I’ve never broken down in a hire car, and hope I never will. But if I did – I’d expect any costs incurred as a result to be picked up automatically by the car hire company. But is that really the case?
Surely if a hire car breaks down and it’s not the driver’s fault, insurance for any breakdown expenses should be included in the basic price of the rental?
Considering this, we were surprised to hear reports from Which? members that they’d been asked to pay extra for breakdown cover when they’d picked their hire car up abroad. If they didn’t pay, they ran the risk of being left stranded if there was a breakdown.
High and dry at the roadside
When we looked at car hire providers’ and brokers’ policies, we found that breakdown cover was not included in all cases. This is important because UK car breakdown services like the AA, RAC and Saga do not cover cars that are hired abroad.
The issue usually arises if you book your car hire through a broker. These are companies like Argus Car Hire, Carhire3000 and Holiday Autos. These companies don’t rent you the car themselves, but book you a vehicle with a company that provides the cars.
The three brokers mentioned couldn’t guarantee that breakdown assistance would be included by all the car providers they used, and they all confirmed that some of their providers would charge extra for full cover.
Unfair to charge extra
Personally, I think it’s wrong to charge extra for breakdown cover. There are too many ‘extras’ that you’re asked to pay already when you pick up your hire car abroad, without adding this one on top.
Adding breakdown cover to a list of extra costs that already includes insurance and fuel, just adds more uncertainty and stress to the experience of renting a car. Do you think it’s fair for car hire companies to charge you extra for breakdown cover? Have you ever had a breakdown in a rented vehicle abroad?