Hiring a medium compact car with Hertz from Geneva, gateway to the Three Valleys and the world-class Swiss resorts, for instance, costs £440 for the week’s hire (27 Dec to 3 Jan), then at the rental desk ‘extras’ could add on an additional £405, i.e., £71 for an extra driver (£112 if they’re under 21 yrs), £137 for excess car hire insurance, a sat nav for £102, snow chains costing £48 and a child’s car seat for £47.
iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, researched the six popular ski gateways of Geneva, Turin, Innsbruck, Barcelona, Sophia (Bulgaria) and Inverness to find out the hidden extras when picking up your hire car and how much this could add to a traveller’s final bill. (NB. The hire companies of Avis, Sixt, Europcar and Hertz were researched for the hire of a medium compact car from 27 Dec 2012 to 3 Jan 2013.)
Cheapest for car hire: Sophia is the best for a bargain where the average car hire cost, across the four rental companies, is only £154, but ‘extras’ at the rental desk will double this. For example, hiring from Sixt there’s a compulsory charge of £14 for snow chains, an extra driver costs £27, a child’s car seat is £27, a sat nav is £57 and excess car hire insurance (to protect a customer against the first part of any insurance claim) is £64 for the week – adding £189 to the original hire cost and making a total week’s hire cost of £343.
The same pattern could be seen in the other destinations, with the average price of car hire costing £275 in Barcelona, £290 in Innsbruck, £314 in Inverness, £336 in Turin and £403 in Geneva.
“We would like to see all hire car companies provide total transparency at the time of booking,” said Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com. “But what we get instead is a complexity of costs at the rental desk which are as hard to navigate as a black run. To keep costs down we advise car hirers to keep extra drivers to a minimum, know the country’s rules regarding snow chains and winter tyres, always take their own sat nav and finally always buy their excess car hire insurance before they fly and put their savings towards some well earned après-ski.“
Car hire insurance: Often the single largest cost at the rental desk, which can be significantly reduced if bought in advance from a specialist provider. Without excess insurance a customer could be liable for charges of up to £2300 (e.g. the excess amount in Turin with Europcar) if the hire car is damaged or stolen, even if it’s not the hirer’s fault.
Turin is the most expensive place to purchase excess insurance, costing £185 from Hertz – this is over eight times the cost of an iCarhireinsurance.com policy at £21 for the week (or £2.99 a day), which includes vulnerable parts of the vehicle, like the tyres and windscreen, which are frequently excluded from the rental companies’ policies.
Snow Chains: Expect to pay up to £50 for snow chains, although a traveller hiring from Barcelona with Avis could be looking at a £75 bill to drive in the Pyrenees. NB. Sixt make snow chains a compulsory cost in the destinations of Geneva, Sophia, Innsbruck and Turin. Travellers need to make sure they know the rules and regulations of the country they’re hiring in, otherwise they (and not the rental company) could face a fine.
Extra Drivers: This can add significantly to a bill but is often a necessity for a skiing group. The most expensive place to pay for an extra driver was Inverness, where travellers would pay around £80 for each extra driver, rising to £227 with Europcar for a driver under 25 yrs. Bulgaria and Innsbruck are the cheapest places for this cost with an extra driver adding around £30 to the final bill.
Sat Navs: The cost of hiring a sat nav is beginning to hit the £100 mark in some destinations. For instance, in Inverness Europcar charges £97 for the week’s hire, while Hertz charges £102 in Geneva. Remember to take your own or beg or borrow one!