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Sally Wilson

Sally is a key member of the MoneyMaxim editorial team. She is a frequent hire-car user and often goes on holiday with her family. With an interest in getting great value for money, Sally shares her hints and tips for travelling and insurance.

USA Car Hire Insurance Pitfalls - And How to Avoid Them

Our guide to steering clear of mistakes when buying car hire insurance for America

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We get many calls and emails from customers regarding car hire insurance in America. It is great that travel is back up and running but we want to make sure that everyone stays safe and protected – including when it comes to car hire and the relevant insurance.

When you travel to the US or Canada there are a number of ways in which you might find yourself underinsured without realising it. We talk through these potential pitfalls to help you make certain you have the car hire insurance cover you need for a car rental in America.

Pitfall #1 - Presuming you have insurance included

Never presume. With any car hire, no matter where you are picking up your car, you should always check what insurance you have included within your car hire. In the majority of cases when you hire from a UK website, you would find the main insurances are included. What we are seeing more of this year is customers booking through a US website. Car hire prices are rising and quite naturally customers are shopping around to find the best deal. Prices via a US website can often appear lower – however this is frequently because they do not include insurance.

US citizens can often cover rental cars through their private car insurance or with their credit card. As they make up the bulk of customers for car rental firms in the US, the firms do not tend to package insurance in with their cars. If it is offered, it needs to be added at an extra cost.

Pitfall #2 - Not understanding what insurance you need

The main insurances you are looking for are Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), Theft Waiver and Third Party (Liability) Insurance.

Collision Damage Waiver – covers damage to the car itself

Theft Waiver – covers you if the car is stolen

Third Party or Liability Insurance – covers damage to other people or their property

These are the most common terms used in car hire insurance but there are many other words or phrases that you may come across. If you read the terms and conditions of your car hire and are still confused, then a call to your car hire provider to clarify what cover you have is the best way forward.

Once you have this information to hand you will be in a better position to purchase any additional car hire insurance you may need.

Pitfall #3 - Buying an SLI policy with no primary liability insurance in place

An SLI (Supplementary Liability Insurance) policy does not work without primary liability insurance in place – it literally would have nothing to supplement. If you want to top up your third party insurance to the preferred amount of $1million then your car hire needs to come with the state minimum level of liability insurance – the primary insurance. This level differs between states but is the minimum level required to legally drive a car.

You may presume that all cars would come with that state minimum but that is not the case. We refer you back to Pitfall #1! In fact in the states of Florida, California and Ohio there is no obligation for a car rental company to check that you have any liability insurance or to provide it. However many car hire firms across the US do offer the State Minimum Liablity Insurance as an add-on so, if your car rental package does not automatically include it, speak to your car hire company. With this minimum in place you then would be able to top up your liability insurance with an SLI policy through MoneyMaxim.

We are here to help with your car hire and car hire insurance in the USA. We provide a comparison service for many types of car hire insurance including SLI, CDW and excess insurance policies.

We hope this guide has provided you with the information you need to find the US car hire insurance that is right for your rental requirements but should you have any further queries please call our customer service team on 0118 3218197 or use our online chat facility.

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