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Get up to speed with your insurance cover

Ever felt ‘in the dark’ whilst trying to understand your insurance? You are probably not alone with that one.

We have put together a few simple pointers, without all the waffle, to put you in the know when it comes to vehicle excess insurance policies.

Man hiring a car

The basics of car hire excess insurance

Simply put, car hire excess insurance covers you against the excess charges you may be liable for on your main vehicle rental agreement.  It works as a reimbursement policy, so the excess amount you would be charged by the rental company in the event of an accident would be reimbursed to you by the excess insurance policy, subject to the claim being covered under the terms and conditions of the policy. 

Some excess policies cover additional elements such as damage to tyres, windscreens or the underbody of the vehicle, although this varies by insurer.  So, it is worth checking out the policy specifics to see what is actually covered, and likewise what you are liable for under your rental agreement. 

It’s important to note that third-party losses are not usually covered by car hire excess policies. Most rental companies in Europe include third party cover in the cost of the rental, but it’s always worth checking, especially if you’re hiring in the USA, Canada or the Caribbean.

We recommend you find a policy to cover all your potential liabilities on the hire agreement.

Don’t get lost in the lingo

We know wordy insurance terms can be off-putting, but we also believe that understanding them is vital for you to make informed decisions about your cover. So, to get you started, here are some common excess insurance terms and their meaning:


An excess means the amount you are liable for should any damage occur to your rental vehicle whilst you are in control of it. Your excess will be the maximum amount you should need to pay for any damage.

Loss Damage Waiver

The Loss Damage Waiver covers the aspects of a vehicle that a rental company would usually exclude from their insurance cover, as they tend to have a high damage frequency.

These normally include:

  • Tyres, wheels, rims and alloys
  • Windscreen and glass on the vehicle
  • Damage to the undercarriage or roof


Collision Damage Waiver is the insurance that covers you for the full cost of the vehicle and is usually subject to a damage excess ranging from £500 to £2,000.

Most rental companies include CDW in their minimum insurance that comes with the car itself, meaning the only thing you are liable for is the excess for any damage to the vehicle, or theft.

However, some rental companies outside of Europe will not provide this insurance and you will be responsible for the full cost of the vehicle should anything happen. In situations like these, you may end up being liable for the full value of a brand-new rental vehicle resulting in a hefty financial loss.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can purchase CDW cover with Questor Insurance to cover you up to £75,000 in the event of damage. This is available on worldwide car hire excess insurance policies for an additional premium.  If you have already purchased a policy and need to upgrade to include this extra cover, please get in touch.


Supplementary Liability Insurance, also referred to as third-party liability insurance, insures you for damage or injuries to another person, vehicle, or property. This type of insurance tends to come as standard within your rental package in most countries such as the UK, Europe, Australia, and Africa. However, this is not the case in every country, for example in the USA and Canada, their minimum cover for third party insurance can be as low as $15,000 leaving you liable for the remainder of the balance if you were involved in a major incident on your holiday.

Check the policy wording

Be sure to familiarise yourself with your policy wording as this sets out exactly what you have cover for, and what you do not, including any specific terms and conditions.

It is advisable to compare policy wordings prior to purchase, as all insurance providers tend to have subtle differences, and cover will vary from one to another.

With this in mind, when comparing policies from different providers price is often an indication of different cover limits and inclusions.  The cheapest more often than not is not necessarily the best value for money, and likewise may not meet all of your requirements. 

We have done a quick comparison for you to highlight some of the differences across a selection of policies currently on sale in the market:

product comparison table

× Not covered                           ** Combined cover limits          Cover limits correct as of 15/03/2021

Not all insurance policies offer coverage to all residents of different nations, it is important to ensure that a policy you are buying is eligible for the country that you live in.  Often, you are asked to select your country of residence at the time of purchase, if you are not asked to declare then do make sure you check the small print of the policy to ensure your country is covered.  For example, post-Brexit, many excess insurance providers in the UK are now unable to sell cover to a number of residents in varying European nations.  However, at Questor Insurance this is not the case, and we are able to offer policies to most European residents through our sister company, Riverside Insurance Agency Malta, which is based within the European Union. 

If you do have a query about cover it is important to get clarification prior to purchasing a policy, many companies offer a range of easy methods to get in touch. It’s also worth checking if the company charges for administrative amendments before purchasing, as these additional fees could work out to be quite costly if you need to update your policy after you have purchased it. 

However, this isn’t the case at Questor, we never charge you to update your policy details or re-send your policy documentation, even if your policy has already started.

When to buy and how to extend

Usually, the rental company will issue you with a rental agreement at the desk which you will be required to date and sign, this document will signify the rental period has started and confirm that you are now responsible for any damage to the vehicle, until it is returned to the rental company.

Most excess insurance policies will not cover a rental if you have already signed the rental agreement or collected the keys before purchasing the cover.

It is important that your excess policy is purchased, and the period of insurance has started before the time shown on your rental agreement. If the rental agreement were signed prior to the policy start date and time, the cover would usually be void.

If you already have a current policy with Questor that you wish to extend, you will simply need to contact our customer service team to pay the additional premium for your policy before signing an updated agreement with your rental company.

Understanding the claims process

If the unfortunate happens and you need to make a claim under your excess insurance policy, it’s helpful to know in advance what information you may need to provide during the claims process.

Familiarise yourself with the claims process attached to your policy, which can normally be found in the policy wording.

Your policy wording is normally in an electronic form and is accessible via a customer portal or will have been emailed to you by the insurer.  Again, it is recommended that you locate this soon after purchase to ensure the cover you have purchased is what you thought you were purchasing during the sales process.

The standard types of documents that are required during a claims process are things that you should readily have hand, such as your vehicle rental agreement, certificate of insurance, copy of your driving licence and proof of payment.

In the unfortunate event that something does happen, it may be handy to try and obtain some photographs for reference later if needed.

Want to know more?  Check out our FAQs or contact one of our customer service team who are always on hand to help.

Date Created: 16/06/2021

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