When we hire a car in Europe we always take out our own independent excess insurance which gives us that added peace of mind if the car gets damaged, stolen or we have an accident.

When you collect your rental car, the rental company often tries to persuade you to purchase their CDW (Collision, Damage Waver) insurance which will cover the “excess”, usually £500 to £1,000, not covered by the basic insurance.

They will often put on the pressure by trying to scare you into buying it, saying that without their CDW insurance you will pay hugely for any damage to the car. The cost of these excess waiver insurances from the rental companies are often extremely high and can be almost as much as the week’s car rental compared to the £40 for an independent annual insurance.

The best thing to do is to take a policy with a standalone provider before you start your holiday and take the details with you.  Annual policies for Europe start from £40; single trip cover is around £25.

Please be careful as I have heard of people being told that their independently bought insurance is not valid and have ended up buying the rental companies insurance therefore having two.

Check what your policy covers you for before you go and be armed with this information when you arrive at the desk. I know a few years ago that I came away feeling completely confused and nearly bought a second policy myself.

When you refuse their CDW insurance they will then ask for your credit card to “pre-authorise” a sum to cover the excess on your credit card.  Typically this is about £600 or equivalent in local currency.  This is normal and allows the company to charge your card the excess if you do have any damage.  They will also charge you fuel if appropriate.

As the excess insurance company works independently to the car hire company if you were to have this sum deducted from your card due to damage you would then need to claim it back from them.

Make sure that there is enough credit available on your card to handle both the excess and the fuel.

You can get daily excess insurance for shorter rentals but if you go abroad at least a couple of times a year then it is worth considering an annual policy.

We always use Insurance4carhire for our insurance because we find it gives the most cover for a modest amount.   They also include misfueling and loss of keys. On checking not all companies include these.

We have just paid £39.99 for an annual policy.

Unlike the car hire firm’s own policies, Insurance4carhire policies will reimburse you for charges as a result of:

  • Damage to windows including car windscreen
  • Any of your car tyres
  • Undercarriage
  • Roof
  • Headlights
  • Loss of keys
  • Misfueling
  • Bumps and scrapes
  • Towing costs and much more

The above are fundamental aspects of a car and it is absurd for the rental companies to exclude them from their policies in the first place.