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Why I'll never buy car hire insurance again

Read this and save 60 (or much more) on car hire costs
How many times have you booked a hire car, reckoned you've got a great deal, only to get to the counter and be stung with a
huge insurance bill often far higher than the cost of the car itself?
It's happened to me so often that on a recent trip I refused to use the car hire company's cover - and instead bought a far cheaper
standalone policy. Did it work? es! and it's why I'll never buy cover from a car hire company again.
In "une I rented an economy car in "ersey for si# days. $he car, from %uropcar, cost &'(( to hire. )efore I travelled I bought a
&*+, standalone policy from
,t "ersey airport %uropcar offered me its cover for &-(. I refused, saying I had my own policy. .ould it work?
,fter years of hiring cars with never a scrape, I nudged this car into a wall. $he wing mirror was scratched and when I returned
the vehicle %uropcar said the bill would be &'--.
I paid with a debit card making sure I kept all the documentation and then, back home, made a claim. $he claims process isn't
entirely easy. ,bout eight documents need to be scanned and submitted to icarhire's claims handlers /effectively you're doing
the filing work yourself0 and in my case some had to be resubmitted. 1everal emails were e#changed.
,bout si# weeks after the event I got the money. I'd saved &2+ and for that had to part temporarily with &'-- and send a few
emails. 1o yes, I'm sold on stand-alone hire-car cover.
The great car hire cover rip-off
3egular car hirers will know how costly insurance sold at the rental desks can be but here's a taster. $ake, for instance, a five-day
break in $enerife, collecting from the airport. Hert4 will do you an 5pel 6orsa in the second half of ,ugust for &78. 9antastic.
)ut then you're at the desk collecting the keys and the attendant says! :Do you want insurance so you won't have anything to pay
if the car's damaged? It's ;ust <*8 /&'70 per day.:
$hat's <'*( /&-20 for the si# days, so more than the cost of the car.
.hat's the worst that could happen if you don't take it? $he ma#imum you would pay is <-(( /&=*'0. $his is the first part of a
claim you must fund yourself, before the rental firm's own cover kicks in.
,nd so, torn between the certainty of paying &-2, or the risk of having to pay the much greater &=*' /even for damage that
wasn't your fault0, you opt for the former.
>ot a great start to the holiday. )ut Hert4 isn't the only firm or the worst. ,t least it spells out the costs for customers when they
5ther big-name firms pressure their customers to sign up for the cover when they collect the car, without having revealed the
costs beforehand. ,nyone booking an ,vis car to collect from an overseas destination, for e#ample, won't be shown the price of
the insurance that would reduce the e#cess when they book the information is withheld.
$he first inkling ,vis customers will have about the costs is when they pitch up at the counter. ,vis told $elegraph ?oney! :.e
are aware that additional cover charges for overseas rentals are not available when booking online. .e are working on a solution
to address this.:
$raditional, big-name car-hire firms tend to be costliest when it comes to buying cover against damage to the vehicle. $he better
the deal on the car, the more the insurance will inflate the total bill. In the Hert4 e#ample, above, the cover was ''8pc of the price
of the car.
,n e@uivalent economy-group car from )udget, a A. Bolo, at &'*+ for the same five days in $enerife later this month, would
cost <'8+ /&''20 to cover or -Cpc of the price of the car. 9or the same five days ,vis charges &'2' for a A. Bolo. ,vis said it
would charge <+( /&8(0 for the additional cover.
Car hire costs
How to cut that cost
1pecialist insurers offer stand-alone cover that will pay for damage to hire cars up to the limit of the e#cess. ,nd they are cheap.
5n the five-day $enerife trip mentioned above, for e#ample, it is possible to buy stand-alone cover for less than &'(. .ebsites
such as ? allow you to enter your hire dates and locations, and then generate a range of @uotes both for car
hire and, separately, standalone insurance policies. would cover an economy hire car for &'(.+(D for &-.-+ and for &'8.-+. $here is a choice of about eight providers all charging less
than &*( for the period in @uestion.
How could it be so cheap? $he answer, presumably, is that most drivers are careful, resulting in few claims and that the
insurance is hugely profitable for the rental firms.
)ut while the cover provided by the rental firms means there will be a no-@uibble, no-payment-re@uired process if you return a
damaged vehicle, the standalone insurance policy will mean you have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket then claim
back later. It will also mean having to make a careful inspection of the vehicle, with the car hire firm's staff, before you take the
vehicle, and keeping all paperwork which relates to the vehicle's orginal condition.
If you do damage the car, as I did, you'll need to report it and again collect an official damage report as part of the information
you'll need for your subse@uent claim from the standalone provider.
1ome holidaymakers have reported being arm-twisted into buying the hire firm's own insurance because there are no staff
available to check vehicles, for e#ample, or for other reasons. 1taff at local desks in %uropean airports are also said to make
e#aggerated statements about what could go wrong if drivers don't use the car firm's own cover.
$oby Boston of the )ritish Aehicle 3ental and Eeasing ,ssociation representing car-hire firms said! :If you use a stand alone
policy and have an accident or cause some damage, you will have to reimburse the rental company for their costs and then claim
this money back from your insurer. $his can take time, and will usually re@uire a great deal of paperwork.: