When hiring a car, only the driver named in the booking is permitted to drive the vehicle. Any other drivers wishing to drive must register as Additional Drivers with the hire company. To do this, you will normally need to provide your licence details and may need to pay an additional daily fee.
Additional drivers can often be added when picking up a hire car.
Breakdown Assistance / Insurance
All hire companies provide breakdown assistance service for their vehicles. You will normally be given a telephone number to ring in the event of any problems.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
The CDW reduces the hirer’s liability for the cost of damage caused to the vehicle whilst it is in their possession. Hirers will normally only be liable for a fixed excess amount if a CDW is in place.
The CDW may be included in your daily rate or may require an additional daily payment. This is clearly stated when booking (see your car’s Rental Conditions).
Damage / Liability Insurance
In most countries, hired cars will be provided with third-party insurance that covers the driver’s liability to other users.
In other words, if you cause an accident, all damage to other vehicles will be covered. This insurance usually has a maximum cover level – perhaps £1,000,000 – after which you could theoretically be liable for any remaining costs.
Deposit (local deposit)
Car hire companies normally require a deposit from you when you collect your vehicle. This is normally an amount that is taken from your credit card and then refunded at the end of the rental, less any charges for damage, late return or other problems.
Hire car insurance usually places restrictions on the areas to which a rented car can be taken. A typical example might be that you cannot drive into other countries with your hire car.
Many car rental companies provide unlimited mileage policies – you can do as many miles as you wish without any extra payment.
However, there are sometimes daily mileage limits. If you go beyond these, you will have to pay an additional amount for each extra mile or kilometre.
Mileage policies should be specified when booking. Check the Rental Conditions for your chosen vehicle.
Extended Protection (EP)
In most countries, the law requires unlimited third party insurance cover. In the USA, this isn’t the case, and the legal minimum can be as low as $5,000. Extended Protection provides additional cover for the hire car driver so that their liability for bodily injury or property damage is covered to a much higher amount – such as $1 million.
Hire car companies normally specify how much fuel should be in your hire car when you return it. A common practice is collect full, return full, but there are variations.
If you return your vehicle with too little fuel, you will be charged a refuelling fee which will normally be taken from your deposit.
One Way Rental
One way rental means picking up your hire car in one location and returning it to the same company in a different location.
This can be very useful but normally requires payment of an additional ‘one way’ fee.
Out Of Hours Charge
An out of hours charge is the fee charged by most hire companies for allowing you to pick up or drop off your hire car out of normal office hours.
Period Of Hire
The period of hire is simply the time you have hired the vehicle for. You are responsible for the vehicle during the hire period.
Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
It’s worth remembering that if you are hurt or killed in an accident in a hire car, your injuries will not be covered by the rental company’s standard insurance.
Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) is an option that is usually available to cover the risk to the driver of death of permanent disability resulting from an accident in a rented car.
Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)
See Extended Protection.
Theft Insurance / Waiver
Theft insurance covers you in the case of the theft or attempted theft of your hire car. Without Theft Insurance, you may be liable for the whole value of the car (or a sizeable amount of it).
Theft Insurance usually carries an excess and is normally invalidated if you are unable to return the keys of the rental vehicle (as this probably means you didn’t secure it property before it was stolen).
Hire cars are normally classified by type, not by make and model. A hire car type is normally defined by attributes such as seating capacity, luggage capacity, size and body shape (e.g. estate).
When you book a hire car, you are usually reserving a certain type of car, not a specific make and model (unless specified otherwise).