Car Rental is Amsterdam-Bonaire

We once had 2 tires stolen off our truck during a dive at O'blue. After dealing with the Bonaire police, which were very helpful, we were given a police report on a hand-written paper so we could collect our deductible from our credit card/insurance company in Canada. It wasn't worth the paper it was written on in Canada, according to our rules.

Keep it simple, rent local and get the CDW for peace of mind, it’s your holiday!