Do you need insurance to rent a car?
A young woman renting a car

When you rent a vehicle, unfortunately, it’s not quite as straightforward as simply collecting the car keys and driving away, there’s usually a lot of paperwork involved and quite often some hidden fees, sometimes in the form of hire car insurance and additional cover that you may need to purchase.

Of course, it will depend on the rental agreement rules as to whether you’ll be expected to pay for things like theft protection and a loss damage waiver, so it’s always best to double-check the rental terms and conditions before you drive away.

In our guide to insurance and renting a car, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the process, including car hire excess insurance and what extra insurance you can buy to ensure you're fully protected.

Does my standard car insurance policy cover rental cars?

It’s incredibly rare for any standard car insurance policy to extend its cover to rental cars, even if you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, so regardless of whether you’re looking to hire a car in your home country or abroad, it’s probably safe to say that your standard insurance won’t cover you.

Some policies do extend their cover to rental vehicles, but it’s always best to check just in case, as it’s not usually very common.

Do you need insurance when renting a car?

All rental cars usually come with the most basic level of third-party liability insurance as standard, and sometimes they even come with a damage waiver of some kind, so in short, you don’t usually need extra insurance when renting a car.

However, as most rental car companies only offer the most basic form of insurance, you might decide to add additional cover to your rental car agreement so that you have peace of mind that you’ll be protected in almost every eventuality while driving.

How does insurance work when renting?

When renting a car, most rental companies will provide you with a basic form of insurance, usually third party only, and then you’ll be given the option to purchase insurance extras such as upgrading to comprehensive cover or adding breakdown cover to your policy.

What does rental car insurance cover you for?

If you’re hiring a car in Europe, then almost every single car rental company will provide you with three basic forms of cover which include third party, theft and damage cover. If you’re in a country that doesn’t include this as standard, then you’re usually given the option to purchase it as extra cover, but it’s important to note that the cover won’t technically be classed as insurance and instead, it acts as a waiver. This means the car rental company waives its right to make you pay for any damaged incurred.

Take a look below at each type of cover that you can usually expect to receive when renting a car.

Theft cover

Theft cover, or theft protection as it’s sometimes referred to, covers damage done to the car if someone tries to steal it and it also means you won’t have to pay for the cost of a new car if someone does steal the car that you’re renting.

Third-party cover

Third-party liability covers you if you hurt or injury anyone with your rental car. However, it doesn’t cover the actual hire car itself, which is why it’s usually the most basic form of cover as it doesn’t offer any protection against you or the car, just any damage caused to third parties.

Collision damage waiver

This type of cover offers protection against any damage caused to the car’s bodywork, but it doesn’t apply to every bit of the car such as the windows, wheels or the vehicle’s interior; any damage caused to these parts of the car will be your financial responsibility unless you take out a higher level of rental insurance.

How much is excess with rental cars?

The excess is how much money you will have to contribute towards fixing or replacing a car as part of your rental insurance agreement if something happens to the car. Rental companies and insurers are only responsible for a certain amount of financial responsibility, so you can be expected to have to pay an excess fee to cover the rest of the costs.

The amount of excess that you have to pay will differ between rental companies and their insurance providers, as well as whether you’re given the option to increase your voluntary excess to make the insurance payments lower. The excess fee can sometimes be as high as £2,000.

How to find the best deal on car rental insurance

When searching for car rental companies and rental insurance, it’s important that you compare quotes from different providers so you can know what to expect.

In order to find the best deal possible, you should take the following steps into consideration:

  • Try to avoid getting rental insurance from the car rental company themselves as it’s usually much more expensive. It might be more hassle finding a car hire company and then a separate rental insurance provider, but it will likely save you money.
  • Compare deals online and get quotes from different providers.
  • Check whether you’ll be charged daily or annually for the car rental insurance (it usually depends on how long you need the rental car for).

What do I need to rent a car?

Before you can rent a car and drive it away, there are several things you need to do and bring with you in order to be eligible for a car rental agreement.

You’ll need:

  • A valid driving licence.
  • A credit or debit card for payment.
  • Some car rental companies in some countries require you to be at least 25 years old in order to rent a car, so you might need to bring a valid form of ID with you so that they can check you’re old enough to legally hire a car.

For more car insurance advice, be sure to check out our helpful articles below. If you want to start comparing car insurance quotes to see how much you could be saving, simply tap the button below to get started, obligation-free.

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