When hiring a car it is easy to assume that full insurance cover is included in the price and that, in the event of an accident, you will have no financial liability to pay. This is seldom the case, however, so it is essential to check what is and what is not included when you book your hire as this varies between car hire firms.
When you arrange to book a hire car, the minimum level of insurance cover that you should be provided with is that which complies with the legislative requirements in the country in which you will be driving. In the UK this level is third party only cover which provides cover for any injuries or damage that you cause to other parties or their property.
You may not be provided with cover for any damage you cause to the hire car, or if you are, you may be responsible for a significant proportion of any claim, usually thousands of pounds. Many hire companies, therefore, offer what is known as a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). If you agree to pay an additional sum then the amount that you will be liable for in the case of damage to the hire car will be limited to a much lower figure, typically in the region of £500.
Even if you opt to take out a Collision Damage Waiver there are circumstances when it may not provide cover, for example, if you intentionally cause damage or drive off road. Damage to tyres, windscreens, locks and the under carriage are often also excluded.
The terms and conditions of the hire contract may also make you responsible for the vehicle in the event that it is stolen. Again, an excess running into thousands of pounds may be payable. Theft Waiver (TW) cover is often available to provide protection against this. As with the Collision Damage Waiver, you will be required to pay an additional amount to bring this excess down to a more manageable amount.
Many car hire firms include Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Waiver cover as part of their standard terms of business because otherwise there is a risk that they may not be able to recover the cost of repairs or total loss of a vehicle in the event of a serious accident. As a hirer, however, the excess that you are still responsible can seem high.
As a result it is often possible to pay for a "top up" excess policy that will bring your excess down to nil in the event of an accident. These are often available directly from the hire car company. Alternatively, there is a burgeoning online excess insurance market that allows you to pre-buy cover before picking up your hire car.
When it comes to arranging car hire
it is of vital importance that you make sure you understand what insurance cover you are being provided with. Failure to do so could mean that you receive a bill for an unexpected amount if the vehicle you hire is stolen or damaged