Hard-sell tactics to watch out for

As we explain in a previous article, there are two main ways of reducing excess liability in car hire: buying the supplier’s in-house cover (usually called SuperCover) or buying a private insurance (e.g. Top-Up Insurance). We also noted that suppliers really do want you to buy their in-house cover. They really, really, want you to buy it. It’s worth about 200 Euros to them: clean and easy money in the bank! But as we explained, buying the supplier’s in-house cover may not be so advantageous for you. For starters, it generally costs a lot more than private insurance. Secondly, it can be hard to know what the in-house cover actually includes. Even if you’ve already decided not to buy their in-house cover, this doesn’t always stop them from giving you the hard-sell. Below, we list a few of the common hard-sell tactics and how to avoid them.

Hard-sell no. 1: “Your credit card is no good”

First on the list is, “your credit card is no good”. If the supplier cannot keep the excess liability deposit blocked on your card for any reason, then you will be obliged to take their in-house cover, whether you like it or not. So you must make sure that your card is in order.


Before you leave, check with your bank or card issuer that your card is good for the kind of amount (1,300 euros or more) required for this pre-authorized block. Make sure it is okay outside UK, too. This is because there is often an overseas default limit of, say, 500 Pounds for any one single payment. This amount might need to be updated before travel. Also, make sure you have the correct PIN.

It is also not unknown for the agent to not even try to pass your card through the machine! So if you know your card is good but the supplier tells you it isn’t, you should ask to see the input terminal refusal.

Hard-sell no. 2: “You won’t be covered for roadside assistance”

Another tactic used is that they may tell you: “If you don’t take our SuperCover, you do not get roadside assistance. Towing charges will also apply.” It’s not uncommon for suppliers to use other scary statements of a similar nature.


Just tell them, with a knowing smile, that you know they are being economical with the truth. Of course there is roadside assistance. It is a clause on the primary contract along with an emergency number to call.

As for towing charges, the hirer is always liable anyway. At least until the reason for the breakdown has been established. Whoever is to blame, pays the towing. And in most cases, towing charges that apply to the hirer are recoverable on the Top-Up insurance.

Hard-sell no. 3: “What insurance do you have? Oh. That’s no good to us! You have to buy our insurance”

For this next tactic, the supplier wants you to believe that you have bought an invalid insurance. But they are playing with words. Your Top-Up insurance (or any other private insurance you might have) is completely valid. They are giving you a half-truth, because the insurance is of no value to them, as you are the beneficiary. But now you already know that.


You can pretty much ignore this particular tactic. Tell them they cannot make opinions about your private insurance, because it is just that – private. Tell them you are quite happy with the insurance you have. Or simply and politely decline their own cover again.

Finally, for your entertainment, Hard-sell no. 4, 5 and 6: Scare tactics

These can be lumped together as downright scare tactics. For instance: “Y’know, without our SuperCover you could end up paying for the whole value of the car in case of accident!”, and other statements of that ilk. The only way this could be true is if you were driving drunk, for instance so were negligent. And in that case, the supplier’s SuperCover won’t cover you either. Really, these are desperate, basic near untruths. When you get to these kind of utterances, you know you’ve won.


Tell them to stop messing around and get on with the contract please. Beware though: the frustration of having to go through these arguments can make you rush the part about checking over the condition of the car. Slow down. Deep breath. Patience. And enjoy the ride!

Make up your own mind

Here are more of our articles on car hire so you can get up to speed and make your own mind!