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Thursday, 04 December 2014 00:00

How To Avoid Overpaying For Car Hire Insurance At The Car Hire Desk

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Car Rental Tips AdviceClick on the image above to download the guide in PDF.

When you pick up your holiday vehicle, the staff at the car hire desk will normally try and sell you a number of extras, including car hire excess insurance. However, paying for excess insurance at the car hire desk is usually a lot more expensive than paying for it before you travel.

This useful guide will explain the basics of car hire insurance, what excess cover you can buy before you travel, and how it compares to the additional cover you’ll be offered at the car hire desk.

The Collision Damage Waiver

A Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is probably what you think of as car hire insurance because it protects you financially against damage or loss to your hire car. When you hire a car in Europe, the majority of car hire companies will provide CDW cover as well as third party insurance as standard.

This means that if you are involved in a car hire incident resulting in damage to or theft of the vehicle, the full cost of the vehicle would be covered minus any voluntary/compulsory excess you may be liable for. However, you’ll find that the majority of car hire companies will charge an excess should the vehicle become damaged or stolen. This amount can range from £500-£2,500.

Buy Car Hire Excess Insurance Before You Travel

The high excess fee set by many car hire companies gives them the opportunity to sell their Excess Waiver Insurance (EWI) as an extra that either reduces of removes the excess.

Many car hire companies make it difficult for holidaymakers to find out the cost of this waiver at the time they make their booking. This way, they have a better opportunity to sell you expensive EWI cover when you pick up your vehicle. Some car hire companies charge as much as £25 per day for excess insurance, which over the course of a seven day holiday can soon add up.

However, if you buy car hire excess insurance from before you travel, you can save over 70% on those prices. Not only that, but the cover sold by is usually more comprehensive than those sold by car hire companies.

Resist The Car Hire Desk Sales Patter

Sometimes, less reputable companies may try to tell you that the excess insurance policy you bought before travelling is “invalid”. But remember, it is not a policy that insures the rental company; it is a policy that insures the renter for excess charges incurred from the rental company. This is because it is actually a personal indemnity against car hire excess insurance charges and the rental company is not party to the contract.

What is different is the need to leave a deposit. When you use a stand-alone car hire excess insurance policy you will usually be required to leave a security deposit with the rental company usually up to the total value of the excess. Most rental companies will hold this as a pre-authorised amount on a credit card, so it’s important to make sure that you have that money available on your card when you collect the vehicle. If the car is damaged or stolen when it is in your possession the rental company will withhold some or all of your deposit and you will then submit a claim to recover that amount.

What a Car Hire Insurance Cover Policy With Covers

The car hire excess insurance sold by is much more comprehensive than the cover sold by most car hire companies. As such, if you buy an policy, you will be able to refuse other forms of commonly sold additional insurance – such as cover for the roof, undercarriage, windows and tyres.

The table below is a summary of information taken from our full policy documents, outlining what an insurance policy covers and which rental desk products they are designed to replace.


Europe – From £3.99 per day or £45.99 per annum


Worldwide:From £4.99 per day or £59.99 per annum


Number of trips/days covered

Daily policies are valid for up to 31 continuous days car hire. Annual policies are valid for up to 65 continuous days for any one hire.


What is covered?

The total amount of excess for which you are liable if the car is damaged or stolen, plus damage to the roof, undercarriage, windows and tyres. £6,000 worth of cover for any single incident or £6,000 for a series of incidents during a single trip.


Additional Cover

Lock out – Up to a maximum of £100 for costs incurred if you’re unintentionally locked out of the car, as long as you use an approved locksmith.


Road rageUp to £1,000 if you suffer a physical assault by another person that results in injury, as a result of an accident.


CarjackingUp to £1,000 if you suffer a physical assault by another person that results in an injury, as a result of a theft or attempted theft of your hire car.


Hotel expensesUp to £150 if you have to pay for overnight accommodation if you are unable to use your hire car due to theft or accident damage


Travel expenses – Up to £50 per day for travel expenses incurred following loss of use of your hire car.


Restitution – Up to £25 per day if your Vehicle Rental agreement is cancelled on medical advice. Maximum payment for a single claim: £300. Maximum payment per policy period: £500.


Drop off – Up to £300 for drop-off charges incurred as a result of you being unable to return the rental vehicle due to an accident or illness where you're hospitalised.



The rental of any vehicles where the value of the vehicle exceeds £100,000, or vehicles which are more than 20 years old.


The rental of vehicles not licensed for road use include trailers or caravans, campervans, commercial vehicles, vans or loan vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, motorbikes, off-road vehicles, recreational vehicles, motor homes, passenger vans and vehicles with more than 9 seats. However, you can purchase cover for vans and campervans by buying van cover or a campervan upgrade.


Losses caused from driving whilst not on a public highway, or while taking part in racing competitions, rallying or speed testing.



Top Tips

  1. Buy car hire excess insurance before you travel – If you buy your car hire excess insurance at the car hire desk, you will almost always overpay. However, if you buy the cover you need form before you travel, you can save more than 70%.
  2.'s cover is cheap and comprehensive – Not only is's car hire insurance cheaper, but it's also usually more comprehensive than the cover provided by most car hire companies. Vulnerable areas such as the windscreen, wheels, tyres and undercarriage are therefore covered as standard.
  3. Turn down insurance extras at the car hire desk – Car hire companies make a large portion of their profit by selling extras. As such, many use aggressive sales patter to try and convince you their extras are of value to you. If you buy one of'scar hire insurance products, it’s often the case that you won't need to buy additional cover at the rental desk.
  4. Don't forget to make funds available on your credit card – The car hire insurance products sold by are reimbursement products. As such, your car hire company will usually require you to 'pre-authorise' the set excess on your credit card. However, if you do have to make a claim, with's insurance in place, you will be reimbursed the full amount*.

*Up to the sum insured limit. Please refer to our policy wording the further information.

Please note that this guide provides information that is specific to excess insurance only. If you are travelling to USA or Canada, you will need to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver (CDW/LDW) to protect you against damage, theft or loss to your hire car. For more information about CDW/LDW cover, click here.

Last modified on Monday, 26 October 2015 11:48
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Quick Buys

Excess EuropeExess Europe
Full Excess Protection
Excess WorldwideExess Europe
Full Excess Protection
USA and CanadaExcess Europe
Excess, CDW/LDW
Worldwide PlusExess Europe
Excess, CDW/LDW


All prices within this section were correct at time of publication.