Nearly a third (30%) of car hirers are not aware that they could be liable for up to £2,000 if their hire car is damaged or stolen, even if it is not their fault, according to new research from Opinium, commissioned by

Many travellers continue to be unaware, until they pick up their hire car, that they will have to pay for the first part of any claim, unless they take out excess waiver insurance from the rental company or a specialist insurance company. Buying it from the rental company, which 42% do says the survey, is usually much more expensive than buying it from a specialist provider e.g., a super damage waiver policy in Faro for a medium, compact hire car for a week this August costs £225 from Avis or £156 from Sixt, compared to £27.96 from

Three in ten (28%) car hirers chance paying the excess amount by not buying an excess waiver policy, with 19%, for example, saying one is too expensive, 16% saying it is a waste of money, 11% believing it is unlikely their car will get damaged or stolen, 9% confident in their driving ability and 9% saying they would ‘wing it’. Analysis of’s claims data*, however, reveals that a third (33%) of all its claims were not the claimant’s fault.

Also, looking at the average prices of claims, it found that for window damage, the average price charged by rental companies is £403, with the highest single claim £1,733; damage to a hire car’s undercarriage cost on average £688 to fix, with the highest claim £6,027; and damage to tyres cost on average £224 to repair, with the highest single claim £1,675.

Of the 59% of car hirers who bought excess insurance, 42% bought from the rental company (23% bought when booking and 19% from the rental desk), but only 17% from an independent provider. Perhaps this is because 41% believe only excess insurance sold by the rental company is valid, yet 77% think that excess waiver policies from the rental desk are a ‘rip off’.

Almost half (48%) of people have bought an excess policy but are not sure exactly what it covers.

“While it’s good to see that almost everyone who is aware of excess waivers is buying a policy, it’s alarming to see that so many drivers do not understand what they could be liable for, and that so many of those that do know are not shopping around to get the best deal they can,” said Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of “Travellers can save a small fortune buying from a specialist UK insurer before they travel, rather than having no choice but to pay the usually higher prices at the rental desk.”

*, the leading provider of specialist car hire excess insurance, analysed 3,500 claims it received last summer, between June to August 2018. Most of the claims happened in holiday destinations in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and the UK.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium Research. Total sample size was 2000 UK adults that have hired a car. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th -11th April 2019. The survey was carried out online.

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.