The Difference Between a Courtesy Car and a Credit Hire Car

author image - crispin

By Crispin Bateman

on Thursday 13 December 2018

A row of brand new cars

When you’ve been in a road traffic accident that is not your fault, you might be heavily inconvenienced. After all, you were doing nothing wrong – just driving and paying attention to the road.

It’s not your fault, so why should you suffer difficulties and a loss of earnings due to injury or other financial issues?

Non Fault Claims can help you claim for compensation after a car crash that wasn't your fault, and help you get back on the road with a replacement car - usually, that's a credit hire vehicle, which is often the best option. With courtesy cars also available through your own insurance, what's the difference? We're here to explain.

What is the difference between a courtesy car and a credit hire car?

Simply put, a courtesy car is provided to you by your insurance company as a small helpful extra, whereas a credit hire car is a proper contacted like-for-like replacement vehicle to compensate you for the lack of your own.

One way of looking at this is that a courtesy car is a favour, and a credit hire car is a professional contract.

There are pros and cons to both, and both are designed to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

What is a courtesy car?

A courtesy car is one provided by your insurance company (or third-party provider on their behalf) for you to use while your own damaged vehicle is being repaired.

It is a minimum-level replacement for your car, meaning that even if your day-to-day vehicle is a luxury Mercedes, or a seven-seater MPV to fit your family, your courtesy car is likely to be a 1.0 litre compact hatchback – think Vauxhall Corsa, or Renault Clio.

Unfortunately, this means it is unlikely to meet your needs.

There are various courtesy car rules, as well, which can mean it’s far from being a friendly favour - you find yourself in a car insurance courtesy car trap, where the small print in your insurance details works against you without your complete understanding.

Some of the issues with courtesy cars include:

  • Poor quality replacement, ill-suited to your needs.
  • Requirement that you use the insurance company’s chosen garage for repair.
  • Limited time (often as short as three weeks), leading you to potentially having no car once this time is over and yours is still not fully repaired.
  • Additional hidden fees, including substantial penalties for minor scratches, or excess mileage.
  • Unable to get a courtesy car in many insurance claims - for example, if your car is stolen, or considered a total loss, otherwise known as a “write off”.

While getting a courtesy car can feel like a free replacement vehicle from a nice and helpful insurance company, it is important that you scour your courtesy car policy details to avoid any confusion and potentially expensive mistakes.

Is a courtesy car free?

It may seem like it is, but you will have (perhaps unsuspectingly) paid for your courtesy car whether as a standard or optional extra included in your car insurance policy.

Choosing car insurance which does not include a courtesy car will save on your annual premium.

What is credit hire?

In contrast to a courtesy car, a credit hire car is a like-for-like replacement hire vehicle which can be provided to you if your current vehicle is off the road due to a non-fault accident.

Like-for-like replacement car

One of the biggest problems with a courtesy car or poorly specified credit hire vehicle is the chance of receiving a replacement car that does not meet your needs.

With a properly sourced credit hire car, you will be presented with a car similar (if not identical) to your original car in terms of practicality, presentation and any other factor important to you.

More than simply making sure you are not left without a vehicle after an accident, a like-for-like credit hire car goes as far as possible to provide a seamless continuation of your normal life despite the collision.

Unlimited term

Where a non-fault accident courtesy car provided as part of your insurance will have a limited term of use applied onto it (typically as short as three weeks), it is possible to get a credit hire car with an effective unlimited term of hire – making sure you remain on the road until the effects of the accident are completely resolved.

This means you will be entitled to your credit hire car until your main vehicle is completely repaired or, in the case of a total loss, you have received correct and adequate financial recompense.

What does credit hire mean?

A credit hire car is not free – as the name suggests, the car is hired to you on credit, meaning you don’t need to pay anything up front or as the hire continues.

The final cost of the hire is covered as part of the compensation you receive from the at-fault insurers leaving you happily with nothing to pay.

Liability and credit hire problems

Due to the nature of the credit contract, the at-fault party is liable for the cost of the credit hire car. Should it be found in court that you were at-fault for the incident, it is possible for the cost of the hire to fall on your shoulders. For this reason, it is inadvisable to enter into a credit hire contract without specialist legal assistance.

At Non Fault Claims, we are experts in assessing and completing non-fault accident compensation claims and work with a selection of preferred partners in providing credit hire cars.

As part of our service, Non Fault Claims advise on the validity of any road traffic accident compensation case, and will not recommend a credit hire car if we do not believe with absolute certainty that the final cost of the car hire will be recovered from the insurance company charged with covering costs for the at-fault party.

How do I make a claim for my non-fault accident?

As you stand in the cold and stare at your car, rear crushed, brake light and indicator casing all smashed and lying in pieces on the road, many thoughts go through your mind and one of them is bound to be “How am I going to get around while this gets fixed?”.

Give us a call at Non Fault Claims - whether that's for a replacement vehicle or to claim for compensation to cover the costs.

Our experienced team will assess your case and work throughout the claim process to see a positive financial outcome – making sure you get back on the road with a replacement vehicle as soon as possible.

We work on a No Win No Fee basis, with no hidden fees or confusing small print. This means we tie our success in with your case and work with you to do our finest work, ensuring a positive outcome for you.

Fill in our contact form to have one of our professional advisors call you back at a time convenient to you, or simply give us a call today!

0808 1454275

Non Fault Claims can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!

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