Travel Advice: Why car hire excess insurance saves money

Car hire is sold with basic insurance but there is usually an excess amount on top of that

Buying insurance in advance can  cover excluded items such as  lost keys, damaged tyres, theft of personal items, or broken glass. Photograph: iStock

Buying insurance in advance can cover excluded items such as lost keys, damaged tyres, theft of personal items, or broken glass. Photograph: iStock

 

There can be few greater irritants than the rigmarole surrounding car insurance when you go to pick up a rental car.

It can be as much or more than the hire cost, doubling the initial rate. Some counter staff can be more than enthusiastic in encouraging you into taking the insurance. You wonder if they are selling insurance, not car hire.

Car hire in most countries is sold with basic insurance, also known as collision damage waiver, covering you for accidents and damage though not all damages. There is usually an excess amount which can be anything from €100 to €1,000 that you pay in the case of anything happening.

The extra insurance that you are offered is to reduce the excess and cover eventualities like losing keys, damaging tyres or undercarriage, theft of personal items or broken glass.

You can now take out excess car hire insurance that will cover the excluded items on the usual policy for a much smaller amount and depending on the policy it can be as low as €3 per day. You need to buy it in advance of any planned trip.

Some of these policies will also include additional drivers, as that can be a substantial extra cost. There is also an annual policy that will cover you for any car hire during the year for a cost in the region of €50 in Europe.

Like any insurance, there will be restrictions and it is important to read what they are. There may be restrictions on the length of each hire period, the number of rentals during the year or the amount that any claim cannot exceed. Excess car hire insurance can be purchased from companies that already sell car insurance or from online brokers. jscales@irishtimes.com

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