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Drivers warned to check hire car cancellation policies

1st April 2011 Print

With potential BA strikes on the horizon and ongoing travel disruption around the world, drivers are being urged to check the cancellation policies of hire car providers before they book, or risk paying hundreds of pounds in fees if their travel plans change., the provider of car hire excess insurance, issued its warning after a period of unprecedented disruption for travellers across the world.

With continuing unrest across North Africa and the Middle East, devastating natural disasters in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and the threat of industrial action by BA cabin crew, it is increasingly common for travel plans to be affected. However, if customers are unable to pick up their hire cars at the pre-booked time, they could be charged up to 50% of the full fee, plus a cancellation charge.

With most companies charging around £38 for a standard family car this could mean as much as £266 for a two week holiday plus administration charges of between £20 and £75. Yet a recent report by the Office of Fair Trading found that most hire car customers are not aware of a whole host of charges which are buried in the small print of vehicle rental agreements and are largely unaware of how much they may be liable for in the event that they cancel the vehicle at short notice, or fail to collect within a designated time period. Other small print liabilities highlighted in the report which customers tend not to be aware of include excess charges for theft or damage and fuel surcharges. is therefore urging drivers to look beyond the headline price when ordering their vehicle and check the small print to make sure they understand the full cost of renting the vehicle. A car costing only £20 a day may seem a great deal, but it could also have a car hire excess as high as £2000, and significant cancellation fees. On the other hand, a car costing £35 a day may have excess charges of only £500, and no cancellation fees.

Whatever the rental company’s policy, to protect consumers and provide additional peace of mind to holiday makers worried about disruption to this year’s travel plans, is offering its annual car hire excess insurance customers a vehicle cancellation policy for only £9.99 a year. It can be bought in conjunction with its £39.99 Annual European Excess, or £59.99 Annual Worldwide Excess Insurance. By combining car hire insurance with vehicle cancellation insurance drivers can take advantage of the lower cost car hire deals safe in the knowledge that they won’t be out of pocket to their rental company if their travel plans change at short notice. It has the added benefit that if drivers are stranded abroad and need their car for extra days, their excess will still be covered. 

Ernesto Suarez, Founder and CEO, said, “Given how uncertain the world is right now, travel plans often change due to unforeseen circumstances, so it has never been more important to understand cancellation policies. Unfortunately, the Office of Fair Trading recently found that most hire car customers fail to read the small print and are therefore not aware of any additional charges. With our cancellation policy you can hire a car with the peace of mind that if your holiday is ruined by strikes or delays you won’t be charged for the hire car as well.”