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Have Your Say: Replacement car costs

Man driving open top car
Disputes over hire car charges are on the increase

After a serious road accident many drivers need a temporary replacement vehicle while a claim is sorted out.

Often these cars are not supplied by regular hire companies but through a separate industry - known as "credit hire" or "accident management".

This industry has grown up purely to service the demand for replacement vehicles after an accident.

But a major row between this industry and the insurers, who end up paying the bill, could lead to a rise in premiums for all drivers.

Should drivers expect a replacement car while theirs is being repaired?

Do you think the charges are reasonable?

Are insurers processing claims quickly enough?

Who do you think is at fault if premiums rise?

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. The debate is now closed.

MOST RECENT COMMENTS:

It is just a great rip off
Roger Kendall, Guildford
We run a hire business and deal with our own claims to try to keep our insurance claims down. If one of our cars hits another we will offer a replacement car quickly to the other driver. If we don't the other driver may go to a credit hire company. The law has made it possible for these credit hire companies to make money, but to get the business they are often very dishonest. A hire car should cost about 13 to 45/day depending on what it it is replacing but the credit hire companies will charge 60 to 600/day. It is just a great rip off. It would be reasonable for them to have say a 35% mark up but not 500%. On minor whiplash incidents incidents the driver injured will receive about 2,000 for the injury but the solicitors dealing with it receive about 3,000 for a few letters. Again this crazy system is allowing a dishonest quasi legal industry to grow up which will cost insurers and therefore motorists dear.
Roger Kendall, Guildford

It seems the key to this issue is, ultimately, the test of "fair and reasonable". The only liability an "at-fault" party has to satisfy is compensation for the no-fault party losses, whether it be for damage to a car, Ming vase, pair of shoes or anything else for that matter; a car is no special case in this test. Therefore, liable parties and/or their insurers should examine claims with a fine tooth comb. It must be remembered that, believe it or not, nobody is entitled to have a damaged vehicle (or any other damaged item for that matter) repaired. The courts can only order restitution for losses. Insurance companies, the repair industry, hire companies and all associated with this circus fear this basic test.
Billyfixit, Tadworth

Insurers and these companies have an agreement in place over the daily rates
Craig Lewis, Huddersfield
I do think that your programme has given a very biased opinion of this industry, siding with insurance companies. Credit hire was introduced because insurers failed to look after people involved in non fault accidents themselves. Insurance is about indemnifying people for their loss, if you were involved in a non fault accident, why should you be without a car? Yes it's right that you could go to a recognisable vehicle rental company, but this means you having to pay the bill and having to the recover the costs from the at fault insurer yourself. What these specialist companies do, is arrange the hire vehicle, and then recover the cost on your behalf. You may have to sign a credit agreement, but they will also provide you with an insurance policy to ensure you don't have to pay the costs even if you lose the claim. In the vast majority of cases you don't have to worry or deal with any hassle. Its all done for you. On the rates issue, I think I am right in saying that insurers and these companies have an agreement in place over the daily rates, and insurers receive hefty discounts for paying the bill quickly. This service is there to help the consumers, not hinder them. Increasing insurance costs is what the insurers would like you to think, but in reality all it is doing is eating into their profits. There is good news for us consumers - the price of insurance is being cut due to all the comparison websites, so insurers are having to cut premiums in order to compete with one another.
Craig Lewis, Huddersfield

As usual, the insurance companies doth protest too much. That's what they're there for, to insure against losses. The problem is entirely one of their own making. If they, historically, had not been so intransigent in refusing to automatically provide the innocent parties with a replacement car, the credit hire industry would not have grown up; it is there as a direct result of the insurance companies' own bad faith.
Bert Postlethwaite, Glasgow

I'm more than a little puzzled by some of this discussion. I have always sought car insurance that guarantees me a car in the event of an accident and assumed I was paying a higher premium for this privilege. There is no way I would sign any car hire agreement (and I never have in the past!) as I'm not hiring it, my insurer is! Surely differential pricing for those who want this option seems to be the sensible way forward?
Peter Bowden, Birmingham

The insurance companies should deal with certain repairers and offer the customer a valuable service and hopefully control the price, but the insurance companies never look after loyal customers at renewal and just keep on increasing the premium even that someone may have 10 yrs plus no claims discount. Insurance companies should realistically offer genuine no claims discounts and this will certainly bring in loyalty and reduce costs.
Mohammed AAmin, Birmingham

