A Guide To Car Hire Documentation

We like to think our car excess insurance is nice and straightforward. Your car rental agreement however, might not be so easy to understand. We’ve put together a handy guide to car hire documentation.

Car rental insurance documentation isn’t the most exciting read, but it’s important to ensure you’ve looked through all of it, including the small print, just to ensure you haven’t missed anything and you have fully understood it...

Also, ensure the rental company provides you with your rental agreement in writing well in advance of your travel date. This will give you time to digest the information and raise any concerns you may have well in advance. No-one wants to read terms and conditions at the airport when you should be getting on with your holiday!

Unexpected Charges When hiring a car

Credit card deposits and car hire credit card blocks

Some car hire companies will put a credit card block when you hire a car so that if you do damage the car, they know you have the funds available to pay for it. Of course, if you do have to pay for damage, you'll be able to claim this back from your car hire excess insurance policy. However, you will need to check the limit on your credit card and check how much your car hire company will need to block off.

If for example your credit limit is £1000 and the car hire company needs to block off £900, you might find yourself short of money before your holiday has even started.

Some car hire companies will offer you their insurance to reduce this credit card block but if you've already bought an insurance4carhire policy this will feel like an unnecessary expense. Unfortunately however, there's no way around this. The best course of action is to shop around before you book your hire car to find a car hire company which doesn't require much of a deposit from your credit card.


It’s one of the most common hidden charges. Make sure you know how much fuel should be in the tank before returning the vehicle. There are normally two different procedures:

  1. Supplied full & return full – so, you’ll only pay for the fuel you use. Be aware, if you return the car with an empty fuel tank, the car rental company may charge you for the price of a full tank of fuel. It’s best to fill the car back up yourself to ensure you’re not paying over the odds.
  2. Supplied full & return empty – this way, you’ll end up paying for a full tank of fuel. Again, this can be costly if you’re not planning on doing much driving.

TIP: Misfuelling is when you put the wrong type of fuel in the car and it damages the engine. If you’ve bought an annual policy with insurance4carhire.com, you can claim back any money the rental company charges you in excess fees as a result of this damage.

Documentation for additional drivers when hiring a car

Some rental companies will include an additional driver for free whereas some will charge an extra fee per day. Check your documentation before you travel to see if you have to pay for additional drivers.

TIP: All insurance4carhire policies will cover for excess charges imposed by the rental company, for up to seven additional drivers providing they’re listed on the car rental agreement...

Car hire age restrictions

Some rental companies will charge you an extra fee if you’re under 25 – this is known as a ‘young driver fee’.

Some companies will have a maximum age restriction whereby you’ll either have to pay extra to hire the car, or in some cases it’s made compulsory to purchase their own excess reduction insurance.

TIP: Insurance4carhire.com can cover drivers between the ages of 21 and 85 against excess charges imposed by car rental companies.

‘Quick’ drop offs

Not every rental company is open all hours, especially the smaller firms. Most of these operate a ‘’drop and go’’ procedure for out of hours. This means when you return the car, you’ll drop the keys in to a box at the rental company. If you’re going to do this, be sure to check your Credit Card statement when you get home in case they have noticed any damage and have charged you for it. Some other companies will deem you liable until they inspect the vehicle the next time they open, so if you’re on your flight and somebody scratches the car, you may still be charged – check these procedures before you consider a ‘drop and go’.

Car hire jargon buster

You may be offered various kinds of insurance at the rental desk, or you may find these included in your rental agreement. Here are some examples of car rental ‘jargon’ to look out for. Please note, every car rental company will vary.

CDW – Collision Damage Waiver – insures the vehicle against damage; however don’t assume this will cover everything. Normally, this excludes damage to windows, tyres, undercarriage and roof. You’ll normally be left liable for an ‘excess’ otherwise known as a ‘deductible’.

LDW – Loss Damage Waiver – effectively the same as Collision Damage Waiver. Normally this includes theft protection.

SCDW – Super Collision Damage Waiver – damage excess cover which either removes or reduces your liability for any excess.

TP – Theft Protection – insures the vehicle in the event of theft. Be aware, an excess may apply.

PAI – Personal Accident Insurance – passenger insurance for injury or death.

ALI – Additional Liability Insurance – an optional insurance to protect authorised drivers if they injure someone or damage someone else’s property.