Car Hire Travel Tips

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Hiring a car at your destination is a great way to enjoy a bit more freedom while on holiday – but what should you watch out for if you want to avoid hefty and unexpected bills? We reveal all…

1. Do your research on the car hire companies at your destination

Fees vary hugely between companies, as do reputations, so don’t get too hung up on a bargain – they may try to recoup the difference in “damages” claims.

2. Get car hire excess insurance before you go

Car hire excess insurance, also known as car rental insurance, should be purchased before you go so you don’t have to take out the hire company’s own insurance. The excess insurance from hire companies is usually pretty limited cover and has an array of exclusions that practically guarantee you’ll have to pay out upon your return.  Car hire excess insurance from, on the other hand, not only insures for the excess on damage, but can cover the car for total loss up to £50,000, similar to a CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) policy.

TIP: Some car hire companies don’t like it when people arrive with their own car hire excess insurance, as it reduces their potential for profit, so they may try and tell you that the insurance you have purchased is not valid. Not true! They may also say you need to get extra insurance to specifically cover windscreen, tyres and the undercarriage – you won’t need this if you have arranged your car hire excess with 

3. Familiarise yourself with your destination’s Highway Code

Rules of the road vary between countries so it is worth brushing up on what you should do to avoid breaking the law and risking a fine, as well as avoiding an accident! For example, all vehicles in the EU have to be equipped with high-vis jackets for every passenger and a warning sign. Learning some local lingo to understand road signs is also worthwhile!

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4. Take a fresh credit card 

It’s not unusual for car hire companies to ask for a pre-authorised sum to cover costs, especially if you tell them you don’t want their excess insurance because you have your own. Depending on their T&Cs you may also need to pre-pay fuel costs. Speaking of which…

5. Read the T&Cs!

To avoid unexpected charges after returning your vehicle make sure you know the fuel policy, and the mileage limit.

6. Take pictures or videos of the vehicle inside and out before and after your trip

In the (very likely) event of being held responsible for damage to the vehicle it is incredibly useful to be able to show photographic or video evidence of its condition before and after hire. Even a small chip to the paintwork could result in a hefty repair charge from a car hire company.

7. Keep an eye on your statement once back home

The reason we suggest taking a fresh credit card with you solely for car hire is that it is easy to see any transactions that have taken place during your holiday and after you return. Not only do you want to check that fuel and damage deductions have been charged correctly and that your deposit has been returned – it is wise to ensure no mysterious payments come out over the following months.

8. Remember you still need travel insurance!

Lost luggage, illness, injury or repatriation all need separate cover even if you have car hire excess insurance!

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