Let's now consider the "loss of use" exclusion clause in your car insurance document.It describes what alternative transport your insurer will offer to you if your own vehicle is inoperative because of accident or theft. In the majority of cases the answer is in the negative!
Some insurance companies have a team of retained repairers who will give you a courtesy car if one should be available. A few insurance companies have a car hire scheme added to their policy while they will arrange a car for you from their chosen car hire partner. However, most insurers do not have either of these options.
Most insurance companies offer a hire car option to their comprehensive policies. The option is expensive and the cover offered is rather limited. You should decide if you find it essential that you require it. It is not an essential 'add on' for everyone. Answer these questions:
If my car was off the road it would be possible for me to:
– get to work (by cycle, walk, bus, train)?
– get the children / grandchildren to school?
– go shopping
– go on holiday?
– follow my sports, social interests, hobbies etc?
If you could manage without a car for a while, you do not really need to buy this extra cover. If you can not then you should check that you have this cover.
Bear in mind, if your car is stolen or an accident is your fault, you will not be able to claim any car hire costs from another person. You can not use a 'credit hire' firm. You can not rely upon the loan of a replacement car from the garage. So this extra cover becomes valuable to you.
Similarly, if you do not wish to use your insurance company's recommended repairer, or your car has been written off, your car hire extra cover should save the day. Let us look at what you should hope to see in an average policy.
You may only hire a car if yours is off the road for at least two days, but the maximum period of hire is fourteen days. If you need it for more than this you will have to pay the additional cost to the car hire firm. There's been many an argument between vehicle owner, insurer and repairer when repairs have overrun often down to non-availability of parts and no party wants to pay the extra car rental costs.
You can not have a hire car for a windscreen or glass only claim.
There is usually a maximum distance that the hire company will deliver a rental car so if you live away from the major cities and the hire firm is a fair few miles away from you, be prepared for an extra charge if you require them to deliver it to you. Can you get to the local depot yourself?
Your own car insurance policy will cover the hire car for comprehensive benefits. That helps your insurer to keep down the price of the hire car cover but if you are involved in an accident while using the rental car, the insurance claim will be on your policy.
The car can only be hired from the date your car goes in for repair if it is still legal and safe to drive your vehicle. If your vehicle is not safe to be driven you can have the car from the date of the accident.
Policies could well pose a maximum hire period, such as fourteen days. If your car is restored prior to this date, you have to return the hire car as soon as you have your car back.
The rental car supplied will almost certainly be a small, manual gearbox model no more than a couple of years old. If you need something a bit bigger you might have to pay extra. If you require an automatic they will try to locate one for you within the vehicle groups specified in the cover. The hire car will normally come supplied with a full tank of fuel. You must return it with a full tank. If you do not you will be billed by the hire firm for a fill up. And they charge a very high price per liter!
Some hire firms will want to collect your credit card number, if you have one, insuring against the possibility of needing to fill up your car or having to repair any bumps or scratches that happen while you are using it.