Damage waiver

If the car damages property or injures someone, the customer or other insurance must pay for the damages (i.e., is "held liable"). US car rental companies sometimes include minimum liability insurance required by law in the basic rental charge. Hertz includes it in all states except California, but will subrogate any damages against the driver (meaning the car is insured to the state minimum but the driver will pay for all damages paid by Hertz). Avis includes it in all states except California and Texas, at least for renters who lack their own coverage. Other companies do not publicize where they include liability insurance in the basic rental charge. Some car rental companies offer more liability insurance for a fee.

Within Canada, all auto rentals are required by law to include a minimum of $200,000 in third-party liability insurance, regardless of whether the renter has their own auto insurance or not. Most rental agencies thus do not provide a third-party liability insurance option, and simply factor in the premium as part of fixed cost of rental.

When a customer does not pay the car rental company to waive damage, and a rented car is stolen, or damaged by accident, vandalism, weather (hail), etc., the customer or other insurance must pay to the rental company the full cost of repair, plus administrative charges and, in some states, loss of use. From some companies, in some states and countries, there are charges for towing, storage, impound, administrative fees and diminution of value of the car (Avis, Budget, National, Thrifty). Some companies even say they alone will decide the diminution (Dollar, Hertz").

The rental company's damage waiver normally covers accidental damage and towing a damaged vehicle, as long as the renter complies with the rental contract (such as authorized drivers, locations, no racing) and with the damage waiver (such as police report). Waivers may also cover theft, vandalism, loss of use, and liability. The renter often has a choice among different coverages for different fees.

Damage waivers are not necessarily complete. They may have deductibles (also called excess) and limits on the amount covered. Liability coverage always has limits.

The descriptions above come from rental company websites, under headings like Policies, FAQ, Coverage, or More.

Damage Waivers can be bought from the car rental company in most countries, or through a car hire excess insurer in the UK, or through travel insurers. Coverage from the car rental company may be required if the renter lacks proof of coverage elsewhere.