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Over a quarter of car hirers have experienced a hard sell at the car rental desk

Over a quarter of car hirers have experienced a hard sell at the car rental desk

Two-fifths (42%) of car hirers feel pressured by sales agents when they pick up a hire car, rising to almost half (49%) of under 34s, and more than a quarter (28%) say they have experienced a hard sell at the car rental desk, according to a new Opinium survey of hire car drivers by, a leading provider of car hire excess insurance.

A quarter (25%) of car hirers had to wait over half an hour to pick up their rental vehicle and 13% arrived to find the car they booked and paid for was not available.

Almost three-quarters (72%) say rental companies try to scare you into buying excess waiver cover. Four-fifths (84%) say rental companies shouldn’t be allowed to sell complicated policies full of technical jargon (81% men and 87% women).  It is not surprising then that over half (53%) find car hire excess waiver cover confusing and difficult to understand.

Over a quarter (29%) are unaware that they are liable for the excess (the first part of any claim) if their car is damaged or stolen, which can be up to £2,000, even if it is not their fault.

If drivers don’t have a credit card with enough credit to cover the excess, they may not be able to rent their car without buying excess cover from the rental desk, as many rental companies don’t accept deposits paid by debit card or cash.


Over half (57%) don’t know that rental companies can hold this excess amount on their credit card if they haven’t bought the rental desk excess waiver protection. Nearly a third (31%) say they have bought rental desk excess cover rather than let the rental company hold the excess on their credit card.

A fifth (22%) of car hirers say the process of collecting a hire car is too complicated and stressful.

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 only £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: “The important thing when hiring a car is to understand what you need, and what the alternative options may be, so you don’t get caught out when you are at the rental desk. Rental companies were hit hard during Covid and have had to increase their prices so we may see the hard sell getting worse this summer. You can avoid this if you buy a standalone protection from a specialist insurance company, like, just make sure you have a credit card on which they can hold the excess during the hire.”