Car hire companies are bombarding customers with insurance jargon leaving them confused and at risk of losing up to £2000 if they damage their hire car or it's stolen. Hiring a car in Faro, for half term week (22 – 29 October), costs as little as £102 with Sixt, but the rental company’s excess waiver policy is £142 and worryingly, according to a new YouGov survey, many car hirers are unsure about what insurance they do and don’t need.

The survey reveals that 23% of UK people who have hired a car have driven without understanding what insurance they had and what they were and were not covered for; and almost one in five (18%) said they were confused by the amount of jargon car hire companies used to explain their insurance options.

The survey commissioned by specialist insurance provider,, which sells car hire excess insurance products at around 85%* cheaper than the car rental companies, also found that almost half (45%) of car hirers were not aware that if anything happens to their hire car, even if it's not their fault, that they are liable for the excess costs, which could be up to £2,000.

Rental companies now charge around £20 a day* for excess / waiver insurance which protects customers from the 'excess' amount in the event of a claim - this is over seven times more expensive, however, than a week's policy from (from £2.99 a day).

The survey also found that over half (54%) of car hirers were unaware that if they purchased excess insurance from the rental company that the policy may exclude tyre and windscreen damage, which is often then offered as a separate, additional policy, usually costing around £30** according to's 15 country study of car hire costs this summer. This level of protection is already included in an policy.

There's a big problem of transparency in the car hire industry at the present time, which the CMA is trying to clamp down on, as it's hard for travellers to make informed choices when rental companies don't promote the price of an excess waiver policy until a customer reaches the rental desk, said Ernesto Suarez, CEO and founder of

Do your research before you travel and buy a stand-alone car hire excess insurance policy from an independent, authorised and regulated company rather than buying an expensive (and often unregulated) excess waiver from the rental company which may have more holes in it than your inflatable lilo.

* Figures comes from's 15 country study into car hire costs, based on a week's car hire of a medium sized car from 30 July to 6 Aug 2016. The cost of the most expensive car hire excess waiver / insurance charged by the rental companies (NB. five car hire companies were surveyed) in each country came to an average across all destinations of £160 a week (or £22 a day).

For example:

  • Sixt in Faro charges £171 for a week's excess waiver policy
  • • Hertz in Malaga charges £197 for a week's excess waiver policy
  • Hertz in Barcelona charges £217 for a week's excess waiver policy
  • Sixt in Dublin charges £171 for a week's excess waiver policy
  • Europcar in Milan charges £222 for a week's excess waiver policy charges £23.92 for a week's European car hire excess insurance (at £2.99 a day x 8) or £37.99 for an annual European policy. This makes an policy 86% cheaper than the rental companies' policies, using the £160 average weekly cost charged by the rental companies.

** The average cost of a tyres and windscreen excess policy charged by the rental car companies across the 15 country study this summer was £27.

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.