Avoiding Problems with Hiring Cars Abroad
Should I buy excess when I hire a car abroad?
Costs vary depending on the company but this can add a significant amount to your total bill. If you don’t have this extra insurance you could end up paying a substantial amount of money if you dent the car or have an accident. This decision rests with you but I have never had paid for the extra insurance and not had an accident but if you have not driven abroad before, it may be a good idea to have the extra insurance for your first drive on foreign soil.
There are now a number of insurance firms that specifically offer this extra insurance, so you don’t have to fork out to your car hire company. Often these separate policies are cheaper and have very low excesses.
- Take out a separate policy for the extra insurance. There are both daily and annual policies available. Telephone your own insurance before booking the car.
- Ensure you check the company’s policy thoroughly though, as some may not cover you for tyres, the windscreen, roof, undercarriage and the keys.
- If you damage a tyre, just replace it with a new one, this will be half the price of your deposit
Are there any exclusions when hiring a car abroad?
Many people are surprised when they learn that, even if they pay for extra insurance (SCDW), the windscreen, wheels, tyres, roof or undercarriage of the vehicle aren’t covered by the hire company’s policy.
If you damage any of these parts of the car, or even if someone else does, you’ll still be liable to pay for the repairs, and the repair bill could be very costly.
This is common with hire companies but lets put this into perspective, how often do you damage your windscreen or tyres, not often.
Before taking the car, you must check the car with the company present, for any dents or other damage, agree these in writing. This is also common, the hire companies use an image of the car and place ” x” where there is damage. Ok, off you go. the keys are another item which may not be covered by the insurance and if damaged, broken or lost, you may lose your deposit. Obviously this is not liable to happen but just be aware, there is a cost if damaged.
What you can do
- Register your ‘protest’ if you feel you’re being unfairly charged for damage you didn’t cause.
- Register your complaint with the local police, they will file a report
- If the charge for a particular service, such as a tyre, seems excessive, tell the hire firm you require evidence that it cost the amount you’re being quoted.
- If you damage a tyre, just replace it yourself, at very little cost, rather than lose the deposit, which could be much larger
What if I don’t get what I ordered online?
One of the easiest ways to hire a car abroad is to do it online or over the phone before you travel. You’ll usually have to choose the size of car in advance and prices depend on which one you opt for – make sure you get the one you’ve paid for. In theory this is fine but the small print may say, “we reserve the right to supply a car with similar specifications” . If the car has the same specifications, you then have to accept this.
What you can do about it
If you don’t get the car you paid for, then you are entitled to claim back any fee you have to pay in order to obtain what was initially promised in your car hire contract.
How do I pay for fuel when hiring a car abroad?
If this is an option, always drive the car away full and return it full. The contents of the fuel tank can cause a dispute when it comes to hiring a car. Companies have different policies and it’s worthwhile finding, before hiring a car.
There are usually three options:
- Take the car with a full tank and return full
- Buy a full tank and return empty
- Pay the hire company for what you use
1. The easiest is option and usually works out as the cheapest. Just check out the nearest petrol station when hiring the car or ask where the nearest one is. Oh, and check out opening times !
2. This option is probably the most expensive, as often the petrol provided is charged at a premium rate. If you return with half a tank, there is no refund.
3. They may charge a premium for the petrol you use.
Questions you should always ask before hiring a car
- What their fuel policy is before you hire a car.
- If possible, always drive the car away full and return it full.
- Take note of the nearest petrol station so you know where to fill up on your return.
Are package deals better for car hire abroad?
As well as hiring a car independently, it’s also possible to rent a car as part of a package holiday. The advantage of package deals is the security you gain from knowing that holiday providers are regulated by ABTA and therefore will be bonded.
Some operators will only hire cars in week-long blocks and may not provide a breakdown of the cost in their literature.
Tour operators or the hotels may only have a relationship with one hire company and may add their commission fee to any quote.