CDW and SLI Policies for the US and Canada

The US and Canada have different rules when it comes to hiring a car, make sure you don't get caught out by getting the cover you need.

Mark's Top Tip

Always double check what's included when buying American car hire. That way you can buy extra cover, if it's required, before you travel and save.

Car Hire in the US and Canada

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The US, Canada and the Caribbean have slightly different rules in terms of minimum cover of insurance you need to be able to travel around in your hire car to those of Europe. By checking exactly what you need before you go away you're able to get the best deals and be prepared for the journey ahead!

It is essential to have a car hire excess policy with collision damage waiver (CDW) and loss damage waiver (LDW). You can get rental vehicles with or without this cover, as nationals are often insured through their own car insurance within the US or Canada. As a non national though you would be taking a big financial risk to drive without it. Basically you would have to pay the full cost of the car if it was written off in an at fault accident.

Seriously consider also purchasing supplementary liability insurance to top up your cover. The lowest legal level of liability insurance cover car rental firms provide can be completely insufficient, perhaps as low as $30,000. An annual independent CDW and SLI policy can be as cheap as £75 covering trips up to 60 days long so it's not really expensive to be fully covered either. Run a car hire insurance comparison through our service and include CDW and SLI for a full list of options.

These policies normally include cover for the rental vehicle for CDW/LDW, typically up to a figure between US$50,000 and US$80,000. A number of policies also provide SLI usually of a figure of US$1million or more. As a rule, independent policies also cover claims for glass, tyre, roof and undercarriage damage.

There are, however, some restrictions on these policies to watch out for. Policies are available for those between the ages of 21 and 85, but be aware that some car hire firm impose a requirement that younger drivers (up to the age of 25) take their own excess insurance.

Rental periods must not be longer than the period detailed in your policy - for annual policies this is normally either 31 or 60 days. Single trip policies can cover periods of up to 180 days. The policies are not valid for passenger vehicles with more than 9 seats, commercial vans, camper vans, mobile homes or motor cycles. They are also not normally valid for expensive or exotic cars (policies normally have a limit between US$50,000 and US$80,000) or antique vehicles (that is vehicles over 20 years old). Finally, residents of the USA and Canada cannot be covered under the policies available in this country.

If you have booked with any of the Fly Drive companies it is important to note that the deals they offer are so competitive because they rely on you taking their insurance to make the programme cost effective for them. Therefore they can at times appear obstructive when it comes to accepting insurance bought independently. My suggestion, if you have booked a fly drive, is to email the rental company you are taking the car from and ask for their confirmation that they are happy to accept your own Collision Damage Waiver and Supplementary Liability insurance policy. Most will do so.

For significant accidents claims for a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) policy tend to be handed directly between insurer and car hire company. For minor claims you would be expected to foot the bill and claim it back from your insurer when you get back to the UK.

It is really important, especially with SLI claims, that you follow the insurers process carefully. In a SLI claim the first part of any claim is on any locally provided insurance your car rental firm has provided and only once you have reached their policies limit does your SLI policy come into play. If you claim only on your Supplementary Liability policy you can end up causing real confusion. Just contact the car hire insurer you bought from and they will make sure you stay on the straight and narrow.

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This content was last reviewed on 31/07/2014