Beware of car rental excess insurance, warns BVRLA
So says the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), which is warning that such insurance is very different from the no-risk cover offered by car hire companies.
The association’s warning comes in response to the high-profile marketing campaigns launched by a number of car rental insurance brokers, which claim to provide a cheaper alternative to the excess waivers offered by hire companies.
The traditional excess waiver offered by car rental companies enables customers to reduce their liability to a set amount or eliminate it entirely. Unlike an insurance product, it offers a no-quibble, hassle-free guarantee that the customer will not have to pay any extra costs in the event of an accident, theft or act of vandalism.
Customers taking out a third-party policy are buying insurance. In the event of an incident, they will have to pay the excess fee charged by their rental company and then try to claim it back from their insurer.
‘Claiming on a third-party excess waiver insurance policy takes time and a lot of paperwork, and even then people should be aware that their claim may not be successful,’ said BVRLA chief executive, John Lewis.
‘It can leave people short-changed due to exchange rate differences or even simple deficiencies in paper work.
‘These third-party policies also have extensive terms and conditions with some surprising clauses that could see people not having the cover they expected.’
Examples of such clauses include where customers are not covered where a rental vehicle is hired within 150km of their usual place of residence or where customers are not covered for “losses occurring from driving whilst not on a Public Highway”, for example a car park.
The BVRLA also refuted claims that the car hire industry is “pressure selling” its excess waivers by offering them at the rental desk.
‘Customers need to recognise that hiring a vehicle is not like booking a hotel room or buying an airplane ticket – they are taking responsibility for an asset worth many thousands of pounds,’ said Lewis.
‘It would be irresponsible not to double-check before a rental begins that the customer is comfortable with the level of risk cover they have chosen.’