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Fifth of car hirers find existing damage not marked on check-out sheet

Fifth of car hirers find existing damage not marked on check-out sheet

Almost a fifth (18%) of car hirers found existing damage on a hire car at pick-up, which was not marked on the rental company’s check-out sheet.

The survey of 1,000 car hirers, by Opinium for, a leading provider of car hire excess insurance, finds that over half (56%) think rental companies often charge customers for existing damage.

To stop this happening, almost half (48%) check the hire car thoroughly for damage, including small marks and wear and tear, rising to 61% of over 55s, compared to 27% under 34s. 46% also check the inside of the car, and 39% check the tyres, rising to 50% of over 55s. A quarter (23%) only check for major or obvious damage before driving the car for the first time.

Over half (57%) of car hirers list any existing damage on the checkout sheet (73% over 55s, compared to 31% under 34s); as well as taking pictures of the car at pick up (43%) and drop off (41%). Almost one in five (17%) also take a video of the car at pick-up and return.

Interestingly, 7% have successfully used photographic/ video evidence to prove that they didn’t cause damage.


Worryingly, 13% say a rental company representative told them it wasn’t necessary to note down minor damage on the check-out sheet at pick-up, and almost a fifth (17%) returned their car without it being checked for damage by a rental company representative as no one was available.

Over one in ten (13%) have received unexpected charges when they returned the car, with 9% also receiving unexpected charges on their card. One in twenty (6%) say they’ve been charged hundreds of pounds for what they consider a small amount of damage, e.g., scratch on the bodywork, or chip on the windscreen, and 23% worry the whole of their holiday about scratching or damaging the car.

Rental companies often sell three excess policies: super damage waiver, super theft waiver and tyre and windscreen excess. These cost on average £137* for super damage waiver, £11 for super theft waiver and £41 for tyre and windscreen excess, a combined average total of £189.  This is more than five times more expensive than a policy from a specialist insurance provider, like, which charges from £35.48 for a week’s European policy, which covers damage, theft, and tyres and windscreen cover. Annual European polices are from £44.99.

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of, 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. We see plenty of people getting charged for minor wheel damage or scratches on the bumper which they know were on the car when they picked it up but unfortunately were not noted on the paperwork when they collected the vehicle. Sadly, this is tantamount to writing a blank check to the rental desk.”

He continued: “People can protect themselves if they buy a stand-alone excess insurance policy, from an independent insurer like, 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, roof and the windscreen where pre-existing damage is often missed. Holiday makers should be concentrating on having a good time, not worrying about additional costs being levied on them at the end of their holiday, particularly if they are charged for damage they didn’t even cause.”