One in five hire car drivers have found damage on vehicles which was not highlighted on the checkout sheet.

Existing damage not noted on the checkout sheet could leave drivers liable to excess charges of up to £2,000 in Europe, according to iCarhireinsurance.com.

The insurance provider commissioned a survey of over 2,000 hire car drivers that found 21% have discovered pre-existing damage on a hire car not highlighted when the car was collected.

But iCarhireinsurance.com said this figure could be much higher as only 37% said they check a hire car fully at pick up for damage, including the wheels and tyres.

Over one in ten claims to iCarhireinsurance are for damage to the tyres, windscreen or undercarriage of the vehicle.

The insurer said only 21% of customers take photographs of the vehicle’s current state before driving off.

It also found 12% have been told by a rental car representative that it was not necessary to note down minor damage on the checkout sheet, and 13% have returned a car without it being checked.

Many travellers have felt in danger of being ripped off by the rental companies with over half (51%) believing that rental companies will charge for damage already on a vehicle and 14% have worried the whole holiday about scratching or damaging the car.

Three quarters of respondents think for damage charges to be fair, rental companies should be required to get two quotes for the repair, and the same number agreed that the repairs should be carried out.

Ernesto Suarez, founder and chief executive, of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: “It really is worth taking the time to have a thorough check over of a hire car before driving it away to ensure that every mark and scuff is documented on the checkout sheet.

“Small scratches may seem insignificant but could actually cost hundreds to repair. It also doesn’t take long to take a few photos at the start and end of the hire to stop any potential disputes.”

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