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2 Types of Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) in the US and Europe


With every rental car you have the choice between a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) with and without self-participation. In the US CDW without self-participation is compulsory. That is not the case in Europe. A rental car without self-participation is usually somewhat more expensive, but you do not have to pay when the car gets damaged. Here we will explain all the differences and show you why you should pay a CDW without self-participation, even if you travel in Europe.

Collision Damage Waiver



Getting into an accident with a rental is the nightmare of every rental car driver. Although you have paid for a CDW, when booking the rental car, that does not necessarily exclude that you have to pay for a part of the damage.

CDW with self-participation

"With self-participation" means that you have to pay a self-share in the event of damage. This usually corresponds to the amount of the agreed deposit and varies between rental car providers. In part, the deductible can also be significantly higher than your deposit. What does that mean? Take always a look at the rental conditions!

Here is an example: Lets say you have caused a significant amount of damage to your rental car, such that the costs of repairing the car exceed the market value of it (i.e. a total damage), then some rental car providers require you to pay up to 2.500 USD (or even more), which also includes your deposit of, say, 500 USD.

Look at the insurance coverage in the terms and conditions of your CDW. The amount of self-participation can be between 300 USD and 2,500 USD.

CDW without self-participation

If you book a car without self-participation, then you don't have to pay anything, even if the car gets completely damaged.

Please note: Even if you have booked an offer without self-participation, you have to provide a deposit. Similar to insurances with self-participation, this is initially withheld by the rental car company. After you return the rental car, your deposit will be completely refunded.

Car rental without self-participation is profitable

In Canada and the United States, CDW without self-participation has long been the standard car insurance. In Europe you still have the choice between offers with or without self-participation.

However, we recommend to always book a rental car without self-participation regardless of the place. This is the only way to ensure optimal insurance protection and save any expensive additional insurances, that rental car companies would try to sell you in front of the counter.

A CDW without self-participation can be added directly online at the time of your reservation. And that can be cheaper than adding CDW later on.

For an extra charge of 12% of the regular offer, you will get the best insurance coverage for your car without self-participation. The exact prices vary from country to country. The best offers without self-participation are available for Switzerland. The extra charge is about 3.7% of the regular offer. If you want to have CDW without self-participation in Ireland, you have to pay 18.4% extra.

A concrete example: For a Toyota Yaris you pay on Gran Canaria about 145 USD per week including CDW with self-participation. If you book the same car without self-participation, you only pay 7 USD more - an extra charge that is definitely worth it.

Extra charge for car hire without self-participation in European countries

Here are the extra charges you have to pay for a CDW without self-participation in selected european countries.

Great Britain+10.5%

As you can see, the extra charge you have to pay for CDW without self-participation can vary a lot. But even if you are from Germany or Ireland, we still recommend to pay the extra money, so you have a peace of mind.

Drive safe!

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  1. Image of a car crash by Pixabay, hosted under the Pixabay Licence ↩︎

  2. Image by cheapfullcoverageautoinsurance.com, hosted under CC BY 4.0 ↩︎