Car hire insurance in the USA and Canada is different to Europe, and also varies from state to state, so it is important to know what insurance is included, what you already have, and what you need.
Research by iCarhireinsurance.com, leading provider of standalone car hire insurance to UK travellers renting in the USA and Canada, found that a week’s hire in Florida* varied from £160 with Sixt, to £310 with Enterprise. Extra drivers were £47 with Avis and £108 with Enterprise, Sat Navs were £56 with Enterprise, and £99 with Europcar, and car seats were £42 with Sixt and £71 with Hertz. These price differences could significantly increase the final cost of the hire car. However, the extra cost which can make the most difference to the final price is insurance, which varies depending on the company and the location.
iCarhireinsurance.com has compiled a handy five-point check list for car hirers in the USA:
Four Types of Car Hire Insurance for Reference:
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – provides cover in the event of a collision or damage
Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) – provides cover in the event of theft or loss of use
Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) – provides cover for damage to a third party’s property or person (injury)
Deductible – This is the amount that a policy holder has to pay before the insurance company will pay out. It operates like an excess.
Firstly, check if the rental car’s paperwork covers ‘Collision Damage Waiver’? If not, this can be bought from the rental desk for around $20 per day, or independently from iCarhireinsurance.com for £5.99 per day.
Secondly, check if the rental agreement covers ‘theft’, i.e., if the vehicle is stolen? Sometimes the damage waiver will include theft, and sometimes two separate policies will be needed. (An iCarhireinsurance.com USA & Canada policy covers both damage and theft for £5.99 a day).
Thirdly, check if the rental agreement covers damage to third party property caused by the renter, e.g., if the rental vehicle crashes into another car, and it’s the hirer’s fault? The amount of cover is often low and, again, will vary from state by state, depending on the statutory limits.
Check with your rental company the limits that already apply, and consider a ‘top-up’ insurance, called Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) which can be bought from the rental company. Renters should check their travel insurance first as this is sometimes covered. SLI is not provided by iCarhireinsurance.com.
Fourthly, check if the hirer is covered for causing injury to other people i.e., third party injury, which is similar to third party property? There will be statutory limits applied to the rental vehicle, but these are usually low, particularly given the high compensation settlements awarded by US courts. Again, check with the rental company and ask about Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI), but do find out first if cover is already provided by other policies, e.g., travel insurance?
Fifthly, find out what the excess amount is, known in the USA as a deductible. There is likely to be a deductible charged for damage or theft of the rental vehicle, and possibly for third party damage too. There is unlikely to be a deductible for a third party injury, but it’s worth checking with the rental company as this can vary by company and by state.
An iCarhireinsurance.com policy, from £5.99 a day, takes the excess amount (or deductible) to zero and covers damage to the rental vehicle up to $100,000, including vulnerable parts, i.e., the tyres, windscreen and undercarriage, which are often not covered with the standard rental company insurance. It also covers theft of the car and incidents including if the hirer is locked out of the car, misfuelling or car-jacking.