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A Buyer's Guide to Car Hire Excess Insurance

Why do you need car hire excess insurance, and what are the most common features and exclusions? Read our car hire excess insurance guide to find out.

What is car hire excess insurance?

Car hire excess insurance policies are designed to cover you for charges from your car rental company should your hire car be damaged or stolen.

For example, if you are involved in a car accident that results in a £750 repair cost, and your agreed excess was £500, under your car hire agreement you would need to pay a £500 excess to the car rental company. However, if you have taken out car hire excess insurance, you can reclaim additional excess or repair costs covered by your policy.

Do I need car hire excess insurance?

A car rental agreement usually includes some standard motor insurance cover, such as a collision damage waiver (CDW) and third-party liability insurance. However, this standard cover may not protect you fully. Should the car be damaged or stolen, the renter is still nearly always liable for the first portion of the loss (the ‘excess’), and windows, tyres, undercarriage, roof and headlights may not even be covered by the policy.

Therefore, ask yourself:

1. Can I afford to pay a potentially sizeable bill if something goes wrong?

2. Do I find the excess cover offered by car hire firms expensive?

It can make your holiday easier and more relaxing if you have car hire excess insurance. You have less worry over issues such as where to park your car; being on unknown roads; or if any less well-maintained roads will cause damage to the vehicle.

What does car hire excess insurance cover?

If you purchase stand-alone car hire excess insurance in advance of travelling, you can gain a reasonable daily or annual rate and get a policy suited to you to cover trips of varying length.

The key benefit is that car hire excess insurance policies will provide protection for the most vulnerable parts of the vehicle - such as the wheels, tyres, windscreen, roof and undercarriage - which are most likely to get damaged. As stated above, these are not usually included in car rental companies' own cover, even if you purchase additional waivers.

Policies can also cover other potential mishaps, such as loss of the vehicle keys, or accidentally misfuelling the car.

Remember, before leaving the car rental pick-up, always inspect the vehicle carefully and try to take photos. Otherwise, if you have excess insurance rather than their own, there can be a dispute, and it’s crucial to report back any problems they haven't listed to your car hire excess company to insure you will be fully covered on your excess insurance.

Car hire excess insurance exclusions explained

Restrictions sometimes seen on car hire excess insurance policies include:

    • Losses from accidental damage to the interior or contents of the rental vehicle, caused by wear and tear or carriage of animals, will not be covered

    • Minimum and maximum ages for drivers (21-85 inclusive)

    • Vehicles more than 10 years old or vehicles with more than nine seats

Choosing your car hire excess insurance policy

If you take our separate car hire excess insurance, vehicle hire firms will often require a credit card deposit to cover any potential damage. Although you can claim this back from your insurance company if there is an incident and you lose your deposit, you'll need to budget for this. Furthermore, this will usually need to be on the credit card of the lead driver, as many care hire companies do not accept debit cards.

Note that while most vehicle hire companies just ring-fence the deposit, some may withdraw it and refund you later. This means that if there are significant currency fluctuations during your car rental period you could see a different value in the money that is returned to your card.

Our car hire excess insurance

Although car hire companies can offer you excess insurance when you pick up the vehicle, you could end up paying more for cover which isn't as wide ranging.

We aim to deliver high-quality protection through our easy to use car hire excess insurance. Talk to one of our advisers to find out what policy is best for you, so that you can enjoy peace of mind on your travels

Call for a quote on 0344 892 1770 or get an instant quote online

About the author

Adam Summersby, caravan insurance articles author

Adam Summersby is a respected leader with 11 years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including caravan, site operators and excess reimbursement, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.


This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance.

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