One in five have found unrecorded damage on their hire car

2 Aug, 2016

Over one in five people who have hired a car (21%) said they had found damage on the car which was not highlighted on the check-out sheet, according to a new YouGov survey, commissioned by, the leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance.

Any damage to a hire car, even if it isn’t your fault, can lead to the hirer having to pay the first part of the cost of repair, up to the excess amount, which can be as much as £1200.  

The survey found that whilst half (57%) of hire car drivers always check their car for damage before they drive it, and almost a quarter (24%) have taken a picture of the hire car to prove it was damaged before they used it, only 38% check the condition of the wheels and tyres, despite the fact that these items can account for approximately one in five charges for minor damage made at the rental desk.  

Claims for damage to wheels and tyres, for instance, can cost from €120 to €400 so they are just as important as the rest of the car to check before driving the car away.

It isn’t just on pick-up that drivers need to be vigilant.  A quarter have had to return their hire car without seeing a hire car representative.  With 7% of renters believing they have been wrongly accused of damaging a rental car, not getting it signed off by a company representative is a risky move that could end up costing a small fortune.

The survey found that one in ten drivers have returned a rental car with damage which wasn’t their fault, and 6% have returned a rental car with damage which was their fault.

Excess insurance can be bought to protect drivers from paying for damage, but the rental company policies cost up to £17 a day, five times more expensive than a policy from (from £2.99 a day).  Rental company policies also often exclude damage to windows, tyres and undercarriages, areas that are most likely to be damaged, but policies automatically include these vulnerable areas as standard.

“When you pick up a hire car always check it thoroughly. Make sure that you note down every mark, no matter how insignificant on the checkout sheet, including damage and scuffs to the wheels. We hear of many people getting charged for minor damage, which they say was on the car when they picked it up, but which they didn’t mark on the paperwork. Sadly in the modern world of vehicle rental this can be tantamount to writing a blank check to the rental desk,” said a spokesman for

He added: “Many people protect themselves by buying a stand-alone excess insurance policy in advance. These policies are usually much better value than those offered by the rental companies and, in addition to the bodywork, they also cover tyres, wheels, roofs and windscreens, which are often excluded from the rental desk policies. It’s still important to check the car for damage though, as whilst claiming is easy it’s always easier not to have to claim at all.”