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What is collision damage waiver?

...and why you still need car rental excess insurance even if you have CDW.

Collision damage waiver (CDW) is a type of protection that takes care of your financial responsibility for loss or damage to the rental car you use, as long as you don't break the rental agreement's terms and conditions. While you don't have to pay for the direct damages, the waiver might charge an excess which means you can still be at risk of significant out-of-pocket expenses if things go wrong.

What does it cover?

Collision damage waiver generally covers the following:

  • The cost of damage to your vehicle and damage to third party property above the excess amount
  • Accidents where you're not at fault, as long as they believe the third party insurer will pay
  • Third party injury, paid for through the vehicle registration fee

What doesn't it include?

Common collision damage waiver exclusions include:

  • Underbody and overhead damage
  • Tyres, windscreen, headlight and wheel damage
  • Reckless or deliberate damage
  • Accidents involving a single vehicle
  • Breaches of the rental agreement
  • Driving in prohibited or restricted areas
  • Unauthorised driver
  • Water damage
  • Using the wrong fuel type

Finder survey: Do Australians understand rental car excess cover?

Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1112 Australians, December 2023

Why do I need rental car excess insurance?

Because there are so many exclusions, a collision damage waiver isn't enough if you want comprehensive protection. Rental car excess insurance, on the other hand, can give you that added protection. Essentially, even if you have CDW, the rental company will still charge you an excess amount if the car suffers loss or damage under your care.

Let's say the worst happens and you end up writing off a rental car completely. Instead of paying out the value of the car, you'll have to pay the excess amount agreed in your rental agreement, which can be thousands of dollars. With the right rental car excess insurance, you can reduce this excess to $0 so you have no further out-of-pocket expenses if your rental car is stolen or gets into an accident.

It can also include cover for windscreens, tyres, roof, underbody and more. Car rental companies usually also offer rental car excess insurance but it normally costs a lot. If you want cheap rental car excess insurance, buy it online; cover starts at $2.83 per day.

NameInternational or domestic coverEligible driver ageFeaturesStarting price (per day)Apply
Rental cover logo

Both19-99 years
  • Complete vehicle coverage for up to $100,000 in damages
  • Coverage for theft, towing, damage to tyres, windscreens, roof, underbody, and key loss
  • Coverage for accident-related charges e.g. admin/processing fees, "loss of use", relocation fees, and more
  • Cancel anytime up until pickup, and for any reason
  • No further excess payable
$7.92 ($0 excess)Get quote
Car hire excess loogo

Car hire excess

Both21-75 years
  • Cover from $4,000 to $8,000
  • Additional cover for damage to windscreens, roof, tyres and underbody
  • Underwritten by HDI Global Specialty SE - Australia
  • No further excess payable
$9.29 ($0 excess)Get quote

*Prices are based on a 15-day hire in Australia, as of April 2024. Benefits vary from brand to brand. Always read through the product disclosure statement (PDS) to make sure the product is suitable for you.

What's the difference between CDW and LDW?

Most car rental companies consider collision damage waiver (CDW) and loss damage waiver (LDW) to be the same thing. In most countries, they come packaged together. However, you often need to purchase them separately in the US and Canada.

For the rental companies that separately define CDW and LDW, CDW provides cover if there's damage to your rental car as a result of an accident while LDW is a combination of CDW and theft protection. That means you'll also be covered for car replacement if your rental car is stolen. CDW also usually excludes windscreen, tyres, interior, undercarriage, roof and side mirror repair. If any of these parts are damaged, you'll likely have to pay the full cost of repairs.

LDW/CDW in other countries

While collision damage waiver is included when you use a rental car in Australia, there are several popular holiday destinations where you'll have to pay extra if you want it.

  • US. Some rental companies in the US will not include collision damage waiver in their initial fees. It's common for you to be offered CDW at the time of rental for an additional daily charge.
  • New Zealand. You will probably find collision damage waiver as an optional add-on with many car rental companies in New Zealand. It can often cost you an additional $20 per day on top of your initial car rental fee.
  • UK & Ireland. The majority of UK and Irish car rental companies should include collision or loss damage waiver in their total rental fee.

Compare car rental excess insurance

Frequently asked questions

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