Don’t get spooked by the scare tactics at the car hire desk!
We take the fear out of choosing your car hire insurance
For many people the most worrying aspect of booking a hire car is what you might face when you turn up at the desk to collect your car. Horror stories of holidaymakers being intimidated into buying extra insurance are often circulating on the internet. We help you understand the methods that may be used so you need not be afraid.
Some companies can use quite high pressure sales patter to encourage customers to buy their in-house insurance. This is generally restricted to budget companies where the headline hire price is very low. Avoid these companies and you are far less likely to be met with this approach. At Clarify we will alert our user to the fact that you might face a challenge at the desk when we describe the firm - so you do get a heads up!
However at Clarify we do want our users to be able to understand exactly what their choices are and to be able to make an informed decision before they book. Making your decision at this stage means you are well placed to understand exactly what your options are at the desk and to understand what is being said to you.
Insurance can be confusing - but in a nutshell let's compare car hire cover to your normal fully comprehensive car insurance policy.
Fully Comprehensive Car Insurance
Covers you for damage to your car and other parties, and insures you if the car is stolen. Does not cover you for loss or damage to the wheels and tyres, and glass damage tends to be covered under a separate policy. Most policies have an excess of £250 or less. As it's your car you can decide whether a small scratch or dent is worth repairing and, if so, whether you take it to a main dealer or a dent repairer who might charge a fraction of the cost.
Car Hire Collision Damage Waiver, Theft Protection and Third Party Insurance
Means you are not liable for damage to your car or if the car is stolen. Provides cover if you are involved in an 'at fault' accident. Does not normally cover you for loss or damage to the wheels and tyres, glass, underbody or roof. Most policies have an excess of between £750 and £3000. The car hire company have sole discretion to decide if any damage needs repairing, and how much that will cost.
Neither will cover you for areas such as putting the wrong type of fuel in the tank, or losing or locking the keys in a car.
So what are your options?
Rely on the basic insurance supplied with your car, and pay up if the unfortunate happens. Due to the potentially holiday ruining bill you could get with this option it is maybe not surprising that few Clarify users (who are, it is true to say, a canny lot) go down this route. In the past three months only 5% of our hirers decided to bear the risk themselves.
Buy a Premium or Super Collision Damage Waiver product from your car hire firm. This is the no worry option and means that, if there is damage to your car, you walk away from it at the end of the rental and leave the car hire company to clear up after you! It's more expensive but really appeals to those who are risk-averse. Also buying this cover often means leaving a lower or even no deposit when you collect the car. Some companies will allow a debit card to be used if you purchase their excess insurance. Cover differs from firm to firm, so check out what you will be covered for. About 22% of our users last quarter decided this was the best option for them.
Buy an Excess Reimbursement policy (Clarify offer you this option after you have chosen your car.) This means you accept responsibility for the damage as in option 1, but do so in the knowledge that, if you do get a bill for damage, you can send a claim off to your Excess Insurer and will be reimbursed about 10 days later. Items such as lost keys and misfuelling will be covered as will damage to the underbody, roof, tyres and glass. Around 73% of customers opted for this option during the quarter.
5% of users actually buy option 2 and option 3 - wanting to pay a lower deposit and use a debit card, but also wanting to be covered for the items that would not be covered by the hire firm.
Some points we should make clear....
You will still be liable for the excess unless you take out the local firm's insurance
Whether you have decided to buy a third party excess reimbursement policy or not you will be responsible for the excess. Some excess levels are high, particularly in countries such as Italy and Ireland, and in almost all cases this amount (or a lower deposit) will be blocked on your credit card unless you purchase the car hire company’s waiver. If you are told at the desk that you are liable because you are choosing not to buy their extra cover - they are totally correct.
Ignore it if you are told 'You must buy their insurance'
If you have used Clarify you can stand firm. You are not obligated to buy extra insurance unless we have included it already in your package. This would be because in certain circumstances, such as a debit card being used or the driver's age, it can mean the hire company insist their insurance is purchased. With Clarify we would have offered you a special package that would have made it clear that the premium insurance would be part of the package, and included it already in the price breakdown.
You are told 'We don’t accept independent excess insurance'
This is a completely true, but doesn't matter. Excess insurance is a personal reimbursement policy that covers the driver of the car and NOT the car. It has nothing to do with the car hire company and therefore they do not need to accept it.
Some people may prefer to opt for the car hire company’s own insurance. If you want to avoid a block on your credit card, for example, or if you would rather that any damage costs were dealt with directly by the car hire company you may decide you would rather pay more for the in-house excess waiver.
Clarify Car Hire displays both the car hire company’s waiver option and independent excess insurance so customers can make a decision based on their own needs and circumstances but, if you would like any assistance in making your choice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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