Travellers to Europe in the coming weeks could be surprised by bumper car hire costs, research suggests.
Prices are up by an average of 60 per cent to £241 this half-term compared to the October half-term in 2019, pre-pandemic.
This equates to an extra £90 for a week long hire, according to data by iCarhireinsurance.com, a provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance.
Car hire prices for families taking a trip to Europe this October half term have risen by 60%
Larnaca, Cyprus, is the most expensive place to hire a car this autumn, averaging almost £300 for a week’s hire.
The research compared prices from six leading car hire firms including Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar, Enterprise and Hertz in the four holiday hotspots of Barcelona, Tenerife, Faro and Larnaca.
It looked at the price for hiring a medium compact car such as a VW Golf, Peugeot 308, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus, compared with the same time two years ago.
Despite Larnaca being the priciest location to pick up a hire car of the four locations, the rental companies’ prices vary considerably with Sixt charging the most at £432 whilst Hertz and Avid asked for £344 and £338, respectively.
This compares to £242 at Europcar, £224 at Budget and Enterprise coming in the cheapest at £204 – £37 below the average.
Meanwhile, the cheapest place to hire is Barcelona where the average price is £149.
Enterprise charged the least at £119 whilst Sixt was the most expensive at £161.
But customers should also consider the extra charges they may have to pay.
With Avis this includes a £149 charge for super damage waiver, £45 for additional tyre and windscreen excess and £36 for adding an extra driver.
A child’s car seat will set drivers back £51 and sat-nav an extra £72 which all comes to an additional £353 on top of the hire cost.
Motorists heading abroad are also encouraged to watch out for high starting excess values
Watch out for the excess
Hire car drivers should also watch out for high starting excess values, particularly in Faro where the Sixt excess is set at over £2,200.
Without an excess policy, travellers are responsible for the first part of any insurance claim for theft or damage, even if is not their fault.
In the study, an excess waiver policy cost £176 on average across Europe, which is slightly more than in 2019 where there was an average cost of £158.
This is also significantly more than a policy from a specialist insurance provider.
For example, iCarhireinsurance.com like other firms, charges £27.96 for a week’s policy – equivalent to £3.99 a day – which covers all the vulnerable parts of the vehicle often excluded by rental companies’ policies.
Despite Larnaca being the priciest place to rent a hire car, the rental firm’ prices vary a lot
Ernesto Suarez, founder and chief executive of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: ‘For many of us, this half term may be the first time we’re venturing abroad so make sure that you don’t pay through the nose for the privilege.
‘There are still some good deals to be had if you shop around rental providers, and don’t buy extras from the rental desk.
‘Buying your own car hire excess insurance in advance, not adding an extra driver to the policy, and bringing your own child’s car seat and sat-nav can save a travelling family a small fortune.’
Previous research from the company also found that 20 per cent of hire car drivers believe excess insurance has to be bought from the rental company whilst a further 32 per cent say they are unsure as to whether or not waiver insurance has to be bought from the rental company.
Getting excess insurance at the rental desk is significantly more expensive than standalone provider cover and extra cover is often needed for damage to tyres and windscreens as well as for theft.
Drivers are also confused by what they are responsible for when hiring a car.
Some 41 per cent believe they are not liable or are unsure if they are liable for the excess if the car is damaged and 37 per cent think they are not liable, or are unsure if they have to pay for a new set of keys if they lose the keys for their hire car.
Suarez added: ‘These misunderstandings can be expensive if drivers believe they have to buy excess insurance from their rental company, or worse, if they end up having to pay the excess themselves if the hire car is damaged or stolen.’