Elderly drivers urged to sue car rental firms who won't give them hire vehicles

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Over-70s should make County Court claims for compensation [file pic] (Image: Getty Images)
Over-70s should make County Court claims for compensation [file pic] (Image: Getty Images)

Ministers are urging elderly drivers to sue car rental companies who refuse to hire to them because of age.

Work and Pensions minister Deborah Stedman-Scott said over 70s affected should make County Court claims for compensation under equality laws.

She added: “It is unlawful age discrimination for a car hire company to refuse, on age grounds, to lease a vehicle to an otherwise qualified person.”

And before leaving government for personal reasons last week, Baroness Stedman-Scott warned rental companies would have to show “objective justification” for refusal for a case to fail.

The move follows an investigation by consumer champions Which? showing some rental firms had age limits stopping those between 75 - 79 hiring a car.

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Most larger companies have no such restrictions, but smaller franchises hide them in the small print.

Elderly drivers urged to sue car rental firms who won't give them hire vehiclesSmaller franchises hide restrictions in the small print. (Getty Images)

That means an elderly motorist who thinks they have booked a car may find they cannot drive it away when they turn up to collect.

And to add to the confusion age limits and extra charges imposed by firms can vary depending where you are. Older drivers collecting a car in Spain can find insurance costs quadrupling to more than £220 for a fortnight.

Over 75s in Northern Ireland must show one firm a doctor’s note they are fit to drive and undergo an assessment.

And there are different age rules for companies hiring for Jersey, the Isle of Man and the Shetlands.

Guy Hobbs of Which? said: “We’re increasingly seeing cases where the outcomes for older customers seem disproportionate and unfair.

“If you are an older traveller it’s important to shop around.”

Over 50s group SAGA has its own discount scheme set up with Hertz adding: “Age, wisdom and experience should be rewarded.

“Regulations overseas are leaving senior travellers stranded after they are deemed “too old” to hire the car they reserved.”

Over 70s need to apply for a new licence every three years and as the population ages DVLA has seen renewals soar in recent years.

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Nigel Nelson

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