Hidden damages catch out thousands of motorists each year – here’s how to avoid an unexpected payout
JUST a third of drivers fully check their hire cars for damage before taking the keys leaving thousands at risk of a huge post-holiday bill.
Motorists are writing rental firms a “blank cheque” by ignoring minor scrapes and dents that were there when they collected the car but weren’t recorded.
Research by iCarhireinsurance.com found 14 per cent of rental cars have some damage that’s not highlighted on the checklist.
Items that sneak under the radar the most are scuffs to the wheels and tyres and windscreen defects.
And thousands of faultless drivers are risking having to pay for these when they hand the keys back as there’s no proof they were already there.
The report by the insurance company said six per cent of drivers had been accused of causing damage they didn’t do.
While almost one in 10 had received unexpected charges when they returned the car.
And the bill for these repairs can be as much as £2,000 if the excess hasn’t been waived.
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Drivers are being advised to check over cars with a fine toothcomb and point out defects before accepting the keys.
And extensive time-stamped photos or videos should be taken to use as evidence.
Ernesto Suarez, Founder and CEO, of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: “When you pick up a hire car it’s essential to check it over thoroughly and note every mark, no matter how insignificant on the checkout sheet, including any damage and scuffs to the wheels.
“Spending a few minutes taking photographs of the hire car at the start and end of the hire provides a lasting record of the hire car’s condition and should stop any potential disputes with hire car companies in their tracks.
How to tackle a damage claim
The first stage of contesting a damage claim made by a rental company is querying it with the firm.
This has to be done within 14 days. If there’s no satisfactory outcome, then you can move your case up to the European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS).
The ECRCS helps customers with unresolved complaints concerning cross border vehicle rentals within Europe. Companies signed up include Avis, Hertz, Europcar and Enterprise.
The service is free and disputes are normally resolved in 30 days. Decisions are based on supporting documentation from each side and the companies signed up are bound by the ruling.
Customers unhappy with the outcome are still free to pursue legal remedy through the courts even after using the ECRCS.
“We see plenty of people getting charged for minor wheel damage or scratches on the bumper which were on the car when they picked it up but unfortunately were not noted in the paperwork.
“Sadly, in the modern world of vehicle rental this can be tantamount to writing a blank cheque to the rental desk.”