Families jetting off this half term could find themselves forking up to £190 for car insurance policies worth just £30 when they arrive at their destination.
Car hire companies have been accused of ripping off customers by charging customers up to seven times the rate of basic car insurance for a week’s cover.
Research from travel comparison website TravelSupermarket found that some car hire rental companies are charging £190 for a policy that covers against damage and theft for eight days - 579% more than stand-alone policies available online.
TravelSupermarket says it is a “scandal” that car hire companies are charging these excessive amounts for excess waiver policies at the desk when people arrive to pick up their car.
Emma Coulthurst, consumer advocate at TravelSupermarket, says: “It is not an accident that these policies tend not to be able to be purchased on the car hire companies’ websites but have to be bought on arrival.
“The lack of transparency suggests that the companies are wanting you to not compare policies before your trip but be sold the policies at extortionate amounts, once you’ve arrived tired from your journey and are a captive audience.”
If you have an accident driving when you are abroad, you usually have to pay an excess towards the cost of the repair, which can be anything between £500 up to £2,000.
Excess waiver policies can reduce this amount to zero and are available online for as little as £3.49 per day.
TravelSupermarket compared the costs of insurance from the major car hire rental companies with the cheapest stand-alone policy online.
|Cost of car insurance policies from car hire firms compared to standard policies|
|Airport pick up location||Car hire cost purchased from rental company website||Excess waiver cost for eight days||Specialist stand-alone policy for eight days||Price difference|
|Barcelona El Prat airport||£253.47||£189.93||£27.96||£161.97|
|Paphos Airport, Cyprus||£195.16||£174.68||£27.96||£146.72|
It found that damage and theft excess cover at the Hertz pick-up desk for a Seat Leon would cost £189.93 to insure at Barcelona El Prat airport even though rental costs were £253.47. This is seven times as much a stand-alone policy at £27.96.
At Alicante airport in Spain, Avis charged £175.88 to insure the same car, £146.72 more than the specialist policy and nearly as much the £183 to hire it.
Cover with Budget at Palma airport in Majorca costs £180 for eight days’ cover, £152.04 more than a standard policy online.
The research also found that in every case the car hire companies charged extra for tyre and windscreen excess cover whereas the stand-alone policy included it.
An Avis Budget UK spokesperson says: “Customer service and transparency of fees is of paramount importance to us. We provide standard cover with all rentals, as well as the optional choice of additional cover that reduces excess and gives our customers peace of mind during the rental experience.
“Customers are always welcome to use their own providers if they so wish. In addition, for complete transparency, we encourage all customers to review items and charges highlighted in the contract before signing, and to ask our highly trained rental agents if they have any questions.”
Hertz has been contacted for comment.