There are many firms in existence who help insurers keep credit hire costs to a reasonable level
Shaun Perkins, head of credit hire, Accident Assist Group, Leicester
Whilst I agree and totally sympathise with some of the horror stories listed here, I'm afraid I can't agree with James Smith in so far as credit hire firms are "deplorable"... as noted earlier, insurers receive vast sums from credit hire firms (sometimes amounting to tens of millions of pounds a year) and this goes some way to recouping any losses made due to credit hire. I can tell you from personal experience of working in credit hire that we have to "write off" an awful lot of money every year as insurers find new and ingenious ways of avoiding settlement. However, it is more a problem of cost control on the part of the insurers, and there are many firms in existence who help insurers keep credit hire costs to a reasonable level.
Shaun Perkins, head of credit hire, Accident Assist Group, Leicester

One thing that the insurers don't mention when complaining about the inflationary pressure that credit hire is putting on claims costs, is that almost all of them are happy to refer their policyholders to a hire company after a "non fault" accident, and are financially rewarded for these referrals.
John Gritus, Manchester

it is only the insurers' poor service that has led to this situation
Donald, Surrey
The daily hire charges for credit hire are part of a 10-year-old agreement with insurers and the rates have only gone up once in the last two years, so in real terms they are decreasing! The comments already on the site are correct as the hire period is determined by how long the insurers take to resolve the claim and the repair and it is often the insurer's preferred repairer that is taking so long, so it is the insurer's fault not the credit hire company's fault. The right of the individual who is not-at-fault to have a replacement vehicle is established in law and the insurers agree that their service is so poor for the innocent party that someone else took the opportunity to provide this service, i.e. it is only the insurers' poor service that has led to this situation. If you have an accident that is not your fault then you will find the service and help these companies give you to resolve your claim is really helpful and is better than being left out in the cold by the other party's insurer. The insurers themselves feed their policyholders into credit hire companies and take the referral fees which should therefore be reducing policy premiums!
Donald, Surrey

Insurance companies are so happy to take money but when it comes to giving money out, they have a problem. So you can imagine how innocent drivers feel when their own insurance company is not giving them a positive response. I mean, why should I use my insurance company when I can go to an accident management company who will treat me well, give you all the details you need, provide you with extra customer services etc. My thinking to credit hire companies is that the service they provide is absolutely important, convenient for drivers and very beneficial.
Naheem Iqbal, Sheffield

Yes, you should have a spare car if the accident was not your fault. It happened to me some years ago, and I was amazed by how slow my insurer was to pay out on what was a simple economic write off (their decision). Had they have acted quickly, they would have saved about 2,000, (more than the write off value of the car) It was only my pestering them that got anything done at all! What a shower!
Gordon Thompson, Chrich

How do they justify hiring a car for 200 a day when the standard rates from the likes of Hertz/Avis/Europcar etc work out at around 16-20 per day? It does sound as if these "credit-hire" companies are milking the system.
Andrew, Cambridge

This parasitic industry must be challenged
Alan, Derbyshire
I unfortunately damaged a colleague's car (2mph reversing in a car park) and the bill for the replacement car hire for my colleague ended up at 870 (comprising 720 for a week's hire charges and interest and 150 costs). I don't know what the repair cost was though mine was 260 and took three days. To compound matters my insurance company were not efficient and I ended up with a judgement against me from my local county court! I now have certificate from the court confirming the debt has been paid though as I am about to re-mortgage I am concerned this may affect our application. The FOS is now involved and I hope this matter will be behind us soon. I enquired about car hire and a week's hire delivered and collected from your door is 130-150. This parasitic industry must be challenged though hearing about some of the amounts involved I suppose I got off lightly.
Alan, Derbyshire

I understand that insurers lose money on car insurance as an industry because they cannot control their costs and they try to protect the size of their policy base by pricing too low. They used to make money from investment returns from the premiums collected but that is now much lower as well. Perhaps insurers should sort out their own businesses before criticising those that provide good efficient service and are growing as a result of it.
Jack, Gloucester

