A car rental report released this month by Post Office Travel Money reveals that most UK motorists risk charges for holiday crashes and car theft in Europe. This is because they have not taken out excess waiver insurance. If they have an accident in a hire car or the car is stolen, they could be required to pay more than £1,000.
If you pay only the basic car hire rental charge, then you can be liable to massive excesses if something goes wrong, yet 63% of UK motorists do not take out any excess waiver insurance and 79% failed to get cover for tyre, undercarriage and window damage.
Excess charges in Turkey and Bulgaria are about £400, but they can be over £1,000 in Switzerland and Ireland, with other European countries somewhere between.
It is also very difficult to dispute how much you should pay as an excess charge when the hire company has your credit card details and you are probably rushing off to catch a flight!
So what is the answer? Well, you can take out excess waivers locally when you pick up the hire car. However, Post Office Travel Money found that this could add hundreds of pounds to your hire costs. In Spain, Italy and Ireland the excess waiver charges can come to more than the cost of hiring the car. For example, on the Costa del Sol, full waiver added an extra £152 to a week’s basic car rental package of £124. Once again charges in Turkey are much lower at about £35 a week.
If you intend to hire a car in Europe then see my Road Travel Tips which cover aspects such as Fuel Prices, Motorway Tolls and Sat Navs in Europe, as well as the following Car Hire tips:
• If I want to hire a car, rather than check through lots of different car hire sites, I use Auto Europe and Economy Car Hire/Zest Car Rental to research the deals on offer. For a comparison between different car hire brokers, see: Auto Europe vs Economy Car Hire vs Holiday Autos.
• To avoid the problems mentioned above with excess charges, I then buy fully refundable Car Hire Excess Insurance from carhireexcess.com. This costs about £2 a day in Europe, or about £40 for a year, and includes cover for tyres, undercarriage and windows. Worldwide cover can also be purchased. Seniors will be pleased to note that this excess insurance is available at no extra charge to anyone up to 84 years old.
• As an alternative, Holiday Autos allows you to purchase an excess waiver which includes tyres, undercarriage and windows when booking a car, but obviously the overall car rental charges rise to reflect this.
Getting yourself fully covered when hiring cars in Europe may cost a bit more, but that is a small price to pay for peace of mind when driving in what might be an unfamiliar country, and it may save you thousands!