As we explained in our article on the ins and outs of car hire insurance, all car hires in the EU come with a basic level of insurance. That means that the rate you see will have this basic level of insurance included. However, that’s all it is: basic. And, unless otherwise specified, the driver will still be liable in the event of an accident or damage to the rental. This is called the excess liability, which can be anywhere from nearly 1,300 Euros upwards! Essentially, the excess liability amount is your basic financial exposure. To collect a car hire, the supplier usually requires you to leave a pre-authorised block on your credit card. This will cover the excess liability amount. Extra insurance such as a Top-Up insurance or the supplier’s in-house cover can reduce the excess liability to zero. And getting it is certainly something to seriously consider.

Extra insurance to cover the excess gives drivers peace of mind with the knowledge that, for the most part, if the car rental is damaged, you’ll either be covered or be reimbursed. (The ‘for the most part’ bit is because there are still a few exceptions, which boil down to driver negligence.)

In-house cover with the supplier or private insurance?

There are two main ways you can reduce the excess liability: the supplier’s in-house cover and a private insurance that you can get yourself. They work differently. For instance, if you take out the supplier’s in-house cover (often called a SuperCover or similar), you won’t need to leave a pre-authorised block on your card for the excess liability. Instead, the cover is included in the rental rate: a much higher rental rate!

Beware the hard-sell from suppliers

Suppliers are very anxious to sell you their in-house “insurance”. This is primarily because they make a good profit from it. For customers, it may be simple and easy but it’s also costly. Another problem to be aware of is that it very often isn’t even a real insurance (hence the “” bunny ears!). Indeed, many customers have very little idea of what the in-house insurance actually means or includes. It doesn’t help that the Rental Agreement’s Terms and Conditions (Ts&Cs) with regard to it are either difficult to understand, especially the “exceptions”, or just plain non-existent. The supplier relies on customers wanting to get on and out of there as quickly as possible. More often than not, the supplier will simply put your money straight into the bank and in return, agree to look after you.

See our post on hard-sell tactics to watch out for.

Many hirers opt for private insurance. Why?

For a number of reasons. The main two being:

  1. It costs a lot less, and
  2. Because they want the assurance of being covered by a real insurance company.

Our Top-Up insurance, for example, uses a reputable, internationally known insurer who is answerable to UK insurance laws and regulatory bodies. It has proper Ts&Cs which are clear to understand and a Key Facts page, as required by law.

Private insurance like a Top-Up insurance has nothing to do with the supplier. They don’t need to know the details of it and we advise customers not to disclose any information to the supplier about it. Private insurance is just that: private between you and the insurance company and your broker if you use one.

Importantly, the beneficiary in the event of a claim is you – not the supplier. So if you opt for getting a private insurance, as far as the supplier is concerned, you are accepting the excess liability. This means you will still need to leave a pre-authorised block on your credit card for the excess liability. Obviously, if the car is returned fine, then the block on your credit card will be released. But even if the car is damaged and you are charged by the supplier, you can then claim back the amount from your private insurance. You can do this after the end of hire, when you have an invoice to use in the claim.

Our Top-Up Insurance

We’ll be updating this soon so watch this space.