We act more in the interest of the policyholder than the insurance companies
Rodney Lowe, Halifax
I work for a credit hire company, and would like to defend my industry. As pointed out, we exist primarily to offer like for like vehicles in non fault accidents. Many of us also handle the claim on behalf of the innocent party to ensure the best quality repair for the owner, and a market value repair for the repairer. Insurance companies operate a system of squeezing the labour rate to repairers, restricting their hours allowed to do the job, and taking unnecessary excess payments off drivers. Payment of invoices to repairers can stretch long beyond what is acceptable, starving a low margin business even further. Insurance companies like to blame credit hire for driving up the price of premiums, when one insurance company recently put in print that premiums have actually lowered over the past few years. No inflation linking, no allowance for more expensive repairs, no allowance for increasing costs such as fuel. Hardly a sensible business model. Insurance companies are also adept at hiving off jobs to their own "approved repairers". These repairers are mainly tied into fixed price repairs of less than 1,000 per job regardless of damage. If your car had been damaged to the tune of say, 2,000, would you want a repairer to only have 1,000 to repair it? Short cuts, and poor quality are inevitable. The vast majority of credit hire companies work ethically and within agreed guidelines. Even then insurance companies can delay payment to ourselves for anything up to 12 months. This is when we need to involve the owner to validate our claim. All reputable credit hire companies will have an indemnity in place to protect clients from financial exposure. Inefficiency and belligerence of insurance companies can lead to the high value of hire charges per claim. I will accept that not all credit hire companies are angels, but as an industry we act more in the interest of the policyholder than the insurance companies who are happy to take their premiums. If Insurance companies acted more in the interests of their policyholders, and paid a fair hourly rate to repairers, credit hire companies may not even exist.
Rodney Lowe, Halifax

If insurers got their act together and dealt with claims from third parties quickly, then the credit hire costs would be a fraction of the amount they are now. Insurance companies need to act to sort out their own claims department before criticising others. It is this antiquated attitude (blame someone else) that is really costing the extra on all our premiums. Many insurers are quick to deal with claims made against their policyholders, and supply the innocent driver with transport. So they get rid of the credit hire company from the claims loop altogether. Problem solved.
Kevin, Birchington

If insurance companies got themselves sorted a lot of these delays could be resolved
Philip Woods, Manchester
I work for a credit hire company in Manchester. I really can't see what all the fuss is about. If you had a car repaired and the body shop gave you a loan vehicle, the chances are it would be a small compact Nissan Micra type car, whatever you had - be it a Mini or a Bentley. Why should you have to settle on something of lower specification to what you drive already? You may have waited years to purchase that car. Also the hire rates are set out by the ABI unless the company is non ABI registered and trying it on with figures out of thin air. These figures are based on what it would cost a member of the public to go and hire a car from say Avis or similar. Insurance companies also take forever to settle a claim and most rental charges are settled in excess of 90 days although they are quick enough to take the insurance premium off you. If insurance companies got themselves sorted a lot of these delays could be resolved and settled a lot sooner and less money to be paid out.
Philip Woods, Manchester

When I got rear ended our insurance company rushed us a replacement Mercedes from a credit hire company and I do wonder if some insurance companies are trying to bump up the oppositions costs. However, on another occasion when our car was damaged while parked by a lady reversing out her driveway, as liability was not disputed, we asked her insurance company to sort us out a hire car while ours was in for repair and they were very happy to do so. If more drivers did this then hopefully we could all benefit from lower premiums.
A.W., Bromley

If people don't want to be taken to court over something like this, why sign a credit agreement saying you will? Insurance companies sometimes refuse to pay because the hire charges are needless and excessive. If the person who hired the car had to pay it, would they go out and hire a car at 50-450 per day? Thought not. Reap what you sow.
Carl, Stoke on Trent

Excellent service when you have non fault accident
Nadeem, Luton

If the insurers provide an adequate level of service then credit hire companies would not exist
Gary, Poole
The credit hire companies exist because there is significant demand for their services. They provide a service to "not at fault" drivers who otherwise may be taken for a ride by the other persons insurer. Insurers will always try to take the cheapest route and force you to use their approved repair shop and take a sub standard hire car. If I drive a 40,000 executive car why should I be forced to run around in a 1.0 Nissan Micra courtesy car because it suits the insurance company? I would also expect the car to be repaired at a main dealer using original manufacturer's parts as opposed to pattern parts at an independent body shop, thus protecting the resale value of the car. Clearly there are cases where something has gone seriously wrong with the process. The major credit hire companies all adhere to the ABI code of practice. If the insurers provide an adequate level of service then credit hire companies would not exist.
Gary, Poole

The rates agreed with insurance companies do not reflect the charges of ordinary hire companies. Credit hire companies' rates are sometimes four times the amount we charge. It is a complete rip off and about time the insurance companies sorted it out. If someone has damaged your car so that it is unusable it is fair to expect a replacement vehicle but at rates that are fair and reflect market prices.
Jeff Agate, Bishops Stortford

I think the disputes are only increasing because the insurers don't want to pay charges that quite clearly they should be paying for when their policyholder is to blame for an accident. Isn't that what insurance is for?
Alison, London

The service was very good
Dave Porter, Chichester
Having had a claim recently and having had a replacement car from a credit hire company, I would do it again. The service was very good. My insurers were so slow that had I not have had a car while mine was off the road, I would have had major problems at work. I have no idea why my insurers took so long to deal with my claim.
Dave Porter, Chichester

