Hiring a car this February half term could cost skiers in Europe around £850 on average, once extras are added at the rental desk.
A study of six rental companies’ costs (Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar, Enterprise and Hertz) in seven European ski gateways (Barcelona, Turin, Grenoble, Geneva, Sofia, Innsbruck and Inverness) by iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, finds a medium compact hire car, e.g., a VW Golf, Peugeot 308 and Ford Focus, from 12 – 19 February 2022, costs £356 on average, but double this once extras are added.
These extras include a ski rack (£41), winterisation costs for winter tyres (£39), an extra driver (£67), a super damage waiver excess policy (£124), a super theft waiver excess policy (£29), a tyre and windscreen excess waiver policy (£41), a sat nav (£88) and a child’s car seat (£67), adding up to £496, bringing the total cost to £852.
However, the destinations vary widely. For example, in Geneva, hiring from Avis costs £886, with add-ons including a ski rack (£55), winterisation (£54), super damage waiver (£174), an extra driver (£93), a child’s car seat (£62) and a sat nav (£160), making a final total of £1,484 .
Many European ski destinations have experienced car hire price hikes since 2019, with Grenoble (up 89%), Innsbruck (up 61%), Inverness (up 61%) and Sofia (up 39%), while Turin, Barcelona and Geneva have seen prices go down on average.
Geneva is the most expensive place, on average, to hire a car, costing £575 for a week’s hire. The extras bought from the rental desk also add an additional £594, including £146 for super damage waiver, £59 tyre and windscreen excess waiver, £12 for theft waiver, £92 for an extra driver, £65 for a child’s car seat, £133 for a sat nav, £50 ski rack and £37 winterisation costs, making the overall average price £1,169 for a week’s car hire.
Sofia and Barcelona are the cheapest places for car hire costing on average only £146 in Sofia for the week, and £150 in Barcelona. However, in Barcelona the extras can quadruple the cost. The average price for super damage waiver is £134, tyre and windscreen excess is £45, a sat nav is £92, an extra driver costs £79, child car seat £74, winterisation cost £60 and a ski rack costs £57 – adding an additional £541 to the hire cost, bringing the total price to £691.
Innsbruck is the second most expensive place to hire a car, with an average price of £551, followed by Grenoble costing £464, Inverness £345 and Turin £261.
Hire car drivers should also watch out for high starting excess values. The average damage excess is over £1,000, and the average theft excess is over £1,100. In Geneva, car hirers with Budget face an excess of £2,424. 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.
Winterisation: This is preparing the car with snow tyres etc., which costs on average £39 in the study, but £82 in Grenoble.
Car Hire Excess Insurance: When driving in wintery conditions it pays to have adequate car hire excess insurance. Buying this from the rental company can be expensive, and significant savings can be made if it is bought in advance from a specialist insurance provider, like iCarhireinsurance.com.
On average this excess insurance, or damage waiver will add £194* to a hirer’s bill if bought from the rental desk. This is £28 a day and the same prices as a week’s policy from iCarhireinsurance, i.e., £27.96**. (An iCarhireinsurance.com policy also covers vulnerable parts of the vehicle, like the tyres and windscreen, which are often excluded from rental company policies).
Ski Rack: An essential piece of kit for many skiers. Budget for around £40 for a roof rack, although in Barcelona rental companies charge around £57.
Extra Drivers: Often a necessity for a ski group, the most expensive place to pay for an extra driver is Inverness, where travellers will pay around £95 for each extra driver. Sofia is the cheapest place, adding around £26 to the bill. Expect to pay around £67 across the destinations or double, £140, if it is a young driver (under 25).
Sat Navs: The most expensive place to hire a sat nav is Geneva where the average price is £133. Across all locations, the average charge was still a hefty £88 so take your own or use a smartphone (maybe with the maps already downloaded to avoid signal loss in the mountains).
Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com said: “Whilst the price of hiring a car has gone up in many ski destinations, there are still some good deals if you shop around. To keep costs down consider buying an independent car hire excess insurance policy in advance of travel, avoid putting multiple drivers on the policy, and bring your own sat nav or use your smartphone to navigate.”