Car hire insurance can be a minefield. We’ve all bought expensive insurance we didn’t need from the rental desk or not bothered and regretted it later. The fact of the matter is that you definitely need car hire insurance, but if you’re smart, you’ll get all the cover you need without it costing you a fortune.
In Europe, when you rent a car you’ll get basic cover called LDW or CDW and SLI insurance. Collision Damage Waiver and Loss Damage Waiver will cover you in the event of damage to the vehicle or car theft. Supplemental Liability Insurance is a third party insurance that covers you if you cause an accident resulting in damage and injury to someone else.
Now you need to start checking the small print. That’s because these policies will only cover certain parts of the vehicle and not others such as windows, undercarriage, tyres and roof. The CDW and SLI insurance cover may be too low and leave you exposed to financial risk if the worst happens. And if you hire in some countries including Canada and the US, you won’t be insured at all.
Cover yourself with car hire excess insurance
If your car hire is damaged when you’re using it, you’ll still have to pay an excess. And that figure can run into the thousands depending on the type of vehicle you’ve hired.
Car hire excess insurance can save you a packet when your car rental company decides to charge you for that minor scratch or that wing mirror that went missing. Car hire companies are notorious for charging huge excesses sometimes months after you’ve hired the car, so always cover yourself by documenting every inch of the vehicle and getting your insurance cover sorted out in advance.
What is car hire insurance?
Often known as Super CDW, this insurance reduces the excess you’ll pay to zero if anything goes wrong. That means you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you’re not going to take a financial hit if there’s any damage to your hire car.
How it works
Essentially, you’re paying out a small amount of money to avoid having to pay out a very large amount of money if the worst happens. You’ll pay the first part of the claim then reclaim this amount later from your insurer.
Never buy the insurance offered at the rental desk. Not only will you pay through the nose but you may not get the level of cover you’ll get from a standalone policy. A small amount of effort before you travel can save you a great deal of money and heartache at a later stage. Don’t fall prey to the pushy sales patter when you’re tired and just want to get to your destination. Sort out your policy beforehand and stand your ground if the rental company refuses to accept it.
However, be prepared to pay with a credit card with a large enough credit limit. Many hire firms will charge you a deposit in advance for the excess if you use your own standalone insurance.
Get the cover you need
If you’re offered top-up insurance for windows, tyres, undercarriage and roof, just say no. These vulnerable areas of your hire car will all be covered by your car hire excess insurance so you can drive with the confidence of knowing that you won’t get hit with a massive bill when that loose chipping hits the windscreen.
In selecting your policy, do ensure that it includes other extras such as cover for lost keys.
Car hire excess insurance is available for daily or annual cover. If you’re a frequent traveller or are going on a longer trip, you’ll make a significant saving over a daily insurance policy. Whichever cover is right for you, always buy in advance for the best cover at the best prices and enjoy your trip!