Car hire glossary of terms

Everybody needs to take advantage of car hire from time to time, perhaps it’s a sports car for that added luxury on a weekend away, or to keep you mobile while your everyday car is unavailable – whatever the reason car hire can be a flexible and affordable solution.

Signing a car hire agreement might be an overwhelming and confusing business especially if it’s your first time; however we have compiled this helpful jargon-busting guide.

Basic car hire insurance

To remain legal on the road it is natural for the car hire company to ensure your period of hire is covered by insurance. The three types of basic insurance are often included in the price of car hire: cover for vehicle damage, theft, and third party liability.

However, ensure you are aware of the excess fees which applies – usually these will be large. Also be mindful that basic insurance will only cover the person taking out the hire agreement as the driver.

Vehicle Damage Cover

Also known as Car Hire damage cover, collision damage waiver, or damage excess waiver. This is usual subject to a large excess and usually doesn’t cover damage to tyres, wheels, or windscreen. It is basic cover that pays for accidental damage to the hire car under certain circumstances.

Car hire damage cover doesn’t usually include cover for certain areas of the car such as its tyres, windscreen, underside and roof, and it provides no personal injury cover.

Theft Waiver

For additional daily fee a car hire company will usually offer a theft waiver which will reduce or eliminate the excess.

Cancellation Fee

Fees payable for cancelling the car hire agreement within a time period. Be mindful that many early-bird offers provide no refunds should you wish to cancel the booking. Check the terms and conditions before agreeing to the car hire contract. That said, the best car hire deals are often early-bird offers.


The amount payable by the hirer towards the cost of an insurance claim – excess is usual set very high on basic car hire insurance.

Additional Driver

For an additional fee an additional driver can be added to the insurance. Some car hire providers will offer a combined additional driver and lower excess deal in one additional daily payment.

Young Person Insurance

Some car hire companies will insist on additional insurance if the driver is under a certain age. This usually applies to under 25 years of age.