The safety of your child is paramount – nothing comes close. One area of safety that features very highly on a parent’s internal list is that of travel. There are many more factors to consider when travelling with your child, and some are entirely unpredictable. This notion is particularly true when travelling by car as, on the whole, there are many more dangers present on today’s busy roads than there are in your own home for example. Whilst parents strive to keep the accoutrement associated with infants in prime, safe and comfortable conditions – there are circumstances where they may be less than happy with the quality or conditions of the equipment available to them. This can be particularly true when hiring a car and using the optional extra child seats.
Child seats for cars have come a long way since the chairs of the early 20th century that were simply designed to restrain a child – not protect them. Recent developments in materials and manufacturing processes mean that child seats feature a high degree of safety features such as side protection, head and neck bracing as well as fancy reclining mechanisms. Features such as these add a lot more than just safety as they also provide comfort which, as any parent who values their sleep knows, is extremely important.
More often than not, parents invest in the best child seat that money can buy. One eventuality that a parent cannot plan for is the use of a borrowed or rented seat – particularly in a rented car. In this day and age of corporate liability it would make sense for rental companies to provide the best service for parents and children when providing seating solutions. This, however, is not always true as recent research conducted by iCarhireinsurance reveals. As much as 12% of rental customers have expressed concern over the safety of their child due to the condition of their car seat. A further 16% went on to state that when they received the car seat it was ‘dirty and tatty’. The research goes on to expand upon the research’s findings, stating that over 37% of rental car users were left to their own devices when it came to actually installing the seat in their car – whether it was from a lack of staff instruction or the absence of written guides. This is a somewhat worrying figure as it suggests the possibility of installing the seat incorrectly which could render the seat ineffective in its purpose – securing the child safely. This could leave the seat open to failure in situations ranging from heavy breaking to serious accidents.
Ernesto Suarez, industry expert and Chief Executive at iCarhireinsurance stated: “When you’re spending around £60 to rent a child seat – as much as it would cost new – as a minimum it should be clean, in good condition and provided with clear fitting instructions. Parents are absolutely entitled to expect that their most precious and vulnerable passengers are comfortable, safe and secure.”
To avoid these pitfalls there are a few key points that are worth remembering:
- Always ring ahead and inquire about the rental firm’s child seats.
- Find out whether assistance will be provided with the seat’s installation and plan ahead if you think you might arrive out of the company’s rental hours.
- Bring a thin blanket to cover the child seat in the event that it is dirty – make sure it does not hinder the seat’s functionality or increase the likelihood of the child slipping from the harness in the event of an accident.
- If it is practical, try and source a child seat from friends and family and make sure you receive installation guidance before you use it. This could save you money but would create one more thing to carry!
This article was written by Matt Chappell on behalf of iCarhireinsurance.com, specialists in third party car hire excess insurance.