An estimated 440,000 Brits will be heading to Florida for some winter sun this year, according to Visit Florida Research. Many of these travelers will rent a car but different rules governing insurance between Europe and the United States is leaving U.K. travellers exposed to open-ended liability bills.
Over half of U.K. consumers have rented a car at some point, but most of these have rented in Europe where legislation requires that third party liability insurance is included in the price of the rental. In the U.S. there is no statutory obligation to provide insurance to someone renting a car to cover the damage to the vehicle — known as a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and a Loss Damage Waiver.
In 2010, 1.4 million Brits — a third of all British visitors, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Travel and Tourism Industries — rented a car in the U.S., but a survey released Oct. 18 by iCarhireinsurance.com and conducted by YouGov shows high levels of ignorance about car rental insurance.
Three quarters of British travelers didn't know that you need to purchase CDW and Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) when renting in the U.S., otherwise you risk being responsible for the full cost of the vehicle if it's damaged in an accident, or even worse, a six figure claim for compensation if there is death or injury to a third party in an accident.
Some rental companies include these 'waivers' in the rental whilst others charge up to $26 per day at the rental desk for this cover. If a waiver isn't in place then the customer potentially leaves themselves liable for the entire value of the car, plus any towing charges and administrative charges that the rental company may be exposed to in the event of an accident. What's more, this liability can exist no matter who’s at fault for the accident.
"You need the abilities of a code-breaker at Bletchley to understand car rental in the U.S. and Canada," said Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com. "However, ignorance is not an option when the potential cost for a typical mid-size car if written off is $30,000.00."
More worrying still is liability cover. Most states require some liability cover to be provided, others do not require it at all and rental companies will change their practices depending on the state in which they are renting.
State minimum liability levels are typically pretty low, so most companies will offer to sell Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI and ALI) at the rental desk. Again this can cost up to $20 per day but will increase the level of cover you have to $1,000,000. Without liability insurance, travelers leave themselves exposed to huge personal liability claims for any injuries they may cause as a result of an accident.
There are even differences using the same company. For example, if you book a car using the AVIS UK site, most insurance is included with your rental, but if you do it through its U.S. site, you often get a price without the insurance.
The same is the case for Hertz, whereas Enterprise generally doesn't include the insurances when booking even on their UK site, leaving customers to either pay more at the rental desk or find one of the lower cost stand-alone insurance options available online.
These changes of policy even within the same company makes it increasingly difficult for customers to easily understand what is included in their rental and what is not, and the process of shopping around for the best rental deal can easily lead customers to assume that they are booking an all-inclusive price when in fact no insurance is being provided at all.
"With the risks from inadequate insurance so high, we strongly recommend that travellers buy a stand-alone car hire insurance policy from iCarhireinsurance.com before they fly," Suarez said. "They can then enjoy absolute peace of mind that whoever the rental company is, whatever state they're driving in and whichever website they used to book their U.S. or Canada car rental, they are covered."
An iCarhireinsurance.com policy for the U.S. and Canada is from GBP 6.99 daily and provides up to $100,000 protection for CDW, up to $1,000,000 liability protection and a zero excess policy — meaning there is no need to purchase additional insurance at the rental car pick-up point. It also offers more security than most policies on offer at the rental desk with cover for road rage, carjacking, travel expenses, hotel expenses and 60 days continuous cover.
Founded in 2009, iCarhireinsurance.com is a new online insurance service that takes the hassle out of car rental, car club and van rental insurance. It offers a range of policies that are fully comprehensive, simple to understand, offer unbeatable values and are accepted at all car and van rental locations worldwide.
www.iCarhireinsurance.com is a registered trading name of Halo Insurance Services Ltd. Halo Insurance Services was founded by Suarez, an insurance professional with 13 years of experience in the industry.