We’ve, presumably, all heard about the PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) mis-selling scandal. Here’s another dodge to get you hot under the dashboard – Car Hire Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). When you hire a car all the companies (Hertz, Europcar, Avis etc.) tell you that if you damage the car at all you will be liable for the first guzzilion pounds of repair costs. Then they offer to mitigate your risk by selling additional insurance – often adding 50% to the apparently competitive headline daily rate for hire alone.
I recently hired a car from renatalcars.com, a broker, who subcontracted me to Avis at Exeter Airport for a one-way trip to Bristol Airport. In round numbers that’s £80 for a one-way, one day, hire plus £20 for CDW. When I picked up the car Avis told me that the CDW I had prepaid to rentalcars.com did not mitigate my risk to Avis and that, in any case, it didn’t cover everything that Avis insurance would do (windscreen, tyres etc.). Given they had upgraded me, for reasons unexplained, from a cheapo Peugeot 107 to an Audi A3 I was obliged to buy another load of insurance: scratch an Audi and it’s going to cost a lot more to fix than a Peugeot roller skate. We (the Avis receptionist and I) spoke to rentalcars.com who confirmed that their CDW was limited in scope (though this is not confirmed on their website). So, my 75 mile trip cost £120 + fuel. Despite the fact that my contract was with rentalcars.com, I was railroaded by their subcontractor.
As for one-way premium charges, what’s that all about? Lots of people want to go from A to B rather than A to A. I don’t believe the individual hire locations have a fixed inventory – they hire out what they have ‘in stock’ (hence unexplained upgrades) and only rarely have to transport a car back to base. If it were that common an occurence they could offer one-way hirers to take the car back: “I’m going from A to B, have you got any cars to return there?”
I e-mailed rentalcars.com, via their customer services contact, and they very promptly considered my complaint. They stated that the ‘small print’ gave them the high ground but, as a gesture, refunded the charge for CDW insurance that I couldn’t use. My advice would be that, if you regularly hire cars, you take out a comprehensive stand-alone CDW policy (e.g. from protectmybubble.com) which will cover you for unlimited hires over a year for substantially less than the hire companies will charge.