Survey highlights rising costs of car hire abroad

With the peak summer holiday time fast approaching, a timely recent survey conducted by AA Travel Insurance found that 12 per cent of motorists have reported an increase in the cost of car hire this year.

Prices varied dramatically between car hire companies, location and season with July and August significantly more expensive. It was also found that a pre-paid desired model was not guaranteed.

Car hire companies have highlighted a number of fleet shortages across the board and urge motorists to book early to avoid disappointment.

Excess charges

A car hire agreement generally covers collision damage waiver and theft. However, in most agreements the hirer is still liable for the first portion of the repair or replacement costs (the excess ). A high excess can apply to a small scratch on a car, a chip in a windscreen, and damage to tyres or mirrors.

Excess amounts usually run into several hundreds of euro and in some cases for larger cars can be in excess of €1,000. It may be well worth the extra money.

Typically, however, the cost for Super CDW cover offered by the car hire companies is high. Some insurers offer Super CDW policies that are personal to the insured person rather than to the vehicle.

If you plan to hire a car for more than a few days, or if you frequently hire a car during the year, this form of Super CDW cover may be more cost effective for you than taking the hire company’s Super CDW insurance for the duration of an individual hire.

Excess fees range from €600 to €2,500 per week depending on the model of the car and chosen destination. Motorists need to be aware that charges below exclude personal accident insurance. Often motorists end up paying additional costs for personal accident insurance (ranging from €30 to €70 ), supplementary liability protection (€50-€80 ), super collision damage waiver (up to €100 ), super loss damage waiver (€80-€130 ), and super personal accident insurance (up to €127 ). These additions significantly drive up the cost of car rental.

Additional requirements

Surcharges for additional items vary enormously from company to company and between destinations. This is what can drive up the cost of car hire abroad.

In a number of cases, prices are not confirmed until pick up. In the case of the US, additional charges are not available on the website and instructions are left to revert to reservations staff.

•GPS - GPS charges varied from €50-€110.

• Child seats - The cost of child seats was up to three times the cost in some regions varying from €28 to €83. Baby booster seats also varied significantly between €10 and €70.

•Young driver surplus charges - Young driver charges (under 25s ) ranged from €83 to €230.

•Second driver surcharges - If you are planning to add a second driver this could have a big impact on the cost of car hire. To add an additional driver costs between €30 and €80. If it’s manageable in terms of how you plan to use the car during your trip, have only one nominated driver.

Take the following example. A week in Malaga in July using a medium-sized car will on average cost €499 on booking. This figure doubles when you include GPS, a child seat, additional driver and personal accident insurance to just under €1,000.

Check out the additional charges for each of the above when comparing car hire offers so that you have a fuller and more realistic understanding of the “all inclusive” price before you set about making a final decision.

The AA offers the following advice when booking car hire

•Use overseas websites to compare prices. If you're booking from an overseas site, always pay in their currency.

•When looking for the best bargain, bear in mind that very often prices quoted online only contain the basics, so make sure you check what is included in the final quote and what is not. Pay special attention to airport and other location related surcharges as well as the insurance coverage.

•Always check the cost of extras that you will need during your rental: child seat, additional driver, extra insurance etc.

• Pay special attention to the fuel policy and make sure it is explained to you clearly before you confirm the booking. This is a major moneyspinner for some car hire companies, as the litre charge for fuel when topped up by the hire company is typically far in excess of that at the nearby petrol station.

•Haggle with individual branches.

• Check your credit card or bank statement when you get back to make sure no extra charges have been added to your bill without your knowledge and ensure you have had your full deposit back. Look for online vouchers.

•Ask for a copy of the terms and conditions of car hire upon booking as not all hire companies apply a mileage restriction. But where they do, the additional cost per kilometre or mile can add up considerably if you are covering long distances. Ensure the requested insurance cover is documented. Ask specifically if the car provided will be fully equipped to meet all the legal requirements of the country being visited and have a breakdown number at hand.


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