More than half (54%) of hire car drivers think rental companies often charge customers for damage, which was already on the vehicle, and nearly one in five (17%) have found damage not highlighted on the checkout sheet.
The Opinium survey of over 2,000 hire car drivers, commissioned by iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of standalone car hire excess insurance, found that this is a major concern, with nearly a quarter of hire car drivers worrying throughout their holiday about scratching or damaging the car.
However, only two thirds (64%) check the vehicle fully before driving off, and only 16% check the whole vehicle including wheels and tyres, which can be damage hotspots.
Worryingly, one in ten (12%) say that a rental company representative said it is not necessary to note down minor damage on the hire car on the checkout sheet. Not noting any existing damage leaves travellers open to being blamed for it at the end of the hire.
The good news is that more than a quarter (28%) of car hirers take photos to prove damage was already there.
It is equally important to check the car when it is returned, but one in five (20%) have returned a rental car without it being checked for damage, with almost one in five (17%) saying no staff were available to check the vehicle. Photographic evidence is crucial in this situation.
iCarhireinsurance.com’s free travel app (called iCarhire) allows hire car drivers to use its 'SNAPS' feature to take date and time stamped photographs, which are stored in the cloud, and can be used in the event of a dispute or claim with the car rental company. The app is free to all travellers and not just customers of iCarhireinsurance.com.
Damage to a hire car’s windows is one of the most common damage claims*, and the average price charged by rental companies to fix is £403. Two thirds (67%) of car hirers say they would feel angry and ripped off if they were charged this. The highest claim iCarhireinsurance.com received for windows’ damage is £1,733.
Damage to a hire car’s undercarriage is one of the most expensive repairs costing on average £688 to fix. Once again, nearly two thirds (65%) of car hirers say they would feel angry and ripped off if they were charged this. The highest claim iCarhireinsurance.com received for damage to a hire car’s undercarriage is £6,027.
Damage to tyres cost on average £224 to repair and again nearly two thirds (64%) said they would feel ripped off if they were charged this. The highest claim for tyres’ damage seen by iCarhireinsurance.com is £1,675.
Worryingly, nearly a third (30%) of hire car drivers were unaware that if their hire car is damaged or stolen, they are liable for the excess cost. The average excess is now around £2,000*, according to iCarhireinsurance.com’s annual 16 country study of car hire costs, and can be up to £6,000 in places.
Rental desks charge on average £136* for a week’s excess cover, and often sell an additional tyre and windscreen policy for on average £31*. Whereas an excess policy from a specialist insurance provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, covers damage, theft and tyre and windscreen cover, and starts from £2.99 a day for a European policy or £42.99 for an annual policy.
Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO, of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: “It’s really important that drivers take the time to check their hire car over carefully before getting behind the wheel. Small scratches might not seem important, but they can be very expensive to repair if you are accused of causing them. Taking a few minutes to take photos of the car at collection and return can save a lot of hassle.”
He continues, “Make sure you buy excess insurance from a standalone provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com, before you pick up the car. It could save you a packet, and ensure you don’t have to spend your holiday worrying about scratching or damaging the car.”* iCarhireinsurance.com looked at its claims data from summer 2018 to find out the average price of claims for different parts of a hire car.