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Monday, 19 November 2012 16:01

The Hidden Cost Howlers of Renting a Car For Skiers

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The conditions when booking a hire car for skiing are not dissimilar to the condition when skiing in a blizzard as both offer poor visibility and a lack of transparency.

Extra and often hidden charges can range from snow chains, which can cost up to £60 to hire, to a roof rack, at up to 385 to hire, and excess car hire insurance, that can add an additional £155 for a week's cover (see full figures in table below).

iCarhireinsurance.com, a specialist provider of excess car hire insurance, researched five popular ski gateways, Munich, Geneva, Chambery, Barcelona and Inverness to find out the hidden extras, from winterisation charges to excess insurance, when picking up your hire car and how much this could add to a traveller's final bill. (NB. The hire car companies of Avis, Sixt, Budget and Hertz were researched for the period of 27th Dec 2012 to 3rd Jan 2013).

Snow Chains - A Necessity in the Mountains - Cost to hire from £17 to £60.
When driving in the mountains it is essential that cars have snow chains but generally the charge for these is only given at the time of hire car collection.
  • iCarhireinsurance.com found that the cheapest place to hire snow chains from was Munich where a week's hire was from £17, whereas in Barcelona it was over three times this amount, at £60.
  • Indeed, Barcelona came out as the most expensive place to hire snow chains from, at an average price of £53 for all four companies, while in Muncih they cost an average of £28.
  • Interestingly none of the four rental companies hired out snow chains in Inverness, which is surprising considering the severe winters that the UK has experienced in recent years.
A Roof Rack - Cost to hire from £33 to £85
With skiing comes extra luggage, and hiring a roof rack is essential for many ski travellers.
 
Again, iCarhireinsurance.com found wide disparities in the prices charged with someone hiring in Munich, with Hertz, potentially facing a bill over £85, while in Chambery, gateway to the three valleys, the charge was a more reasonable £23 with Sixt.
 
Without the excess cover, car hire drivers are liable for anything up to £1500 in liability if their hire car is damaged, even if it's not their fault or indeed if the car is stolen. To stop this risk, travellers are strongly advised to purchase excess car hire insurance, preferably in advance from a specialist provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com (daily policies from £2.99) or they are faced with buying it direct from the rental desk.
 
The most expensive place to purchasee excess insurance was in Geneva where travellers will have to pay on average over £115 for a week's cover. An 82% saving can be made buying it from iCarhireinsurance.com, in advance, which also provides more comprehensive cover than most rental company policies.
 
The Hidden Cost Howlers of Renting a Car for Skiers
Once you add the winterisation change (i.e. snow chains), a roof rack and the excess insurance sprung upon travellers at the rental desk, the hidden cost howler award goes to:
  • Budget in Barcelona, where the extra costs (@£143.63) actually cost more than the original rental cost (@£139.85). An additional 102%!
Looking at the destinations and based on an average winterisation charge of £50, plus a £50 charge to hire a roof rack (using Barcelona stats), together with excess insurance the additional costs that travellers could be hit with on arrival at the rental desk are as follows:
  • Munich - there is an additional 79% payment of £189 at the rental desk. (Based on average car hire cost at £240 and average excess insurance charge at £89.34 plus £100 for snow chains/roof rack charge).
  • Barcelona - there is an additional 75% payment of £154 at the rental desk. (Based on average car hire cost at £204.40 and average excess insurance charge at £54.24 plus £100 for snow chains/roof rack charge).
  • Inverness - there is an additional 69% payment of £192 at the rental desk. (Based on average car hire cost at £277 and average excess insurance charge at £92 plus £100 snow chains/roof rack charge).
  • Geneva - there is an additional 56% payment of £215 at the rental desk. (Based on average car hire cost at £380.50 and average excess insurance charge at £115.13 plus £100 snow chains/roof rack charge).
NB. It was not possible to do a comparison for Chambery as only two out of the four rental companies operated from there during the dates specified.
 
Picking Your Ski Destination - A Final Tip
Geneva is almost twice as expensive to hire a car from than other major ski destinations including Barcelona and Munich (but this in not including winterisation charges).
 
