January 08, 2014 10:06 ET

65% of Car Rental Desks at European Ski Destinations Charge Extra for 'Winterisation'

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwired - Jan. 8, 2014) - Skiers hiring cars need to be up to speed on whether they need winter tyres and snow chains in the country they're hiring in, otherwise they (and not the rental company) could face a EUR5,000 fine.

iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone excess insurance, has looked at five popular ski gateways in Europe and compared the 'winterisation' charges levied by the rental companies of Avis, Hertz, Sixt and Europcar.

Winterisation charges, which include winter tyres and snow chains, can be compulsory charges and usually have to be paid for on arrival when picking up the hire car. The cost varies enormously amongst the five researched destinations of Geneva, Turin, Innsbruck, Barcelona and Sophia (Bulgaria), from £75 with Avis in Barcelona, to £45 with Hertz in Geneva to only £14 in Sophia with Sixt.

The rules and regulations on winter tyres and snow chains vary between countries. In Austria, for instance, driving without winter tyres between 1 November and 15 April could leave the driver liable for a fine of around EUR5,000 as well as losing your car to the impound lot. Despite this, Sixt still charges an additional £45 for winter tyres and snow chains when hiring from Innsbruck.

Winter tyres are not compulsory in Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria, however, if local signs indicate that snow chains should be carried in the vehicle, you are required to do so and if an accident were to occur a motorist without winter tyres would have a far greater chance of receiving the responsibility of any damage incurred from the collision.

Travellers are advised to research the 'winterisation' charge that each rental company levies, while also taking into account the original rental cost. For example, a traveller hiring from Geneva would be compelled to pay a compulsory 'winterisation' charge from Sixt costing £42; could choose to pay for winter tyres from Hertz for a fee of £48; while Avis and Europcar include the cost in their original car hire fee.

"It's frustrating that 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. "We advise that you shop around and make sure that you factor in the 'winterisation' cost."

Contact Information