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Beating The Car Hire Cowboys

From the desk of Managing Director, Kate Huet

Hiring a car on holiday gives you the freedom to travel to the places you want to visit, at a time when you want to travel. Everyone needs to be aware though of the up-sell and fear-sell that will meet you when you arrive to pick up your hire car. Especially if you have booked online – which most people do, simply because it is so much cheaper to book ahead and not just turn up on the day. Online deals can be as much as £30 a day cheaper than walk-in rates.

Car Hire Excess Insurance purchased before you travel will save you around 90% compared to the cost of Excess insurance your car hire firm will offer you.

Typically you can expect to pay around £150/w if buying when you pick up your car, but if included within your onestop4 travel insurance policy as an optional extra cover, it will cost you £3 a day for all European destinations and be discounted to £2.25 if you buy your policy online.

Onestop4: Annual Travel Policies can also include Car Hire Excess insurance. Bundling an insurance of this type into another insurance is usually by far the cheapest way of purchasing this extra protection, because there are no extra administration costs associated with the purchase.

This insurance will cover the costs you may face if your hire car gets damaged whilst in your care.

There are other benefits too of buying at home before you travel from a UK insurer – should you need to make a claim, you will be dealing with people who speak your language and are locally based.


So how does this work?

On arrival at the desk when you collect your hire car, tell them you don’t want cover. They will ask for a credit (not debit) card deposit, which they will take if your hire car gets damaged – you can then claim this back from your Car Hire Excess Insurance section of cover within your travel policy. We cover up to £6000 of damage. Do not be persuaded that the Car Hire Excess insurance you pre-bought is worthless – this is a well-used tactic and I’m afraid just another ploy to convince you to buy their policy. In the last few years I have hired cars three times and on one occasion (Marseille airport) I faced this sort of tactic. You just have to be firm and friendly and say non-merci.

A few extra tips:

- Return empty is not always a good deal if you are not driving far, you won’t use the full tank you have paid for, so it's usually better to opt for return full.

- On your way out of the car park, check where the nearest fuel station is and make a beeline for that immediately before you return your car. Plan to give yourself enough time to refuel.

- Take pics of the car on your mobile phone before you drive off and on your return of the vehicle. Too many unscrupulous firms will claim you caused damage so have evidence to prove you didn’t. If you did damage the car, even more reason to take pictures because they will charge many times more than the real repair bill – and may not even undertake the repair.

- If on return you are using a ‘key drop’ facility, that’s even more reason to take pictures, because no-one will check your car at the point you return it.

- Keep an eye on your credit card statement – very often the first time anyone is aware of unscrupulous practice is when the card is debited. If this happens to you, contact our claim handlers immediately to notify a claim.

What should be a really enjoyable part of any holiday, can turn into a nightmare because of these firms’ poor practice and dishonesty – it’s really worth getting this cover before you travel and saving both money and heartache.

Wishing you happy and safe travelling