Orbitz Selling CDW

CHICAGO -- Orbitz's car rental partners have a new competitor in collision damage waiver sales -- Orbitz itself. The travel Web site, owned by five major airlines, has begun selling a damage waiver product through a master policy with BCS Insurance Co.

Some car rental partners have expressed concern that customers might purchase Orbitz's protection without being aware of the wider range of options available at the car rental counter. Moreover, there's potential for customer confusion, since Orbitz offers just one option -- and that has a coverage limit.

"Our biggest concerns are that our customers get a coverage product that fits their needs, and that they get all the information on the different coverage options available," said Susan McGowan, public relations manager for Cendant Car Rental Group, which operates Avis and Budget. The Orbitz product carries a lower daily price tag, McGowan noted, but also comes with a $25,000 coverage limit. Avis, for example, offers CDW options with no coverage ceiling.

Gary MacDonald, president of Midway Car Rental in Los Angeles, also pointed out that, unlike products sold at rental counters, Orbitz’s coverage is the same for all 50 states and doesn't take into account different state regulations and laws. Midway's major worry, he said, was that customers would purchase the Orbitz product assuming that coverage was complete and without a cap.

Kendra Thornton, media relations manager for Orbitz, however, said the company works with each state's insurance department to "ensure that everything is being covered appropriately."

"The program has gone very well, and we are really pleased with it," Thornton said. "We have thousands of travelers a month that are electing to have the coverage."

The coverage costs $9 per day, with a two-day minimum.

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