Don’t get hit by hire car excess insurance charges
Our guide explains why you might need car hire excess insurance, and how to get the best deal for you so you can hit the road with confidence – wherever you are in the world
Taking out car hire excess insurance can help you to avoid a huge bill if you’re involved in an accident in a rented vehicle, but it can be a tricky area. Prices can vary from just a few pounds a day to more than 10 times that amount if brought direct from a car hire dealer. However, there are ways to avoid paying over the odds and our guide will help you become more informed so you can make the right choice.
What is car hire excess insurance?
For example, if the excess is set at £300, you would have to pay that amount towards the cost of your insurance claim, with the insurer covering the rest.
However, car hire insurance policies work differently. You’ll be given insurance when you hire the car, but the excess is usually set at a much higher amount – and in the case of an accident, you could be liable to pay it.
To avoid a potentially big bill, car hire excess insurance is cover you can take out before hiring the car so you don’t have to pay the excess. It is also sometimes called excess waiver cover.
How does car hire excess insurance work?
Excess insurance allows you to claim back the excess you pay for a claim on your hire car.
Some policies only partially cover the excess charged, while others exclude common issues such as cracked windscreens and broken headlights.
It’s therefore important to check the policy wording carefully before buying, so you know what you are getting.
Car hire excess insurance can be bought in advance as a single trip or annual policy. You may wish to consider an annual policy if you hire cars regularly or are hiring for more than 14 consecutive days.
Do I need to buy additional cover when renting a car?
You don’t have to by law, a rental car should come with third-party car insurance as standard and a damage waiver – effectively covering any damage to the car you’re using at the time.
But unless you have car hire excess insurance, you will still need to pay the stipulated excess in the case of any damage. So, excess insurance could save you a lot of money.
However, the cover can also be expensive – particularly if you buy direct from the car hire provider – so weigh up the costs and risks involved.
If you haven’t bought car hire excess insurance before your trip, find out how much excess you’ll be liable to pay in the event of an accident before making your decision.
What are the benefits of buying car hire excess insurance?
It can save you money if you have an accident and provide peace of mind when you hire a car that you won’t be ripped off when you return it.
Where can I buy car hire excess cover?
Car hire companies often offer their own excess waiver or collision-loss-damage waiver insurance.
In fact, they are likely to encourage you to take out cover of this kind when you go to pick up your car.
But taking out car hire excess insurance this way can add hundreds of pounds to your bill. Many firms charge up to £25 a day, so you could easily end up shelling out an extra £350 on a two-week trip.
However, not having the excess insurance could prove even more expensive should you be involved in an accident.
Buying a standalone car hire excess insurance policy from a specialist insurer before you hire your car could be a cheaper option.
You can choose between an annual policy that covers you whenever and wherever you hire a car or single trip cover that costs from just a few pounds a day.
As well as competitively-priced premiums, standalone cover of this kind may have fewer exclusions and offer more comprehensive cover than a policy bought from a car rental firm.
Should I buy annual or single-trip cover?
If you plan to hire a car more than once during the year, it usually works out cheaper to buy an annual policy, instead of arranging cover for each trip.
Prices for both will depend on where in the world you are travelling, while the cost of single-trip insurance will also depend on how long you are away.
If you are going for an annual policy, try to find one that also covers car rental in the UK, just in case you ever need to rent a vehicle in this country.
Will my travel insurance cover car hire?
Generally no, but your travel insurance provider may offer the option to buy car hire excess insurance as an add-on to your policy.
What should I look for when taking out car hire excess insurance?
Car hire excess insurance is not compulsory, and you should not be pressured into buying from the car hire company while you are at the counter. Telling the clerk you have your own cover should bring the sales pitch to a swift end.
When buying your standalone cover, look for a policy that covers damage to headlights, windscreens and tyres, as well as bodywork and engine parts.
You should also choose one that protects your entire excess, rather than just a portion of it.
And if you’re taking out standalone car hire excess insurance for an overseas trip, check that the places you are planning to visit are included on the list of destinations covered by the policy – especially if they are off the beaten track.
You’ll have a choice of European or Worldwide cover – check for any restrictions.
Tips to get cheaper car hire excess cover
Some of the things to think about for cheaper car hire excess insurance include:
Plan early. Don’t leave it until you are at the car hire desk to make a decision
Buy annual cover. If you frequently hire cars then buying an annual multi-trip policy is going to work out more cost-effective
Shop around for the cheapest deal. Then approach your travel insurance provider to see if they can match it
But remember to check the terms and conditions of any policy. The car hire excess insurance needs to cover the cost of the damage to the car in the country the accident happens.
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