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This really depends whether you have hired your car from a European or American broker, this is due to American car hire companies giving less coverage generally than its European counterparts.
If you are hiring a car in the USA and Canada either on an American or Canadian website or by going straight into a car rental station in the USA or Canada, you have the choice of hiring a car that is either inclusive, or exclusive, of insurance. You occasionally find similar offers through UK comparison websites.
Car rental without any insurance cover is available because nationals of those countries can often use their normal car insurance policy to cover rented vehicles. The insurance which you, as a non US / Canadian citizen, must buy is Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) / Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) (covering the damage, theft and loss of use of the hired vehicle). This will be offered at the car rental counter and generally costs between US$20 and US$30 a day. Normally US and Canadian policies do not levy an excess although damage to windows, tyres, the undercarriage and the roof is not covered.
Alternatively you can buy a policy through insurers such as those available through the MoneyMaxim car hire insurance service, which tend to be a fraction of the cost.
Additionally seriously consider whether you also need top up liability insurance, available here as 'Supplementary Liability Insurance'. As you can see from the table below in some parts of the Americas the legal minimum level of liability insurance cover car rental firms need to provide can be as low as a totally insufficient $25,000. If you were found at fault in any reasonably serious accident this could leave you personally liable for a huge bill. To protect yourself you can take out a 'Supplementary Liability Insurance' policy which will top up the local cover to $1,000,000 or more. Be aware that the first claim should be on the local car rental policy and then, only if this is insufficient, on the SLI policy. You can buy a policy covering both CDW and SLI for a trip of 60 days for as little as £80 through the MoneyMaxim car hire insurance service so buying this type of insurance is really not very expensive at all - as long as you don't rely on your car hire company.
Here's a brief summary of the legal minimum liability limits by state. They're mostly shown with separate amounts for bodily injury to each person, all bodily injury & property damage for each accident or some (mostly Canadian states) as a single Combined Single Limit to cover all liability. All figures are shown in $1000's. So for example in California, the minimum cover for a single person being injured would be just $15,000 with the total for all bodily injuries being $30,000 and only $5,000 in property. So don't have an accident with a film producer with his lawyer wife & children in the Lexus.
|State||Bodily Injury Per Person||Bodily Injury Total||Property Damage||Combined Single Limit|
|District of Columbia||25||50||10||0|
|Rising to 25/50/20 Jan 2015|
|Insurance not mandatory for locals|
|Bodily limits doubled for death|
|Prince Edward Island||0||0||0||200|
|Locals resident can pay $500 fee in lieu of insura|
All figures expressed as US$000
Details researched as at 13th August 2014 - correct to our best belief.
If you book your US rental in the UK, or on a UK (.co.uk website), the car rental agreement will generally (but not always) include cover for Third Party, Collision Damage Waiver and Theft. An excess is not normally charged in the US, although this practice is changing. You will as hirer be responsible for damage to windows, tyres, the undercarriage and the roof. As car rental agreements do differ please check the details of your rental agreement carefully so that you understand exactly what cover is being offered.
You can obtain policies covering either full CDW or SLI or worldwide excess policies (both of which also cover damage to windows, tyres, the undercarriage and the roof) through the MoneyMaxim car hire insurance service
This content was last reviewed on 13/08/2014