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Driving a hire car in Europe could cost risk-takers hundreds of pounds for holiday prangs

Press Release   •   Aug 06, 2013 23:00 BST

- 63 per cent of motorists driving a hire car in Europe risk charges for holiday crashes.
- Drivers without excess waiver insurance could pay up to £1,186 if they have an accident or the car is stolen – according to
- Post Office® Car Rental Report.
- Rental cost doubles when extras are added in Spanish destinations.
- European extras cheapest in the Marmaris region of Turkey.
- Driving a hire car costs least in Florida, Bulgaria and Malta.

Holidaymakers who hire cars to drive in Europe face charges of up to £1,186 if they have not taken out insurance cover that reduces the excess payable for accidents or theft to zero1. Yet the Post Office Travel Money Car Rental Report found that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of holidaymakers who hired a car to drive overseas paid only the basic rental charge and failed to take out excess waiver insurance (EWI)2.

The Post Office researched excess charges in 19 European holiday destinations and found these were lowest in Turkey (£400) and Bulgaria (£404). However, the cost could escalate to more than double this amount. The excess charges levied in Italy were £842, while in Norway holiday motorists could face costs of £893 and in Portugal of £961. Risk-takers without EWI could pay up to £1,064 in Switzerland and even more, £1,186, in Ireland if their car was damaged or stolen.

Even more of the holiday motorists questioned – almost four-in-five (79 per cent) – failed to take out insurance cover for tyre, undercarriage and window damage, and therefore also faced paying hundreds of pounds in excess charges.

However, the Post Office found that paying for that extra cover when picking up a hire car from airports in holiday regions could also add hundreds of pounds to rental costs. For example, the cost of including EWI and tyre, undercarriage and window damage insurance adds £152 to a week’s basic car rental package of £124 in Spain’s Costa del Sol while the charge for an additional driver adds another £41.

The Costa del Sol was one of six destinations where rental costs doubled when extras were added. The others were the Costa Blanca, Tenerife, Majorca, Larnaca and Dublin. Car hire extras cost least in the Marmaris region of Turkey – around £35 for EWI and £19 for an additional driver – but were almost four times as pricey when picking up a car from Pisa Airport in Italy (£205)3.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Car hire costs can go through the roof when extras are added so it is understandable that many motorists go for the cheapest rate offered when booking online. It can also be very difficult to find out the cost of Excess Waiver Insurance before travel and it is only when collecting the car that what seemed a cheap deal becomes a very expensive one.

“However, the consequence of not paying for the extra insurance could be a much higher bill if you have an accident or if another driver hits your car and leaves without giving his details. There is an easy solution to this because you can buy an insurance policy before leaving home for a fraction of the cost of EWI. The lowest cost we found was around £14 for a week’s insurance compared with an average of almost £102 for EWI in Europe4.

“In many cases drivers must pay for car hire extras when they collect their rental car, so it makes sense to carry enough foreign currency to cover this – rather than incur charges for paying on plastic.”

In contrast to Europe, EWI is included in all US car hire packages, which means that families visiting Florida this summer and collecting their car from Orlando airport need pay no extra.

To find the best value holiday car rental destinations, the Post Office combined the cost of a week’s basic hire with two extras payable on arrival (EWI and additional driver) and the price of a tank of unleaded petrol (40 litres). As a result of its’ ‘no charge’ policy for EWI, car rental in Florida was cheapest of 20 destinations surveyed (around £165). The cost was almost a third (32 per cent) less than in the lowest-priced European destination, Bulgaria, where a week’s car rental from Burgas Airport cost £242 including fuel and the two extras.

Malta also emerged as good value at around £255 for a week’s car hire from Luqa Airport and fuel, with Corfu (£304) and Crete (£305) in fourth and fifth positions. The cost of extras meant that Tenerife dropped from the top spot for basic car hire to sixth place when these were added (£307) – but was still cheapest of four Spanish destinations surveyed. The most expensive destinations in the survey were Switzerland (£465 – pick up from Geneva Airport), Italy (£491 – pick up from Pisa Airport) and Norway (£520 – pick up from Oslo Airport).

Currencies for the Car Rental Report destinations surveyed are among 25 available on demand at 1,600 larger Post Office branches, while over 4,000 branches offer US dollars and Turkish lira and 10,000 offer euro over the counter. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery.

