Over a third of people (34%) who have claimed on their insurance for damage to a hire car or van said the damage was not their fault.

A car park was the biggest hot spot for claims, with over a fifth (21%) of all claims made for damage to the hire vehicle whilst in a car park. And of these, over half (54%) occurred when the driver was not present or were caused by third party.

iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone excess car hire insurance, analysed its claims for a year period, from January 2012 to January 2013, and found that of those who said the damage wasn't their fault:

  • 5% had their vehicle stolen:
  • 7% had their vehicle vandalised:
  • 33% has suffered damage in a car park by a third party or when the driver wasn't present:
  • And 55% of the damage was accidental or collision/impact.

"Even the best drivers can have their car scratched by a supermarket trolley while parked in a car park," said Ernesto Suarez, CEO and founder of iCarhireinsurance.com. "The decision to buy excess insurance is not just about how good a driver you are, it's also about how bad everyone else may be! Shelling out up to £1,200* at the end of your holiday for a small prang that isn't even your fault could be a bitter pill to swallow, particularly when you can protect yourself against these sorts of charges so easily."

Buying car hire excess insurance from the rental desk can significantly add to a traveller's costs. Hiring a car in Nice, over the Easter period, from 29 March to 5 April 2013, the excess insurance offered by the car rental company could be as much as £128 (see Table 1) for the week and this excludes vulnerable parts of the vehicle getting damaged, i.e. the tyres and windscreen.

To save money, travellers are advised to purchase excess waiver insurance in advance from a specialist provider. Policies from iCarhireinsurance.com can be bought online for only £2.99 a day or £39.99 for an annual policy. It also includes cover for vulnerable parts of the vehicle, which are frequently excluded by the rental companies' policies.

*Table 1: The cost of hiring a standard family car for a week from Nice Airport, from 29 March 2013 to 5 April 2013, and dropping it off at the same location. NB 29 March is Good Friday.

Car Rental Rate Starting Excess Value Excess Insurance/Wavier Costs To Zero Costs of Excess Waiver per Day Tyre and Windscreen Excess Excess Costs as a % of the Rental
Avis £205.37 £1,112.54 £67.20 £9.60 No 33%
Budget £197.74 £800.00 £67.20 £9.60 N/A 34%
Hertz £195.13 £1,163.00 £128.00 £18.29 Not Inc. 66%
Sixt £293.27 £972.00 £30.63 £4.38 £28.59 10%*
Average Cost £222.88 £1,011.89 £73.26 £10.47 33%

*£486 Excess Liability still remains.

N.B. The booking was made on 14 January 2013.

Key Benefits of Stand-Alone Car Hire Excess Policies

  • Annual or Daily cover
  • Protect yourself against excess charges for damage and theft
  • Cover for damage to areas usually excluded by the rental company such as windscreens, tyres, roof and undercarriage.
  • European or Worldwide coverage
  • UK automatically included for UK residents
  • No distance from home restrictions
  • Cover for additional drivers named on the rental agreement.
Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.