Hiring a car in Geneva this February half term could set skiers back over £1,500 for a week, once extras are added. The average rental price in Geneva is almost £900 to hire a medium compact car, e.g., a Ford Focus or VW Golf, from 11 – 18 February 2023, but this increases to £1,525 once extras are added, including £179 for super damage waiver, £63 tyre and windscreen excess waiver, £99 for an extra driver, £63 for a child’s car seat, £119 for a sat nav, £57 ski rack and £48 winterisation costs for winter tyres.
A study of six rental companies’ costs (Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar, Enterprise and Hertz) in six European ski gateways (Barcelona, Turin, Grenoble, Geneva, Sofia and Innsbruck) by iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, finds that the average price to hire car in Europe this half term is £547, an increase of 86% on prices for the same week in 2019, when the average price to hire a car was £294.
Once the average price of extra items are added, which are often sold at the rental desk at pick-up, the final total for the car hirer is £1,056 – i.e., a super damage waiver policy costs £149, a tyre and windscreen waiver policy £53, an extra driver £64, sat nav £84, child car seat £65, winterisation £45 and ski rack £49, adding up to £509.
Sofia is the cheapest for car hire costing on average £210 for the week, but this is still double the 2019 average hire cost of £105. However, extras still double the cost to £492. The average price for super damage waiver is £59, tyre and windscreen excess is £50, a sat nav is £49, an extra driver costs £26, child car seat £24, winterisation cost £22 and a ski rack costs £52- adding an additional £282 to the hire cost.
Innsbruck is the second most expensive place to hire, with an average price of £742, up £400 from the 2019 price of £342. The average price in Turin is now £591, up £316 from the 2019 price of £275. The average price in Grenoble is now £522, up £276 from the 2019 price of £246, and the average price in Barcelona is £318, up £133 from the 2019 price of £185.
Hire car drivers should also watch out for high starting excess values. The average damage excess in the study is £1,150, however the excess is £2,168 with Hertz in Geneva, and with Europcar in Turin it is £2,412. Without an excess policy, travellers are responsible for the first part of any insurance claim for theft or damage up to this excess amount, even if it is not their fault.
Car Hire Excess Protection: When driving in wintry conditions, it’s important to consider protecting yourself against high excess charges. Buying excess waiver protection from the rental company can be expensive, and significant savings can usually be made if a stand-alone policy is bought in advance from a specialist provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com
On average this excess or waiver insurance will add £202* to a hirer’s bill if bought from the rental desk. This is £29 a day and almost the same price as a week’s policy from iCarhireinsurance, i.e., £35.48**. (An iCarhireinsurance.com policy also includes vulnerable parts of the vehicle, like the tyres and windscreen, which are often excluded from rental company policies).
Sat Navs: The most expensive place to hire a sat nav is Geneva where the average price is £119. Across all locations, the average charge is still a hefty £84 so take your own or use a smartphone (maybe with the maps already downloaded to avoid signal loss in the mountains).
Extra Drivers: Often a necessity for a ski group, the most expensive place to pay for an extra driver is Geneva, where travellers will pay around £99 for each extra driver. Sofia is the cheapest place, adding around £26 to the bill. Expect to pay around £64 across the destinations or nearly double, £134, if it is a young driver (under 25).
Ski Rack: An essential piece of kit for many skiers. Budget for around £49 for a roof rack, although in Barcelona rental companies charge around £66.
Winterisation: This is preparing the car with snow tyres etc., which costs on average £45, but £65 on average in Barcelona.
Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com said, “The cost of hiring a car for ski holidays is significantly more than it was a few years ago, but there are still some deals to be found, so make sure you shop around and keep a close eye on extras, which can really add to the bill.
“The most expensive extra is often the excess waiver cover, so to keep costs down consider buying an independent car hire excess insurance policy in advance of travel. Money can also be saved by not having extra drivers on the policy and bringing your own sat nav or using your smartphone to navigate.”