Holidaymakers hiring cars in Europe risk excess charges of up to £1,489 if they have an accident or the vehicle is stolen.
One-in-seven UK tourists drive while on holiday abroad but research for Post Office Travel Money’s Holiday Car Rental Report research found that over half (55 per cent) of motorists who hire cars fail to take out ‘no excess’ insurance (Excess Waiver Insurance/EWI). And just 27 per cent cover themselves against tyre, undercarriage and window damage.
Post Office Travel Money research into the excess charges levied by rental companies in the 10 countries where UK tourists are most likely to hire cars found that holiday prangs could cost those without EWI between £586 in Cyprus (hiring from Larnaca Airport) and £1,489 in Switzerland (hiring from Geneva Airport).
Some of the other most popular countries also carry high excess charges. Renting a car from Malaga Airport in Spain and Faro Airport in Portugal means drivers stand to pay £946 and £952 respectively, while Ireland (Dublin Airport: £1,230) and Italy (Pisa Airport: £1,355) join Geneva Airport as the most expensive. In contrast to this, excess charges for rentals from Nice Airport in France and from Corfu Airport, Greece are among the lowest in the survey at £702 and £713.
Yet, the Post Office found that the combined cost of EWI and tyre, undercarriage and window insurance charged by rental companies is only a small proportion of the potential excess charge payable for damage or loss. At Corfu Airport, for example, the extra insurance costs an average of £68 – 9.5 per cent of the potential excess charge, while at Nice Airport holidaymakers can expect to pay around £75 – 10.6 per cent of the potential excess penalty.
The problem, says the Post Office, is that while attractive ‘headline’ rates offered for a week’s car rental are tempting, the cost of adding ‘no excess’ insurance and a second driver virtually doubles the price in most countries. At Palma Airport a basic £191 hire cost rises to £384.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, said: “It is understandable that many motorists opt for the cheapest rate because car rental can become expensive once Excess Waiver Insurance and other extras are added. But, the consequence of not paying for EWI insurance could be a much higher bill if you have an accident or if another driver hits your car and leaves without giving their details.”
To find the cheapest destinations for holiday car rental, Post Office Travel Money combined the cost of a week’s basic hire with two extras payable on arrival (Excess Waiver Insurance and additional driver) and a tank of unleaded petrol (40 litres). Larnaca Airport in Cyprus offered the best rates at £376. At the other end of the scale, renting a car to collect at Faro airport in the Algarve (£583) would cost 55 per cent extra.
Spain – where two-in-five (39 per cent) of holiday motorists hire cars – also looks good value at around £384 for a week’s rental from Palma Airport and £406 at Malaga Airport. So does France, where one-in-five hire cars: a week’s car hire costs £400 at Nice Airport. However, UK motorists will not fare so well when hiring a car from Berlin Airport (£512), where it costs £136 more than in Cyprus and the cost escalates to £559 at Geneva Airport.