Excess is still a term that not everyone fully understands, and this shows as according to a survey we conducted, four in ten* don’t know what excess is! Our team put together this guide to help you get a better understanding of excess.

What is the risk?

Excess is the first part of any claim, which car hirers can be liable for if their hire car is damaged or stolen. Excess charges can be more than £2,000, even if it is not the hire car driver’s fault. More than a third (37%) of hire car drivers are unaware that they are liable for the excess.

Rental company excess waivers

Rental companies often sell three excess policies: super damage waiver, super theft waiver, and tyre and windscreen excess. Be aware, these are all separate policies, and for full cover, you’d need to purchase all three. The average combined cost of excess waivers for a week in Malaga this summer is £259**.

Independent car hire excess insurance is usually cheaper and more comprehensive

You can purchase a car hire excess insurance policy from a specialist insurance provider, like us. You can get a week's worth of comprehensive cover for only £33.15***, covering damage, theft, and tyres and windscreen cover. Annual European polices start from £41.99****.

Car rental companies do not have to approve the use of an independent excess policy

This is because, in the event you are liable to pay the excess, the company you bought the car hire excess policy from will refund you, not the rental company.

The excess amount will be held on your credit card

All customers that do not buy the rental company's excess insurance, including those with independent excess insurance, will need to let the rental company hold the excess / or deposit during the rental. Some companies will only accept a credit card deposit, not debit or cash, so it is a good idea to have a spare credit card available with enough credit. When the car is returned undamaged, the deposit is refunded.

Make sure you’re not charged for existing damage on a car

Always check the hire car for damage before it is driven and ensure any damage is recorded on the check-out sheet. Use the ‘iCarhireinsurance’ app, free to all travellers, to record photos taken on pick up, drop off, and in the event of an accident. Learn more about the app here.

What happens if you claim

With a standalone excess insurance policy, drivers pay the excess charges and then submit a claim for reimbursement to their insurer.

The majority of people will hire a car without anything going wrong, but when it does, you risk being liable for hundreds, or potentially thousands, so it pays to have excess cover. So be sure to consider purchasing excess insurance from a provider like us, which is usually a much more cost-effective option than what's on offer at the rental desk.

* Opinium online survey with 1,000 adults who have hired a car in the UK or abroad took place between 6 – 12 April 2023.
** An iCarhireinsurance.com study compared the cost of a medium rental car, e.g., a VW Golf or Ford Focus, for a week from 29 July to 5 August 2023 booking in May 2023 in Malaga with six rental companies’ (Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Europcar).
*** £33.15 based on a 30-year-old UK resident buying an 8-day single trip car hire excess policy from iCarhireinsurance.com for use in Europe.
**** £41.99 annual price is based on a UK resident aged between 30-80 purchasing an excess Europe annual policy excluding in-country cover.

Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.