No Goldcar insurance policy … no keys for a hire car to get going in Spain.

We had already bought our own but we feared getting stranded if we didn’t pay

I used Expedia to book a flight to Spain and a car rental with Goldcar.Since the insurance included in rental is minimal, I bought a fully comprehensive policy from a third-party company. At the Goldcar desk at Almeira airport, I was told I must pay extra, including a premium for its insurance policy.

I repeatedly showed her the insurance policy I had, but she insisted she could not hand over the keys until I’d bought Goldcar’s. I was worried we’d be stranded, so paid the €261.40 premium. I complained to Expedia but it eventually told me it could not help.

FD, Formby

Here’s a tip: Google any businesses you plan to spend money with. If you had, you would see your experience is echoed by many others.

The Spanish company, which has become part of Europcar, is notorious for insisting customers buy its comprehensive insurance policy on top of the basic insurance included – or else forfeit the rental.

Some of those who have contacted the Observer in the past claim insurance was never mentioned – they were simply asked to sign a document in Spanish in return for the keys and only found out they had been charged for an unwanted policy when their bank statement came through. The only insurance legally required for drivers is a collision damage waiver, third-party cover and theft protection, all of which were in the Expedia quote.

If, to avoid a hefty excess, customers choose to pay extra for fully comprehensive insurance from another company, car hire firms should usually accept this, although they may ringfence a sum on your credit card if the policy proves inadequate.

You, like others, were required to sign paperwork in Spanish, which included an airport surcharge. Even if you had been able to translate them, terms like “super relax cover”, “mega relax cover” and “smart fuel return option” would make little more sense.

Goldcar ignored three requests for a comment. Expedia told us: “Policies differ between each provider, so it is important to double-check the rules and restrictions page, which states the services included in the rate you have chosen. Third-party insurance in specific circumstances may not be eligible, so always call the provider and check the rules before travelling.”

Expedia declined to answer whether it was comfortable doing business with a company with such a track record, but, significantly, has decided to refund the €261.50 charge as “a goodwill gesture”.

If you need help email Anna Tims at or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission is subject to our terms and conditions