Table 1:
Barcelona - UK residents renting a VW Golf class car in Barcelona for a week's rental from 27.12.2012 - 03.01.2013 and dropping off at the same location.
  Rental Only Cost Excess Insurance/Waiver Cost to £0 Cost of Excess Waiver per day Snow Chains Ski Rack Final Cost of Car Rental plus All Excess
Avis £220.00 £56.00 £8 £60 £60 £396
Budget £139.85 £33.50 £4.79 £55.06 £55.06 £283
Hertz £211.83 £50.82 £7.26 . £44.81 £461*
Sixt £245.92 £76.68 £10.95 £44.03 £44.03 £407.66
AVERAGE COST £204.40 £54.25 £7.75 £53 £51 £546.50
*Final cost for Hertz unknown as quote for snow chains is only attainable from location.
Table 2:
Geneva - UK resident renting a compact family car (e.g.,a VW Golf class car) in Geneva for a week's rental from 27.12.2012 - 03.01.2012 and dropping off at the same location
  Rental Only Cost Excess Insurance/Waiver Cost to £0 Cost of Excess Waiver per day Snow Chains Ski Rack Final Cost of Car Rental plus All Excess
Avis £384.61 £97.16 £13.88 - £33 £515*
Budget £425.33 £97.40 £13.91 £35.50 £35.70 £594
Hertz £314.65 £107.35 £15.33 - £39.09(max) £461*
Sixt £397.40 £158.64 £22.67 £29.82 £29.82 £616
AVERAGE COST £380.50 £115.13 £16.45 £33 £34 £546.50
*Final cost for Hertz and Avis unknown as quote for snow chains is only attainable from location.
Table 3:
Munich - UK resident renting a VW Golf class car in Munich for a week's rental from 27.12.2012 - 03.01.2012 and dropping off at the same location
  Rental Only Cost Excess Insurance/Waiver Cost to £0 Cost of Excess Waiver per day Snow Chains Ski Rack Final Cost of Car Rental plus All Excess
Avis £227.75 £79.30 £11.33 £17.30 £42 £366
Budget £218.79 £79.30 £11.33 £20.80 £50.40 £369
Hertz £202.77 £80.25 £11.46 - £85.65(max) £369*
Sixt £311.62 £118.52 £16.93 £45.64 £45.64 £521
AVERAGE COST £240 £89.34 £12.76 £28 £56 £542.87
*Final cost for Hertz and Avis unknown as quote for snow chains is only attainable from location.
Table 4:
Chambery- UK resident renting a VW Golf class car in Chambery for a week's rental from 27.12.2012 - 03.01.2012 and dropping off at the same location
  Rental Only Cost Excess Insurance/Waiver Cost to £0 Cost of Excess Waiver per day Snow Chains Ski Rack Final Cost of Car Rental plus All Excess
Avis N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A -
Budget N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A -
Hertz £356.28 £66.88 £9.55 - - -
Sixt £285.14 £85.31 £12.20 £24.01 £24.01 £430.67
AVERAGE COST £320.71 £76.09 £10.87 - - -
N/A - It was not possible to do a comparison for Chambery as only two out of the four rental companies operated from there during the dates specified.
Hertz - cost unknown as quote for snow chains is only attainable from location.
Table 5:
Inverness - UK resident renting a VW Golf class car in Inverness for a week's rental from 27.12.2012 - 03.01.2012 and dropping off at the same location
  Rental Only Cost Excess Insurance & Remaining Excess Cost of Excess Waiver per day Snow Chains Ski Rack Final Cost of Car Rental plus All Excess
Avis £199.92 £126 (£100) £18 N/A N/A -
Budget £138.71 £89.98 (£100) £12.85 N/A N/A -
Hertz £121 £124.74 £17.82 - - -
Sixt £182.95 £27.97 (£500) £3.99 N/A N/A -
AVERAGE COST £277 £92.17 £13.16 - - -
N/A - Snow chains and roof rack not available from these rental companies
Hertz - cost unknown as quote for snow chains is only attainable from location.
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