Collision Damage Waiver: All Your Questions Answered

So, you’ve rented a car, decided to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver for that extra peace of mind, and you’re all set for your journey. But do you know what a CDW doesn’t cover? It’s essential to understand the fine print to avoid surprises.
collision damage waiver
Collision Damage Waiver: All Your Questions Answered
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Collision Damage Waivers to help you understand when and why you might want to consider one.
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When renting a car, whether for a vacation road trip or business travel, it’s not uncommon to be offered various insurance options at the rental counter. One of these options is the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). But what exactly is a CDW, how does it work, and is it worth the cost? 

What Is a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)?

A Collision Damage Waiver, often called a CDW, comes under rental car insurance. It’s offered by rental car companies, covering damage to the rental car but not other people’s property. Daily rates for CDWs range from $10 to $30 for economical cars.

It is not technically insurance in the traditional sense but rather an agreement between you and the rental agency. In essence, the CDW waives the rental company’s right to claim compensation for damage to the rental car in case of an accident or collision, subject to specific terms and conditions.

How Does a CDW Work and How Much Does it Cost?

When you rent a car and opt for the CDW, you essentially transfer financial responsibility for damage to the rental car from yourself to the rental company.

If the car is damaged or involved in an accident during your rental period, the rental company will not charge you for the cost of repairs, provided you adhere to the terms and conditions of the CDW.

The cost of a CDW varies from one rental company to another and can also depend on the type of vehicle you’re renting and the location.

On average, it can add anywhere from $10 to $30 per day to your rental fee. It’s important to note that CDWs are typically optional, and you are not obligated to purchase one.

collision damage waiver

When Should You Buy a Collision Damage Waiver?

CDW is an excellent kind of financial assistance, but whether you should purchase a CDW depends on various factors, including your existing insurance coverage and your comfort level with assuming some level of risk. Here are a few scenarios where a CDW might be beneficial:

  • No Personal Auto Insurance: If you don’t have your auto insurance policy, a CDW can provide peace of mind by protecting you from potentially significant repair costs.
  • High Deductibles: If your auto insurance has a high deductible that you can’t comfortably cover out of pocket, a CDW can be a cost-effective way to reduce your financial risk.
  • Vacation or Special Occasions: If you’re renting a car for a special occasion or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, a CDW can help you relax and enjoy your trip without worrying about potential damages.

What Does a Collision Damage Waiver Cover?

While CDWs vary between rental companies and locations, they generally cover:

  • Collision Damage: This includes damage to the rental car from collisions with another vehicle or object.
  • Theft: Many CDWs also cover the theft of the rental car or its components, such as tires or stereo equipment.
  • Vandalism: Damage due to vandalism or intentional acts is typically included.

It’s essential to carefully read the terms and conditions of the specific CDW the rental company offers. CDWs usually have exclusions and limitations, such as coverage not applying if you violate the rental agreement or engage in reckless driving.

A comparison of car insurance quotes can help you get the best deal for your budget and provide the coverage you need in case of an accident. Using Beem to find the best insurance quotes can help you make the right choice.

What Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) Does Not Cover

  1. Personal Injuries: A CDW primarily focuses on damage to the rental vehicle. CDWs do not cover medical expenses for injuries sustained by you, your passengers, or the occupants of another vehicle involved in an accident. You would need to rely on your personal health insurance or a separate rental car insurance policy for personal injury coverage.
  2. Damage to Other Vehicles: While a CDW covers the rental car itself, it generally does not extend to damage caused to other vehicles involved in an accident. You would need liability insurance for this, which is typically required by law in most places when you’re driving a rented vehicle.
  3. Third-Party Property Damage: If you damage someone else’s property, such as a fence, building, or signpost, a CDW typically won’t cover the repair costs. Third-party property damage liability insurance is what you need for such situations.
  4. Reckless or Prohibited Activities: CDWs often come with specific terms and conditions. If you violate these terms or engage in reckless activities like drunk driving or off-road driving, the CDW may become void, and you will be responsible for all damages.
  5. Tire and Glass Damage: Some CDWs exclude coverage for damage to tires, wheels, and glass components like windows and windshields. You may need to purchase additional coverage for these items or rely on a separate insurance policy.
collision damage waiver

What If the Driver Damages Someone Else’s Property?

If you, as the driver, damage someone else’s property while driving a rental car, a standard CDW typically won’t cover the repair costs. In this scenario, liability insurance becomes crucial.

Liability insurance covers costs incurred through damage to other people’s property or injuries to third parties, which is why it’s often mandatory in rental car agreements.

Does Collision Damage Waiver Cover All Repair Costs?

While a CDW can significantly reduce your financial liability for damage to the rental car, it may not cover all repair costs. Here are a few considerations:

  • Deductibles: Some CDWs have deductibles, which means you are responsible for some repair costs before the CDW coverage kicks in.
  • Exclusions: Certain types of damage, such as that resulting from off-road driving or reckless behavior, may be excluded from CDW coverage.
  • Additional Coverages: To fill gaps in CDW coverage, you may opt for supplementary insurance, such as liability insurance, or coverage for specific components like tires and glass.


In conclusion, while a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) can offer valuable protection for damage to your rental car, it’s essential to understand its limitations and exclusions.

It primarily covers damage to the rental vehicle itself and may not extend to personal injuries, damage to other vehicles, third-party property damage, or certain types of reckless behavior.

To ensure comprehensive coverage for your rental car experience, consider reviewing your personal insurance policies and rental car agreements carefully, and consider additional coverage options as needed. With the proper knowledge and precautions, you can enjoy your journey confidently and with peace of mind.

You can use Beem to find the best insurance quotes to help you make the right choice. Auto insurance with Beem covers damage to your vehicle, other vehicles or property, and injuries to yourself or others. 

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Aniket Kulkarni

A seasoned Product Manager specializing in car insurance content, Aniket has a passion for simplifying complex insurance concepts. His strategic approach to content development reflects years of experience in the product development industry, coupled with a commitment to providing accurate, reliable information.


This page is purely informational. Beem does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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