When you hire a car, you’re subject to a slew of terms and conditions that sometimes seem like overkill at first glance. The idea of having a car accident on holiday is so remote -- and, let’s face it, we’d rather not think about it.
But accidents do happen, and so does damage; if someone scrapes your car while it’s parked, you’re still liable. Car hire excess payments can be astronomical, and generally expose you to more risk than the excess on your car at home.
How to Avoid Car Hire Excess Fees
You might kid yourself that you’ll drive carefully to avoid hire car damage. But the excess could be charged even if the damage to the car isn’t your fault. And some car hire companies are very strict on recovering extra money; we’ve heard of “damage” charges linked to sand being left in a footwell.
In a few rare and unfortunate cases, customers can be charged if there’s damage to the car that they didn’t notice when they collected it in the first place.
So car hire excess insurance is an essential purchase, and really the only way you can avoid paying the excess. A good car hire excess insurance policy will protect you if your car hire company spots damage on the car, whether it was your fault or not.
How Much is Car Hire Excess?
Anecdotally, you may have heard stories about car hire companies claiming the full excess from a customer for minor damage, like a paint chip. And excesses are not cheap, typically costing around £1,000 per hire -- although this can vary.
The car hire companies often claim that a small flaw will force them to respray an entire panel. Whether this actually happens is sometimes a matter for debate.
It’s important to check the fine print on your hire paperwork to find out what your excess fee is. Otherwise, if the worst happens and the hire firm tries to bill you, they might also send you over your card limit and incur extra fees from your car issuer.
Typically, your car hire company will keep your card on record so that any damage can be billed to your card when you return the car. You’ll probably agree to this when you originally sign the agreement, so take your time to read the wording before putting pen to paper.
Car Hire is Expensive Enough Without an Excess
It’s very important to understand how excess works, ensure the car is properly inspected, and -- most of all -- cover yourself in case of accidental damage or accident.
Don’t be afraid to make a video of the inspection before and after to cover yourself against damage that they claim is your fault. Some car hire companies now make their own videos for this reason.
Hire cars rarely stay in ‘brand new’ condition for long, but that doesn’t mean you should foot the bill for someone else’s carelessness. Take our car hire excess insurance before you head off on holiday to avoid a nasty shock.
*The information in this blog is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. Please seek a professional for expert advice as we can not be held responsible for any damages or negative consequences upon following this information.