I was involved in a no fault accident recently when a car ran into the back of mine. I was astonished that my insurer tried very hard to push me into using an accident management company, including credit car hire. I refused and the claim was dealt with in house by the insurers, saving a lot of money for the other party. I am sure I was being pushed to the accident management company as a way of making commission for my insurance company - at the expense of the other driver's insurance company and drivers in general. Disgraceful.
J Wynn , Manchester

"These companies are a con and are only out to make money." What companies are there to not make money?
John, Leeds

Having personally been in accidents several times which were not my fault, typically rear end shunts at traffic lights and on motorways, I have learnt the very simple way to avoid this. When asked to get a quote for repair by your insurer simply ask the quoting garages if they will give you a free courtesy car whilst your car is in repair. The free courtesy car never appears on any bill. Simplicity!
Ian Porter, Weardale, County Durham

Having recently been involved in a minor road traffic accident, the other driver accepting full liability, we have been bombarded by our own insurer and their designated bodywork company to accept an hire car through an accident management company. This we have resisted. I do not think the insurance industry can express concern as they are also promoting the use of an accident management company. We have been threatened it is a legal requirement to use such a company. Our own insurer has also telephoned twice to see if we have sustained any injuries or loss!
Lorna Baygot, Wirral, Merseyside

Eventually we came up with an amount I was prepared to pay
Bill Meadows, Langtoft
It's an absolute scandal, apparently jointly colluded in by all aspects of the insurance industry. A nice little earner with possible "spin off" benefits for all those involved. I slightly scraped someone's bumper, admitted liability and to save my "no claims" offered to pay up, thinking it would cost me at most a couple of hundred quid. The bill for the repair was, I suppose, the going rate but it was the excessive charge for vehicle replacement for the seven days' hire to carry out work that should, have by the industries own time standards only taken a few hours to complete. I told them I was not prepared to pay the amount involved, had enough time, money, and motivation to pursue this matter to exhaustion through the courts if necessary. Eventually we came up with an amount I was prepared to pay but I still don't think the process was either reasonable or transparent or customer led (whatever that means). Furthermore, I am not sure that my insurance company wouldn't have just paid up on my behalf if I hadn't have become personally involved, thereby colluding in the dubious process and ensuring the continuation of the activity to the mutual benefit of all involved, except of course the unfortunate individual(s) or public who have to pick up the cost, suitably disguised in the overall premium. (Still Angry and Disgusted of East Yorkshire)
Bill Meadows, Langtoft

As a young barrister practicing in the East Anglia region I've come across quite a few of these claims. The credit hire charges are eye-watering and there is a total lack of transparency leading to potential for abuse with no incentive for chosen garages to get the work done quickly. But why on earth do the defendant insurers not step in at the outset of the claim and offer these services themselves at a much cheaper price?
Anonymous, Cambridge

We are the proprietors of a small body shop and have to provide replacement cars to our customers. These cars are paid for from the cost of the repair which is agreed by the insurance company. No extra payments are made so although most customers believe their insurance companies are supplying the vehicle, this is not the case. As a repairer we have no problem with this system and make every effort to keep the customer's vehicle for the shortest time possible which can be generally achieved with efficient planning.
Wendy Hucks, Maidstone/Kent


If insurance companies regained a customer focus and delivered a decent service, people wouldn't go elsewhere


Katie, Edinburgh

I recently had an accident which was the other driver's fault. Initially I was happy to make arrangements through his insurer to have the repairs carried out. However, their service was awful - when trying to arrange for my car to go to the garage for an assessment, they called my home number during the day when I was out, but called my office number in the evening when I was home - despite my having clearly identified my personal mobile as the number to reach me on. Whenever I called their call centre to try and sort out arrangements, I was kept on hold for often over 20 minutes on an 0870 number, at which point I usually gave up. The garage they had designated failed to keep appointments, and they expected me to travel 140 mile round trip to collect my car once repaired. I chose eventually to use one of the accident management companies - and it all went very smoothly! If insurance companies regained a customer focus and delivered a decent service, people wouldn't go elsewhere.
Katie, Edinburgh

Last year I bought a Mondeo for 2,500 and insured it Third party. Three weeks later another driver crashed into it. I took it to a repairer for a quote and they put me in contact with a hire company. The very next day I was given an almost new Avensis which I kept for almost a month whilst my Mondeo was repaired. I don't know what the final bill was but I doubt it was cheap and I realise that this is helping put up everyone's premiums. But at the end of the day I was kept on the road in a similar sized car and had no hassle or form filling to do, it was all arranged over the phone. Although I do believe that the time taken to repair my car was dragged out far longer than required. Now if the insurers could deliver this kind of performance to their third party customers then they could control the costs. Even fully comp customers normally only get offered a small replacement car whilst theirs is being repaired.
Nick, Crawley



