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Collision Damage Waiver - what it is and why buy it?

CDWCar Hire Agreements are full of terms and conditions which can be confusing. This article focuses on one of those terms – Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – and will be helpful for customers considering a fly drive holiday (flight, hotel and car hire package) to the USA. See our series on Great American Road Trips for inspiration.

What is Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)?

CDW is an optional cover that can be added to your car hire when travelling in the USA. It covers damage to the hire car that you are responsible for under the terms and conditions of the car hire agreement. CDW will be subject to an excess which is your contribution to the cost of repairing any damage.

CDW does not cover you for damage or injury to a person or their property. Incidents of this nature are covered under the mandatory liability policy that car hire companies have to purchase but that may only include a very low limit of cover. In the USA, each State mandates the mandatory minimum limit of liability cover that is provided when you hire a car.

What is Excess Waiver?

Excess waiver is an optional product that covers the excess on the CDW and normally reduces the amount you have to pay to nil or close to nil.

What is Supplementary or Top-Up Liability?

This product offered by your car hire provider increases the amount of liability cover from the mandatory minimum up to $1,000,000, for damage or injury to a person or their property. In our view this is essential cover.

What steps should you take when booking your fly drive holiday?

First of all, check what is being offered when you purchase the fly drive package and pay particular attention to the "insurance" or waivers that are being included. Some packages may include everything you need for a worry-free trip but others may not, and you will need to purchase additional covers when picking up your car.

If you do not purchase the right cover and you have an incident that damages the hire car, another car or even worse injury to another person, you could be left with a hefty bill. Finally, do not assume that your travel insurance policy will cover your car hire as this is likely to be an exclusion.

How can Direct Car Excess help?

Our Car Hire Excess Insurance is designed to reimburse any excess you might have to pay if your rental car is damaged or stolen during your trip. Please note: it is a condition of our excess insurance that you have purchased CDW, or there is CDW in place for the rental agreement being covered.

Our policy provides up to £6,000 excess reimbursement per claim (£7,000 maximum per period of insurance). You can purchase an annual worldwide policy for just £54.98 covering unlimited car hire agreements or a single trip worldwide policy for just £3.99 per day to cover a single car hire agreement.


Our policy is underwritten by American International Group UK Limited and is subject to terms and conditions. For full details of this insurance, please see below for links to the insurance product information documents or click here to go to the Policy Documents section of our website.

IPID for a Worldwide Annual Policy IPID for a Worldwide Single Trip Policy
Policy Wording for a Worldwide Policy