Car hire companies are not giving accurate descriptions of existing damage on hire cars, according to a new YouGov survey, commissioned by, a leading provider of stand-alone excess car hire insurance.

Over one in five people (21%) said that they had found damage on their hire car which was not highlighted on the collection check-out sheet. Any damage incurred to a hire car, even if the car is stolen or scratched in a car park, can lead to the hirer having to pay the first part of an insurance claim, up to the excess amount, which can be as much as £2000 (e.g. if hiring a VW Golf with Hertz in Faro in summer 2013 – see Table 1). “When you pick up a hire car check it over as thoroughly as you would if you were buying it,” said Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of “Note down any damage, no matter how small, on your rental agreement. Most people expect the wheels, for example, to have a couple of minor scrapes from general wear and tear and don’t imagine that this would be picked up as ‘damage’ on a pre-car check, however we see plenty of people getting charged for minor wheel damage or scratches on the bumper which they’re pretty sure they didn’t cause but which weren’t identified on the check out sheet when they collected the vehicle. It’s a bit of an open goal for the rental company really.”

Stand alone excess insurance can be purchased in advance of travel and it does not have to be purchased from the rental company. A holiday-maker going to Faro this summer could be paying up to £16 a day (or £25 a day to include tyre and windscreen excess as well) for a car hire excess insurance waiver bought from the rental desk, compared with an policy from £2.99 a day - over five times cheaper. “When even a small scratch on the paintwork can cost hundreds to fix make sure you protect yourself against not only damage which isn’t your fault but any potential damage by purchasing a separate car hire excess insurance policy before you fly,” said Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of policies also cover vulnerable parts of the vehicle, including windows, tyres, windscreen and the undercarriage, which the rental companies usually exclude.iCarhireinsurance’s

Top Five Essential Car Hire Check List

  • Check your vehicle – Check the vehicle carefully before you drive away for any damage, paying particular attention to the low parts of the vehicle, such as wheels (including checking the tread & depth on the tyres), bumpers and door sills and also don’t forget to look at the roof. Make sure any damage is properly recorded on the rental agreement and take photos on your mobile phone if you’re concerned.
  • Always buy excess insurance in advance of travel and not from the car hire company. This could save you up to 80% (see Table 1) and is also likely to provide you with better protection as it includes re-imbursement for damage to areas like wheels and tyres which are usually excluded from rental companies’ own excess waivers.
  • Read the small print: It’s essential that you know the terms and conditions of the hire policy. Some companies now operate a return fuel-empty policy for instance.
  • Return the car in acceptable state: Give the car a quick once over inside before you return it as some companies are starting to charge a cleaning charge if they consider the car to be in an unacceptable state.
  • Returning the Car: Also allow plenty of time when returning your vehicle, to allow it to be inspected by a rental company employee. Ensure that a representative signs off the drop-off.

Table 1: Excess Insurance cost to rent a VW Golf class car from Faro for a 7 day period from 10-17 June 2013.

  Car Rental Rate Starting Excess Value Excess Insurance/Waiver Costs to £0 Cost of Excess Waiver per day Tyre and Windscreen Excess  
  Avis £254.51 £1,783.02 £111.02 £15.86 £9.10
Budget £153.24 £1,230 £71.12 £10.16 Location  
Hertz £230.75 £2,048 £89.52 £12.79 Included  
Sixt £195.88 £1,653 £87.71 £12.53 £32.90  
Average Cost £208.60 £1,678.51 £89.84 £12.83
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.