The costs are the fault of the insurers


Glyn Radcliffe-Brine, Guildford

We have twice been referred to a car hire firm when family members have had their cars hit. In each case they handled all the hassle. The cost of hire was increased in both cases simply because the insurer refused to pay initially even though their customers had admitted responsibility for the accident. The costs are the fault of the insurers.
Glyn Radcliffe-Brine, Guildford

I had a very similar situation regarding excessive claims for a hire vehicle. The repairs were circa 6,000 whilst the hire charges for two and a half months were 9,800. I was subjected to months of veiled threats from their solicitors and had to engage my own solicitor. Fortunately my dealership were so appalled when I told them that they confronted the accident agency and paid my solicitor's fees, reclaiming them from the agency.
Mr J Giles, Leicester


There is a real scam going on here


Jayne Sainsbury, London

I had an accident - a car bumped into the back of me. I called the insurance claims line to report the accident and within one hour I had a call back from a car hire company to offer me a loan car for the period I was without transport. I told the chap I spoke to that I did not want a large car as we are pensioners and only use it for social reasons. He insisted I must have a like for like and the next day the Star Ship Enterprise arrived. It was huge and totally unsuitable. It took two weeks for them to send the hire agreement to us, we had nothing explained to us, and when it arrived I was stunned to see that they wanted to charge us 273.30 each day that we had it! I called to ask them to collect the car and was told that we would have to wait three days for the "insurance to cancel itself". I was furious as you can imagine - there is a real scam going on here as I have tried and tried to get anyone to take responsibility for the authorisation of these type of charges and can't.
Jayne Sainsbury, London

Hire cars offer a quick alternative to the policy holder. Why should they be without a vehicle because someone has been negligent and put them in the position of having to have their vehicle repaired? If people think the charges are unreasonable, they can go without, which I bet they wouldn't!
Ritchie Hicks, Colchester

I should be able to get a car if I am involved in an accident but it shouldn't cost five times the cost it does with a normal hire firm because a credit hire firm has rented it. This just means I pay a falsely high insurance premium with no benefit!
Jenny, Bromley


Surely they do this solely to support all insurers profits?

Richard Jacob, Worcester

I recently had to use a hire company after a non fault crash. They supplied me with an almost new replacement Range Rover that same day, delivered to my home on a like for like basis, brilliant service. Pressure should be brought on the insurers to sort out the service that they offer rather than on these supply companies that provide the public with a service. The cost was the same daily rate as from Avis Prestige for the rental car. My own insurer had refused to provide me with a similar car to that which I had insured with them, despite the third party having accepted they were at fault. Why should we be discriminated against by our own insurer in not expecting a similar car on loan to that which we already insure with them, surely they do this solely to support all insurers profits? It is time that insurance companies wake up and start providing us with the service that we should be able to expect and certainly already pay for. Thank you for bringing this problem to the public's attention, I feel that soon an insurer will start to offer this same service or will buy one of these companies, then it will become an additional add on service to our policies that they will then of course charge us for.
Richard Jacob, Worcester

I am very angry, when I pay my insurance and am left with no back up
Jan Kelly, Ryde, Isle of Wight
I was involved in an accident in August this year. Totally not my fault, my car has been in the repair garage for one month, apparently awaiting parts. I have had the use of a car through insurance for this time, however I've been told the loan time is up, and the car is waiting to be collected. I cannot have the use of another vehicle for loan, the garage concerned says all their courtesy cars are in use until December 2008. I am now left with no vehicle, having to get children to school daily, As it was not my fault I am very angry, when I pay my insurance and am left with no back up.
Jan Kelly, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Yesterday I received a claim form from the county court for 957.87 plus fee plus costs totalling 1082.87 for car hire from the claimant for having reversed into a car on Christmas day 2006. I believed this had all been settled but cannot believe that car hire could cost this much. The car I reversed into was stationary and my repair took two days. This is quite scary to receive this when there has been no communication to me other than this claim. I am a 56-year-old woman, fully comprehensively insured with I believed legal cover how can this be sent to me and how can car hire cost this much.
Susan James, Caldy, Wirral

If the insurers paid a decent labour rate to the garages they would not recommend these credit hire/repair companies. The motivation for the garage is a decent labour rate for a highly skilled job and the garage does not have to supply a courtesy car at the insurers bequest for a paltry 2 per day with free collection and delivery. Insurers have held the accident repair industry in a vice like grip with a suppressed labour rate for over 15 years, that is why credit repair and hire has burgeoned.
J, Cleveland