1Post Office desk research established that the average amount payable in the event of accidental damage or theft without excess waiver insurance (based on prices researched for Avis, Europcar and Hertz) was:

Florida

£0

Turkey

£400

Bulgaria

£404

Austria

£471

Croatia

£479

Spain (Majorca)

£548

Spain (Costa Blanca)

£548

Spain (Costa Del Sol)

£550

Greece (Crete)

£555

Greece (Corfu)

£562

Denmark

£595

Cyprus

£623

Spain (Tenerife)

£637

Malta

£725

France

£777

Italy

£842

Norway

£893

Portugal

£961

Switzerland

£1,064

Ireland

£1,186

All figures rounded up/down to nearest pound

2Source: Omnibus research conducted for Post Office Travel Money by Populus (12-14 April 2013) found that 63 per cent of those questioned who had hired a car abroad (599 of 957 respondents) did not pay for excess waiver insurance offering £0 to pay in the event of an accident, damage to the car or theft. Even more survey respondents – 79 per cent (758) – failed to take out insurance cover for tyre, undercarriage and window damage, and therefore also faced excess charges.

3The Post Office Holiday Car Rental Report was compiled using an average of prices for one week’s basic car hire (paid in advance) in Europe and Florida together with the cost of two extras payable when collecting the car from an airport (costs researched through Avis, Europcar and Hertz), and 40 litres of unleaded petrol. Figures in brackets in the basic car hire column denote positions for destinations based on the cost of one week’s basic car hire, without extras or fuel. Unleaded petrol prices sourced from fuel-prices-europe.info, except Tenerife (TCS Europa) and USA (gasbuddy.com).

Destination

Total Cost

Basic car hire (Advance)

Excess Waiver Insurance

Additional Driver

40 litres unleaded petrol

Florida (Orlando)

£164.69

£138.80 (8)

£0

£4.69

£21.20

Bulgaria (Burgas)

£242.09

£121.74 (6)

£51.49

£20.46

£48.40

Malta (Luga)

£255.49

£113.78 (2)

£54.92

£34.39

£52.40

Greece (Corfu)

£303.66

£140.97 (9)

£66.47

£35.42

£60.80

Greece (Crete)

£305.00

£146.06 (10)

£63.13

£35.01

£60.80

Spain (Tenerife)

£306.83

£109.93 (1)

£122.46

£35.24

£39.20

Ireland (Dublin)

£332.84

£116.79 (3)

£100.24

£59.01

£56.80

Turkey (Marmaris)

£339.31

£214.18 (15)

£34.83

£19.10

£71.20

Spain (Costa Blanca)

£342.66

£120.25 (4=)

£128.28

£41.33

£52.80

Cyrpus (Larnaca)

£362.29

£154.75 (11)

£134.86

£23.48

£49.20

Spain (Costa Del Sol)

£370.35

£124.28 (7)

£151.94

£41.33

£52.80

Spain (Majorca)

£377.36

£120.25 (4=)

£122.98

£41.33

£52.80

Portugal (Faro)

£391.85

£183.73 (12)

£97.90

£50.62

£59.60

Denmark (Copenhagen)

£392.10

£213.38 (14)

£81.34

£32.58

£64.80

France (Nice)

£403.15

£188.03 (13)

£115.17

£39.55

£60.40

Austria (Salzburg)

£405.37

£228.47 (17)

£88.01

£38.89

£50.00

Croatia (Split)

£429.85

£236.24 (19)

£104.27

£39.74

£49.60

Switzerland (Geneva)

£464.68

£229.77 (18)

£115.42

£68.29

£51.20

Italy (Pisa)

£491.21

£222.92 (16)

£148.15

£56.94

£63.20

Norway (Oslo)

£520.40

£271.30 (20)

£150.40

£26.70

£72.00

Figures in brackets refer to the airports where hire cars are collected

4One week’s daily excess cover costs £13.93 through carhirewaiverxs.com while similar policies through icarhireinsurance.com and insurance4carhire.com cost £20.93 and £27.93 respectively. The average cost of EWI in Europe was found by Post Office

Contact - Gabrielle O’Gara

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