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Andrew Daniel

Andrew leads our Operational Team and is our expert when it comes to all the ins and outs of car hire excess insurance.

Zipcar now owned by Avis but Insurance is unchanged

Considering Zipcar membership? Should you buy their Damage Fee Waiver on the £750 excess? We look at their charges and the alternatives.

Brett Akker, one of the original founders of Streetcar, taken over by Zipcar in 2010 hopes new owners Avis don't change Zipcar's entrepreneurial spirit. Avis bought out Zipcar last week for $500m, a move which alarmed many of its 767,000 worldwide members.

Mr Akker who no longer works for Zipcar but maintains a keen interest in the industry said: "By all means make the most of being part of a big company, but also keep what's great about the business”.

Zipcar charges its members an annual membership fee of £59.50 in the UK. Members are supplied with a cardkey and can book and use cars charged by the hour or day. The charges vary by location and time but start at £5 per hour and £49 per day for weekday use. The rates include fuel, insurance, congestion charges where applicable and the first 40 miles of usage per day. You get that 40 miles regardless of whether you rent for an hour, two or a full day. Additional mileage costs from 25p per mile depending on vehicle type.

In common with more conventional car rental, Zipcar have a substantial excess which you have to pay if the car is damaged. This is £750 for most members and £1000 for higher risk members. Anyone aged 19-24 or with 4 or more points on their licence or who has had an accident in the last 3 years is considered higher risk.

Over 21′s can pay for a damage fee waiver to reduce or eliminate the fee but they're a bit coy with the pricing on the website. You can only find out prices by taking out membership or phoning their call centre. According to the membership contract, you can only buy this Damage Fee Waiver if you are over 21 and have not had an accident in a Zipcar vehicle during the past 12 months.

The Damage Fee Waiver costs £9.95 per month to reduce the excess to £250 and £14.95 to remove the excess completely. Misfuelling is considered to be negligence and is not covered at all. Neither is damage to a Zipcar vehicle's tyres or windscreen or windows. Once selected, the Damage Fee Waiver is a rolling contract, so don't forget to turn it off when you don't intend to rent a car that month. If you forget, you could pay up to £179.40 per year to remove your excess.

Cheaper and more comprehensive excess solutions are available. Our car club insurance comparison has policies from under £40 for a years cover. We cover both dedicated car club insurance policies and combined car hire policies which include cover for car clubs.

Windscreens, tyres and windows are all covered on all of the policies we compare with misfuelling and lost key and lost membership card cover also available. You can even get £500 of cover for personal possessions stolen from the hire vehicle.

For £55 you can get comprehensive Worldwide annual cover for both car clubs and normal hire car cover as well.

Car club membership can be worthwhile for frequent users, especially if you only need the car for an hour or two, but also consider car hire, no membership fees and you'll have to use traditional car hire anyway if a Car Club car isn't available when and where you need it.