If you’ve ever hired a car and not felt ripped off, congratulations! With Brits abroad paying over £400m more than they need to on car hire, few of us have escaped one of the tricks the car hire firms use to inflate the price of a rental car.
The problem is that your bargain deal on car hire can quickly turn out to be expensive if you don’t read the small print. Full to empty fuel scams and all the little extras like sat navs and travel seats all end up costing you hundreds more than you bargained for.
One of the biggest rip-offs is car hire excess insurance. Not the insurance itself which can save you thousands, but the way you can pay through the nose for the hire firm’s insurance when you can find much better deals yourself.
What is car hire excess insurance?
Car rental companies charge a far higher excess on their car insurance than you pay on your regular insurance. You can understand why – if you’re an inexperienced driver or it’s your first time driving abroad, you’re a much bigger risk than you are when driving in the UK.
To bridge the gap, you can purchase excess insurance which covers you if there is an accident. This type of insurance lets you claim back the excess you’ve paid from your policy so you’re not out of pocket.
How does it work?
It’s quite simple – if you’re charged the excess by your car rental company then you pay and then claim it back from your excess insurer. Car rental companies don’t only charge you if you have an accident – they also charge if there’s any damage to the car.
Protect yourself against unfair excess charges by videoing and photographing every inch of the rental car. Then ask a member of staff to sign off the car and note any pre-existing damage so you can dispute any unfair charges.
The excess insurance rip off
It’s obvious that buying excess insurance is a smart thing to do. It significantly reduces your risk of exposure if the worst should happen, giving you peace of mind while you drive.
The problem is that your car rental company also know what a smart purchase it is and will try to sell it to you, usually at overinflated prices. In fact, you can end up paying 10 times what you need to and those expensive daily rates can soon add up. But when you’re tired and you just want to get to your hotel then just signing on the dotted line can be tempting.
How to beat the excess scam
If you don’t want to pay through the nose then you need a specialised site such as Excess Buddy. We’ll compare many quotes to find you the car hire excess insurance policy you need for an affordable price – as little as 10p per day.
The savings are huge and you can also purchase annual as well as single trip stand-alone insurance. If you make more than one trip abroad in a year, annual insurance is a real money saver.
The credit card trap
You may not get charged for the excess, but you’ll still need enough credit on your credit card to cover it – a debit card or a prepaid card won’t be acceptable and you may end up being forced to buy expensive excess insurance anyway. Remember, you’ll need to add an amount that could run into the thousands to your overall holiday spending budget.
Your rental firm may only ring fence the deposit, but if they charge you the money in advance, you may lose out on the exchange rate. But however difficult your rental company makes it, there are still serious savings to be made if you arrange your own insurance in advance.