The hidden car hire cost of winter in Europe
ERJ staff report (TP)
London − Drivers have been warned to watch out for the hidden costs involved in hiring a car in Europe during the winter months, after a survey revealed car hire companies can charge up to £75 (€90.7) for 'winterisation', reported Daniel Edward for This is Money.
As many as 65 percent of car rental desks at European ski destinations charge extra for winter tires and snow chains even though these are mandatory in some areas, according to iCarhireinsurance.com.
The stand-alone excess insurance provider compared charges levied by Avis, Hertz, Sixt and Europcar.
“It’s frustrating that the rental companies use ‘winter’ as yet another opportunity to make money from their car hire customer but unfortunately it’s your responsibility and not the rental company’s to make sure that you’re driving with the correct equipment for wintery conditions,” said Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com.
The rules and regulations on winter tires and snow chains differ between countries.
In Austria, driving without winter tires between 1 November and 15 April could land the driver a fine of around €5,000. Your car may also be confiscated by the authorities.
Despite this, Sixt still charges £45 (€54.4) extra for winter tires and snow chains when hiring from Innsbruck, Austria.
Winter tires are not a legal requirement in some other snowy European countries.
However, if local signs call for drivers to carry snow chains in their vehicle, you are required to do so.
In the case of an accident, a motorist without winter tires has a greater chance of receiving the responsibility of any damaged caused by the collision.
EU laws regarding winter tires and snow chains:
Germany – winter or all season tires (M+S*) fitted during winter seasons.
Austria – winter tires (M+S*) fitted on snow covered roads from 1 November – 15 April.
France – carry snow chains and use as directed by local signs.
Switzerland – carry snow chains and use as directed by local signs. Winter tires are recommended.
Andorra – carry snow chains and use as directed by local signs.
Italy – carry snow chains and use as directed by local road signs. Winter tires are recommended.
*M+S tires – tires which have been designed to perform better in mud and snow.
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