Surely they should do their best to sort these things out quickly
S Thompson, Wolverhampton
My 19 year old son was recently hit by a school minibus. The driver admitted full responsibility and the insurance companies were contacted. This was over three weeks ago and my son has still not got his car repaired, the reason being they cannot sort out a hire car. Due to his age he could not have this option on his own insurance policy. As the accident was not his fault he is entitled to claim for a hire car from the other insurance company however this is proving to be almost impossible. If insurance companies are increasing premiums to cover this sort of thing surely they should do their best to sort these things out quickly.
S Thompson, Wolverhampton

We had a replacement car organised for us via a reputable car association following an accident that wasn't our fault. We were surprised how eager they were to provide one. However the company that delivered it was so picky about noting down every tiny little chip and scratch on their hand-held digital gizmo, that we were put off about driving it in case another chip occurred and we would be held accountable. We sent it back after two days preferring to do without it rather than have the worry. Our old car, because of repair disputes was off road for two months, so we saved the insurance a lot. I note now that my local dealer is offering a replacement car in similar circumstances so there is obviously good money in it.
Ron Taylor, St Albans

I feel very sorry for the other person's insurance company
P.M., Wiltshire
As I am in the middle of such issue I will remain anonymous but would comment that I was advised by the insurance company's recommended body shop to go to one of these companies. On the recommendation that there would be no cost or incurrence to me I went with it. My car was off the road for over a week simply to have the rear bumper replaced and I would agree that the costs when viewed correctly do become very steep, when you question them they state that these are the agreed costs between themselves and the insurance companies. With the knowledge I now have I feel very sorry for the other person's insurance company, and have made similar views as yourselves regarding the effect upon premiums to the hire company. I would never use such a service again but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
P.M., Wiltshire

1) Insurance companies should offer to arrange for a replacement car in a timely manner if your own car is not roadworthy due to another person's fault. People who rely on a car would expect a replacement either next day or so which is reasonable. 2) The availability of a car provided by an insurer is limited by the time they will cover your car and how long it takes for them to arrange provision in the first place. The other person's insurer would only provide a replacement vehicle for the time that the garage would be working on my car (in my case the garage was not able to carry out the work straight away and it took 2 weeks of repairs) so I would have been without a car for a week before work started. 3) That the car that you are provided with is of a similar size to your own. I was offered a Nissan Micra, which is ok if you don't use your car for work purposes but would have been too small for my requirements.
Dave, Devon

This problem has been around for a few years. I had a small non fault accident in France about four years ago (split bumper). The approved repairer wanted to keep the car until the part arrived (several weeks) issuing me with a courtesy car I didn't need. I went back to my dealer as the car was only four months old and they called me in when the part arrived. Simple. When I reported my dissatisfaction to the insurance company they weren't interested. They also couldn't be bothered to sort out the accident. Needless to say I didn't go back to that insurance company or underwriter.
Mike Cox, Bristol

I totally agree that the insurers of the other car should dispute the costs and it is now going to court
Mrs Helena Muir, Watford, Hertfordshire
More than a year after a driver shunted my car from behind, the costs of the hire car I had are still in dispute and I completely agree that the hire charges are exorbitant. Shortly after I reported the accident I had a call from a company to discuss a hire car while my Mini was being repaired. As they knew about my car I assumed that my insurers had arranged this. What I didn't realise was, it had been the body shop that had passed my details on. I didn't examine the hire charges for the replacement car when it arrived and even if I had, I would not have imagined that it would take 7 weeks to repair my car and produce a hire bill of 6,000! The repair costs for what had appeared to be fairly minor damage came to 7,000. Together this was more than the value of my car which was only four months old at the time of the accident. I totally agree that the insurers of the other car should dispute the costs and it is now going to court. The driver of the other car lives near us and I am very embarrassed and concerned that he may think it is us that is trying to get money out of his mistake.
Mrs Helena Muir, Watford, Hertfordshire

Ultimately the public will be the only losers, having to pay increased premiums
Robert, Belfast
This whole multi million pound industry only exist because the claims service of insurers is so appalling awful, both for their own policyholders but in particular the innocent drivers struck by their policyholders. This is without exception. The credit hire companies however, feel they are untouchable. Primarily this service was designed to benefit impecunious innocent parties following an accident, now there are 150k cars being hired out to millionaires, multi million pound businesses are taking cars on credit following an accident with their company car. Insurance premiums are most definitely going to rise, however, don't be fooled. The insurance companies themselves are cashing in on the credit hire success, either starting their own "sister credit hire company" or signing into deals with existing credit hire companies involving hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions, in "referral fees" every year. The insurers are in a win win situation, they will take a huge income as referral fees and increase premiums on the basis that credit hire is pushing up claims costs. Ultimately the public will be the only losers, having to pay increased premiums.
Robert, Belfast

