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Damage to Your Hire Car: The Penalties

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 4 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Car Hire Damage To Hire Car Crashed Hire

If you've ever hired a car it's quite possible that the price you've actually been charged after you rented the vehicle is rather more than the amount you thought you were going to pay. That's usually down to 'add-ons' - extras that are added on top of the actual cost of renting the car.

Some of these things, such as a minimum of third party insurance, are a legal requirement, but others, such as theft protection, are not - and it's sometimes quite hard to work out what it is and whether you need it or not.

There are several different types of insurance that you will be offered before you hire a car. The most common are listed below.

Third Party Insurance

Also referred to as Motor Liability Insurance or Legal Liability Insurance, 3rd party cover is usually included in the price you are quoted for rental.

What are you covered for?

Any damage you may cause to any passengers you are carrying and their property when using the hire car

You're not covered for:
  • Theft of or someone trying to steal your hire car
  • Theft of belongings from the car
  • Death of the driver
  • Injury to the driver
  • Any damage caused to the hire car.

Vehicle damage Cover

This is also known as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

What are you covered for?
  • Damage to the rental car - the insurance will pay for the cost of repairing the vehicle

Do read the small print though - you will still need to pay an excess charge towards the repairs to the damaged hire car - and in the UK this can be anything up to £600. However if the hire car provider can get the cost back from a third party who is at fault for the damage then they will usually give you the money back.

You are not covered for:
  • Any negligence that causes damage to the vehicle
  • Damage that was carried out intentionally
  • Damage caused by putting the wrong fuel into the vehicle
  • Damage caused by breaching any part of the rental agreement
  • Damage caused through someone trying to steal the car

Theft Protection

What are you covered for?

  • Replacing the cost of your hire car or any part of it that is stolen

As above if you claim this insurance you will be expected to pay an excess charge towards the cost of replacement of either the car or its parts, which in the UK can be up to £600.

You are not covered for:
  • Negligence in either safe keeping of keys or when leaving the car unsupervised

This means if you leave the keys in the ignition, or lose them, then you are likely to not be covered.

Who is Covered to Drive?

Only 'named' drivers on the rental agreement are covered by the insurance. Extra or additional drivers can be put forward onto the cover for a charge. Your car-hire provider can give you further details if required.

If you are concerned about being covered for damage to your hire car, make sure that the insurance you choose covers you for this – otherwise you will be expected to foot the bill for any damage caused to the hire car while it is in your possession.

Even if you do get the damage insurance, make sure you ask the important question and find out how much the excess charge is before you sign on the dotted line, or you could end up paying out for both the insurance and any damage caused.

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