Elderly drivers face being forced to pay ‘unfair’ extra costs

Dr Hilary discusses the risks for older drivers

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Elderly people may have difficulty hiring vehicles when on holiday and may be more at risk of being short-changed. Many car rental companies bury age restrictions in their terms and conditions documents, according to new research from Which?.

Some of the largest vehicle hire groups only ask prospective customers to confirm whether they are 30 when booking online.

This means drivers could be at the desk before discovering prohibitive age restrictions apply.

Similarly, when Which? used website rentalcars.com to find a car rental for an individual aged between 75 and 79, researchers were still presented with results that on further investigation, had age limits that would prevent them from being eligible.

To add to the confusion, age restrictions can often vary between locations, even when using the same company. 

Budget, for example, sets different age limits depending on whether drivers are hiring a vehicle in the mainland UK, Northern Ireland or the Shetland Islands.

Visitors to Jersey and Isle of Man will again see different age restrictions in place. 

Even those companies that do accept older drivers often require a prohibitive amount of paperwork, or else add on “senior driver” fees.

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, warned elderly drivers of the extra charges they may face when looking to rent a car.

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He said: “Legally, companies are often within their rights to adjust their prices and policies on the basis of age, if they have a justifiable reason, but we’re increasingly seeing cases where the outcomes for older customers seem disproportionate and unfair.

“If you are an older traveller, it’s important to shop around and compare the rates on offer, as there’s likely to be a great deal of variation between providers, both for insurance and car hire. 

“It’s also worth seeking out firms that offer preferential rates for the older traveller.”

Fees for older drivers are also often exorbitant, with the research finding that a fortnight’s rental from Malaga Airport ranges between €60 (£52.5) and €252 (£219.23).

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In Malta, Sixt charges an additional €6.50 or £5.65 per day for those over the age of 70.

Which? has also found evidence of older travellers being penalised because of digital exclusion. 

Those in older age groups who may lack technological skills will likely end up paying more as a result.

Saga, which offers insurance exclusively to the over 50s, charges as much as 30 percent less for those who book online.

Airlines including British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet all charge customers more to amend a booking by phone, while Ryanair passengers will pay an additional £55 to check in at the airport. 

Even renewing a passport costs £9.50 more if using a paper application. 

However, data from the DVLA found that online driving licence renewals for over 70s have soared in recent years.

As many as six out of 10 elderly drivers are now using the DVLA’s online application services to apply for their new licence.

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