An ambulance took my drivers side wing mirror off and made three dear little scratches to the wing of my Volkswagen van. The driver and his mate admitted liability and gave me all details etc. Now if I went to Volkswagen and got them to fit the mirror, they would have to charge me half an hour labour to fit it, total 135.00 and I could paint in the scratches. The van is 1997 registration and is worth about 1500. I was told not to drive it, so they hired me a van, 70 to deliver and 70 to pick it up, and 75 per day for 13 days, but I only had it for 12 days, then I had to pay 150 excess and 40 insurance waiver on hire van, which is almost the van's value. Absolute robbery.
Frank Witts, Hythe, Kent

As the driver who was "not at fault", I cannot believe I am having to go through this
Mhairi McDermott, Newcastle upon Tyne
After a car crashed into me in June 07, I was impressed with the speed at which I received a replacement car. However, last week I was obliged to attend court as the "defendant". His insurer has refused to pay the full cost of the replacement car, and because I had signed a credit agreement, it was me who faced court. If I hadn't paid a legal premium as part of my car insurance, I would be liable for the court costs too. The car hire charges are clearly extortionate, and the garage fixing my car took an inordinately long time, therefore pushing up the car hire costs even further. The case was adjourned and I will have to attend again in January, involving another half day off work. The actual amount in dispute (because the other driver's insurance company paid some of it) is 600. That is covered in court and solicitors costs alone. I had no idea that it would be me who was liable. Another issue is that my insurer recommended the car hire company. I pay insurance premiums and therefore I felt there was no need to question which company they said to use. However, the judge in the case has also questioned why I did not use a high street car hire company instead. As the driver who was "not at fault", I cannot believe I am having to go through this for simply extortionate and badly organised car hire.
Mhairi McDermott, Newcastle upon Tyne

No wonder our insurance costs are so high
Liz Weedon, Wigan
On September 12th I was involved in a car accident which was not my fault and the other driver admitted straight away to being culpable. I duly went through my insurance company and was told where to go to get my car repaired. As this was within walking distance of my home I told the company that I did not require a replacement car but was told that they would not sanction the repairs unless I took the replacement car. I inquired as to how long the repairs would take and was told three days. It actually took them 11 days to repair the car and in all this time the replacement car, which sat on my drive, cost 85 a day. I was badgered every second day during this time by an affiliate company who kept asking me about "injuries" and had there been anyone else in the car who had been injured. I got tired of replying in the negative to these questions. All in all I was thoroughly disgusted with the handling of this minor bump and the extortionate fees the other drivers insurance company would have to deal with. No wonder our insurance costs are so high.
Liz Weedon, Wigan

I am now a service manager but when I worked as a service advisor the incentives given by the companies who operate the schemes are part of the problem. I would receive 50 per successful referral plus a scratch card with a value between 10 and 25.00. When the supermarkets had their contaminated fuel problem in early 2007 I earned nearly 1,000 on referral commission within two weeks. So as a service advisor in a motor dealership earning from about 17,000 pa this can be quite a boost to your income!
Andrew Webb, Silverstone


The vast majority of the time extensive hire charges accrue simply due to lack of action taken by the insurer

Rohan Pickard, Liverpool

If somebody renders your car un-driveable and you need a car your only option is to hire and it is perfectly reasonable to do so. Hire charges are subject to the test of reasonableness and are not automatically payable, the use of a hire vehicle itself must be necessary, and the rate of hire must be the normal market rate. Increased hire charges are recoverable where the hire is provided on a credit hire basis but only where the claimant cannot afford to pay for the hire privately. The vast majority of the time extensive hire charges accrue simply due to lack of action taken by the insurer to settle the claimant's vehicle claim early on despite repeated chasing by the claimant, the hire company and the claimant's solicitors. If it were left to the insurer claimants would be left for weeks/months at a time with a damaged un-driveable vehicle which is clearly unfair to the innocent party.
Rohan Pickard, Liverpool


Does anyone care that I am the victim here?

