A Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is additional protection that reduces your liability for damage if your hire car is stolen or damaged. You usually agree to an excess fee, meaning you’ll cover the cost of any repairs up to this amount.

It’s also known as a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) in some countries, and you may be unable to hire the car without it.

How do I buy a CDW?

Car rental companies often sell their own CDWs when you pick up the car, if the car is damaged or stolen, they can keep your deposit and charge you the excess you’ve agreed to – but your liability usually stops there.

For extra protection, some companies offer a ‘super’ CDW (also known as an excess waiver), which means you won’t have to pay the excess either. Buying this can be relatively expensive, but it may be cheaper than not being covered at all.

Can I buy car hire excess insurance?

You can, but you’ll need to arrange your CDW before you travel, and not all hire companies can accept pre-arranged policies.

Some credit cards offer CDWs when you use them to purchase your hire car. Check before hiring to avoid paying unnecessarily.

In most cases, if you decide to arrange your own insurance, you’ll need to make sure you also have funds available on a credit card in case something happens. Then, if the car is damaged or stolen, you can pay any excess to the rental company and claim from your insurer when you get home.

Always keep your hire documents safe, and make sure you get copies of any paperwork with details of amounts you need to claim.

What do CDWs cover?

Surprisingly, CDWs only covers the bodywork of the car. This is everything that’s painted such as, the doors, bonnet, back, side panels and wing mirror housings.

They don’t cover:

  • Glass (all windows, lights and mirrors)
  • Tyres & wheels
  • Flat battery
  • Interior trim (seats, carpet, and all interior materials)
  • Undercarriage
  • Your belongings
  • Lost keys
  • Gears/transmission

Many people choose to purchase additional insurance to fully protect them.

Is a CDW the same as insurance?

No. A CDW is part of your hire contract and is controlled by the hire car company. Any disputes will need to be taken up with the hire car company and may end up being settled in court.

Insurance is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), meaning you can complain free of charge to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you feel you’ve been mistreated.

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