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Hannah Bower

Hannah looks after a number of key areas for MoneyMaxim. Not only does she look after our car hire partners, sealing discounts and special offers for our users, but also heads up our communications and social media team. Hannah knows car hire excess insurance inside out too and you will sometimes find her at the end of the phone keeping her hand in with answering customer queries.

Hannah Bower - Team of Experts

Our Guide for US Vehicle Rental and Car Hire Insurance

We explain the dangers when it comes to US vehicle rental and what to look out for

Golden Gate Bridge

There has been a real resurgence in 2023 of people going to the US for holidays. Whilst this is great to see, make sure you're safe and protected when it comes the car rental for your trip! Headline prices on some websites can look really attractive and cost-effective but they often exclude essential insurance making it risky and potentially even more costly.

Below we discuss how easy it is to rent a vehicle and be unintentionally underinsured and how you can ensure that you have sufficient cover for your travels.

Book via a UK broker

This is the major one! US residents can more often than not use their personal car insurance on rental vehicles and as a result if you go through a US website to book your car hire they can assume that you are a US resident and therefore exclude any insurance. The prices on these US websites are usually cheaper and that is because they do not include insurance therefore leaving you open to a potentially costly bill. It can be tricky to tell as many firms such as Alamo, Holiday Autos, Expedia and Budget have both US and UK versions of their websites. If you’re wondering how to tell which websites are the US version, if they end in .com they are American but if they end in .co.uk they are the UK version.

Run a quote through MoneyMaxim’s car hire engine or our in house broker Clarify Car Hire to get a price that includes all the essential insurance.

Check what insurance is included before you book

For any car hire, there are three main insurances:

Collision Damage Waiver – covers your hire vehicle against damage, anything from a scratch on the side all the way to the vehicle being written off.

Theft Protection – covers your hire vehicle against partial theft or total theft.

Third Party Insurance – covers bodily harm or property damage to another party. Ideally you want $1million of third party cover.

In the US, firms tend to group together Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection (TP) and term it Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). But you should make sure before you book your hire that it includes the above. If it doesn’t, you could be liable for either damage/theft to your rental vehicle or for third party claims.

The worst case scenario is that you do not have sufficient cover and should you have an accident you could find yourself with an astronomical bill. The best case scenario is that you arrive at the car hire desk and they see you haven’t got the correct insurance and you have to buy it at the desk for a daily fee - this will be expensive but not as much as a big claim!

Not having primary liability insurance

We have a number of customers who come to us when they realise they have no insurance in their rental looking to get it through our car hire insurance service. However, whilst our CDW policies will work to cover damage and theft to your hire vehicle, the Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) will only provide cover if you already have some third party insurance included from the hire company. The SLI policies on our website are designed to literally supplement the third party cover you already have and top it up to $1million.

It may seem crazy that a car hire firm wouldn’t include any state legal minimum third party cover but the states of Florida, California, New Jersey and Ohio actually don’t require car hire firms to provide you with the cover or check that you have it! This means you could end up driving around with an SLI policy that will not provide any insurance as you don’t have the base cover from the rental firm included in your rental.

If you do end up in the situation that you realise your car hire has no third party cover at all, many car rental companies will sell State Minimum Liability Insurance as an add-on. Which you can then top up with an SLI policy through us.

Not getting excess insurance

Even if you have gone through a UK website and you find that you have full Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection without an excess and Third Party Liability Insurance up to $1million, you will often find there are areas of the vehicle which are excluded from cover. These tend to be the wheels, glass, roof, underbody and tyres of the car. We would therefore suggest getting an excess insurance policy so you can cover these areas and well as protecting yourself against the cost of locking yourself out of the car, losing the keys and lots more besides.

Though you may not need the excess part, the additional cover the policy provides for these parts of the vehicle could prove to be invaluable and save you from a steep bill if you end up with a cracked windscreen or damaged wheel.

Remember that we offer various levels of cover through out car hire insurance comparison service so you can find what you need. Do also check out our FAQs here, they can be really helpful for any questions you may have!