Sian Evans, Swansea


An accident, not my fault, resulted in the third party supplying me a hire car. This hire company was supplied by my insurers. It took 120 days to replace my new car, the resulting bill was over 6K. My car new only cost 5.5.The third party thinks I have been unreasonable in keeping the hire car for that length of time, they are refusing to pay, and the hire company is coming after me for the 6K. I cant pay! Does anyone care that I am the victim here?
Sian Evans, Swansea

In 2004 my Porsche was hit my another car whilst parked up outside a shop. Obviously I wasn't the at fault driver as I wasn't even in the car. I was quoted 2 months to fix the car. It finally took 18 months. When they returned the car to my address, whilst taking off the transporter it was leaking oil still. Finally a couple of weeks later I was told the car could not be repaired. I received a courtesy car for the duration but after six months a bought myself a new car and returned the hire car saying I didn't need it. So I had a year without being supplied a car. When I settled with the insurance company, the at fault insurers, I took a 20,000 hit on what the car cost me! Then several months later received a bill from the car hire firm for 23,000. I told them that it wasn't me who owed the money but the at fault insurers. They then told me that they had said they have settled the claim and I would have to repay this amount! The car hire firm then took me to court and got a judgement against me. So believe it or not I had to pay the amount otherwise I would be blacklisted!
Heath Waterhouse, Manchester


To say I was shocked when court papers came through my letterbox was an understatement!

Mr Frodsham, Wakefield

I have been a victim of just this sort of behaviour. In December of last year I was involved in a slow speed bump. I cracked a number plate and the other person got a scratched bumper. Cost to me 10. The other person went to one of the "non fault accident management companies". The cost that my insurers had to pay? 3200. This involved two weeks of a hire car at over 200 a day for 14 days and a complete new bumper at 700. all for a scratch! My insurer disputed and refused to pay, so the other person took me to court. Naturally my insurance company handled all of this, but to say I was shocked when court papers came through my letterbox was an understatement!
Mr Frodsham, Wakefield

After recently colliding with the rear of a car whilst riding a bicycle I have been contacted by both a claims agent and a car costs recovery firm. Although the claims handlers phoned me and were very pleasant and professional, the car hire firm sent me standard letter that concluded with a threat of court action, quoting a section Road Traffic Act that does not apply to cyclists. I dread to think how much this claim will cost my home insurance company.
Greg Bale, High Wycombe


Never, ever again will I make the same mistake

Gary Mellish, Brentwood

My wife had a minor accident in May 2006, which was the fault of the other party. When I went to my usual dealer who services the car for a quote for the damage (as advised by my insurer). I was automatically put through to a firm who said they handled all of that dealerships car repairs. I was told there was no cost to me as it would be claimed back from the other insurer as the accident was seemingly not my fault. Within 24 hours I had signed an agreement for a replacement car. After two weeks the alarm bells started ringing. My own insurer didn't want to know, as I "had gone it alone". The agreement I had signed was a hire purchase agreement at 250 per day. The firm sent me an offer of indemnity insurance for 10 which I paid, covering any further costs which might arise. When the car was returned the minor damage had cost 3,000 and the car hire was 4,500. Liability by the other party was subsequently disputed and the whole family, including my 16-year-old daughter, who was in the car at the time of the accident, went to court in another county. This meant a day off work and school for everyone, being barracked and told we were liars by the defendants' lawyer. The stress this put on the family in the two years it took to be resolved was considerable. I still receive letters now as the lawyers handling the case are in dispute with their appointed barrister over her fees. Never, ever again will I make the same mistake.
Gary Mellish, Brentwood

I think that it is very reasonable that you should want a replacement car of a comparable nature in the event of a non fault accident. My insurance company would only give me a Micra when I had a crash which would not be sufficient to tow my horse box. I was able to hire a 4X4 with a towing arm which was then charged to the third party. If I had not done this I would have been out of pocket considerably. Insurance is there in order that no individual should be in a position where they would suffer financially from an incident that was not their fault.
Danny Williams, Northwich

These companies are deplorable
James Smith, Sheffield
The person hiring is forced to sign up to a credit hire agreement where they are told that they will not have to pay a penny. This is not true. If the innocent party could have afforded to hire a car from, say Hertz, out of their own funds then they are not allowed to claim credit hire rates which are the rates you mentioned on the breakfast programme this morning. The result is that the hire company is only able to recover the more cheaper rates... Yet the innocent party has signed up to a credit agreement for the higher rates and can be left holding the bill for the difference. These companies are a con and are only out to make money. They delay repairs and use all sorts of tactics to increase the hire costs. As part of the agreements signed, they also have the right to issue proceedings against the at fault party in the name of the innocent party. Sometimes without the knowledge of the innocent party which can end up with the innocent party being dragged to Court and sometimes hit with cost orders. These companies are deplorable.
James Smith, Sheffield


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.





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21 Nov 08 |  Moneybox
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