Resisting the Hard Sell at the Car Hire Desk

Hire car

Many years ago we took a family holiday to Florida. Our hire car was all pre-booked and paid for. Yet when I reached the pickup desk I was told that I should take out their extra (super-expensive) insurance because the CDW wasn’t enough. I was tired after an 8 hour flight, the family were restless and wanted to get going, so I reluctantly paid up. At this distance of time, I have no idea whether the extra insurance was really necessary but it left a bad taste in my mouth and a long-standing suspicion of hire car insurance.

When Little Hotels was looking around for a car hire partner, we wanted good value, good service and good cars, but the question of insurance was right at the top of our priorities. A number of companies could tick most of those boxes, but only Zest Car Rental  satisfied the last requirement. That’s why you will find the Zest booking form on our car hire page.

There are two reasons why the rep at the pickup desk may be giving you the hard sell on insurance:

1. The Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that is included with the car is inadequate. Unless you have booked through Zest, that may well be the case. You might really be liable for an excess of up to €1600 and it will cost perhaps an extra €20 per day to get the full waiver. That’s pretty steep when the total car hire may be costing less than that.

2. The provider is trying it on to boost their revenue. This is where the pushy rep really tries to turn the screw and the customer needs to be firm and polite. Know in advance what insurance cover is provided in your basic car hire and then you can stand your ground. If you booked your car hire with Zest, the extra insurance is unnecessary and Zest take a pretty dim view of providers who act this way. Zest monitor all the providers they work with and are quick to stop working with any company that does this.

So why do car hire providers still do this? One explanation is the “budget airline effect”. They charge a stupidly low headline price and then need to make it up somehow. We’ve see a Fiat Panda quoted for €2.06 for 7 days. Well, you know the saying: if it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Zest may not give the cheapest quote you can find, but they offer a comprehensive, simple package to customers. Bargain basement prices with hidden charges and hard upselling are for someone else.

Car rentalThere is one area of insurance where customers may want to consider taking out an optional extra insurance. That is to cover the exclusions which exist on all policies: damage to tyres, underbody, etc. It’s called Top-Up Insurance and Zest offer it quite cheaply, or you can get it from all sorts of online sources.

We know from talking to some of our clients that they avoid a hire car on holiday because they perceive it to be such a minefield. That’s a pity because it can be smooth and stress-free, and adds so much to the enjoyment of a holiday. Just go to and we promise you’ll find it easy.


We’ve written before about car hire. You’ll find our previous blogs here, and here, and here. Just bear in mind they were written some time ago so some details may have changed.

10 Jul 2019, 14:41