COVID meets BHR

A few days ago, I wrote a note suggesting the steps that everyone should take to stay ahead of the upcoming BHR arguments that we know are coming based on the current swathe of discounted rental offers available for NHS staff, emergency works and others that might be considered essential workers.

With many thanks to Dean Roberts at DPR Solutions (admin@dprsolutionsltd.com) who produces highly successful rebuttal statements, Jonathan McKeown at Crash Services and Arabella Ferris from Concierge Claims Management, as well as a bit of work I carried out myself, I have assembled the information below which might prove useful in rebutting the inevitable drivel coming your way from Which Rate and others in three to six months’ time.

Arnold Clark, who are also a CHO, said that their rental locations were not accepting bookings between 24th March – 20th April 2020. They will review the position after that date and updste accordingly.

Avis/Budget have closed most of their branches with only the following limited number of branches open on Monday to Friday between 0800 and 1600:

Battersea

Birmingham

Bournemouth

Bracknell

Bristol North

Cardiff

Castleford

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport

Enfield

Heathrow Airport

Leeds

London Euston

Maidstone

Manchester

Manchester Airport

Norwich Airport

Plymouth

Staines

Stockton on Tees

Swindon

The full list, including details of the branches which are closed, can be found at the ridiculously long link below:

https://abg-my.sharepoint.com/personal/x640866_em_abg_com/_layouts/15/onedrive.aspx?id=%2Fpersonal%2Fx640866%5Fem%5Fabg%5Fcom%2FDocuments%2FLaura%2FUK%20Store%20Opening%20Times%20for%20the%20Website%2Epdf&parent=%2Fpersonal%2Fx640866%5Fem%5Fabg%5Fcom%2FDocuments%2FLaura&originalPath=aHR0cHM6Ly9hYmctbXkuc2hhcmVwb2ludC5jb20vOmI6L3AveDY0MDg2Nl9lbS9FZlhlNXN0S01aWkJoVWpJZm1rM1JNc0JTa1FMTm9zYlBLOUhaV2IwWUNKdXF3P3J0aW1lPU5BZ291VXZhMTBn

If the link proves too much, go the Avis car hire web site and click the Corona viruus link. The information is displayed there.

In terms of more regional information, in Northern Ireland rates from Budget are down because of what the rental branch called a surplus of fleet availability - a medium size car was offered at £232 for a fortnight with £1,000 damage deposit. The rental staff would not discuss anything else relating to the current crisis.

Regarding Avis Prestige, some of their rental stations are closed, delivery is not possible through the full Avis network, but the head office would not supply details of which locations were closed or whether the hours matched those advertised for Avis. In fact, their head office is now only open from 9am to 3pm (Monday to Friday) and 9am to 11am on Saturday. As with both Sixt and Enterprise (discussed below), all vehicles are being offered at normal Avis Prestige prices i.e. at this stage, there appears to be no Covid inspired discounts.

One that made me smile was the response from Kingdom Car Hire in Northern Ireland where the person who took the call could not speak because he was out shopping. Legend!

Following Government guidelines for social distancing Thrifty has taken the decision to limit general retail rental business and only support key workers until further notice. Key workers are defined as NHS Staff, Fire Service, Police Forces, Local Government, Military, Food Deliveries/ Essential Supplies. They declined to share their relevant rates which are not advertised online during the current crisis. However, there is now a minimum 7-day rental period.

SIXT reported that “the global SIXT network generally remains in operation”. From a cursory review, it appears that neither 1-day or 7-day rates have been reviewed upwards or downwards because of the Coronavirus challenge.

Armagh City Hire is closed until 1st May.

A lot of Enterprise rates have been reduced in line with reduced demand for hire although several branches have also been closed and some rental locations will have reduced hours of operation until further notice. For those CHOs that expect to be challenged with BHR evidence where the Enterprise rate is typically used to support BHR, it may make sense to review and record which branches are closed.

Many Europcar branches are closed and so their £5 offer for NHS workers can be challenged for non-NHS workers but also so too can any rates alleged to have been obtained from those branches that are closed. They include:

Bath

Bedford

Belfast City Airport

Birmingham Halesowen

Bolton

Brighton

Bristol Airport

Bristol Horfield

Cardiff Airport

Chelmsford

Darlington

Dartford

East Midlands Airport

Edinburgh Waverley

Exeter Airport

Hamilton

Hull

Humberside Airport

Inverness Airport

Inverness Eastgate

Lancaster

Morecambe

Leeds Bradford Airport

Lincoln

London Bayswater

London City Airport

London Edgware

London Finchley

London Lewisham

London Marble Arch

London Paddington

London Putney Bridge

London Southend Airport

London Victoria

Luton Downtown

Manchester Piccadilly

Milton Keynes

Newcastle Airport

Newcastle Rail Station

Newport

Newquay Airport

Penzance

Portadown

Portsmouth Harbour

Prestwick

Southampton Airport

Stirling

Stockport

Stratford International

Tamworth

Telford

Warrington

In addition, around 50 other branches are opening only during the week and at reduced hours. Delivery and Collection can no longer be guaranteed.

Hertz claim that their branches remain open but, after conducting several searches for separate locations, the result returned was that either ‘the branch is closed’ or ‘DZX006-77-ERR-76783-41 - We are unable to process your request. Please try your submission again or Contact Us for assistance. [DZX006]’ or similar.

Practical Car Rental report that some locations have closed temporarily.

It is worth remembering that these issues have relevance where insurers are making offers to intervene (either in or out of the GTA protocol). In the protocol, insurer subscribers should not be making such approaches and it is worth making a formal complain to the GTA Technical Committee where they are. If ever there was a more cynical attempt to reduce costs and increase their profits because of the Covid 19 crisis, it is hard to imagine. That aside, more than ever it is important to enquire behind the substance of any intervention offer as to who, how and what car will be delivered and whether it will be delivered in an appropriate manner. Europcar explained that their policy is to wipe down cars using the correct sanitising sprays before the cars go out at the branch. They are not then sanitised by the driver at the delivery point, the clients address. Clearly, should the driver be infected or anyone else who enters the vehicle on route if the car is being used as a runner, there is a risk to the Client and other members of their household. Arabella Ferris of CCM referred me to a useful guide from Toyota. It highlights 40 key areas in a vehicle which need to be thoroughly cleaned to minimise any risk of contracting the virus. I doubt that all of these are being adhered to across the board on hire vehicle delivery but I would suggest that any intervention offer is put to proof as to how they can mitigate the risk of a claimant being asked to surrender a car that he or she is comfortable with in favour of a car that may be a health risk. The advice from Toyota is in the public domain:

https://media.toyota.co.uk/2020/03/toyota-tips-on-how-to-keep-your-car-germ-free/

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