Dodging the pitfalls of holiday car hire

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If you, like me have rented a few hire cars for your holidays you may be wise to the pitfalls by now. If you haven’t then my advice would be to prepare yourself for a lack of customer service and absence of politeness at the rental desk. Which makes it essential to know your facts in advance in what can easily become an awkward situation.

Book the right fuel preferences

The holiday car hire companies will try their hardest to make more money from you and your rental agreement. One of the ways they do this is to offer a full to empty policy for your rental. Avoid this at all costs. As although they maintain they will refund you the cost of any unused fuel. They will charge you to refuel the car. This is non-negotiable and even if you return the car full, they will still charge you as part of the original policy agreement.

Avoid excess charges

One of the biggest add-on charges at the rental desk is to cover the Excess on the car in case of an accident or any damage during your rental term. Did you know that European car hire companies are fully liable for any damages to their hire cars as they are the insurance holders? This means that although they have the right to pass on this full liability to you when you hire one of their fleet, they waive their right to ask you to pay for all the damage. This is the CDW often listed as included in your rental agreement. As is Theft protection (TP)  and third party insurance (TPL). LDW which often appears on the agreement is a combination of CDW and TP.

Car hire companies can take payment from customers for some damages. This is what is termed the ‘Excess’. This varies greatly between the rental companies and is the maximum the driver will pay towards repairing damage to the bodywork, windscreen etc.

Car hire companies will offer you extra insurance to cover the ‘Excess’. And it is wise to purchase it avoid any payout for damages. However,  Excess insurance can be purchased at a much cheaper rate online and can be upgraded to include personal accident insurance, vehicle cancellation and key loss. Most bespoke excess policies will also include towing charges, which the rental company make try to make you cover separately at the rental desk.

Make sure you have a credit card

Debit cards are not accepted for the mandatory deposit on your car. So the main driver must be in possession of a Credit Card in their own name when collecting the keys for the rental car. It is also essential that the credit card also has enough funds to cover the excess/deposit payment. Without this, the car hire company will not let you pick up the car and your booking will be void. Which means if you have paid in advance you will lose your money.

Late arrivals

There is a general rule in the car hire rental business that if a car is not collected within two hours of the allocated pick up time, it may no longer be available and no funds will be reimbursed. However, it is always best to check the fine print on your policy as some companies have just an hour cut off time. Others are more lenient. So always provide your flight details with your booking and make sure you call your car hire company if you know you are going to be delayed.  Alternatively, check to see if this is covered by your personal travel insurance. You may have the opportunity claim back lost rental funds separately.

Don’t forget to print your voucher in full, including everything that is included in your policy. This help the staff know exactly what you have booked including any extra drivers or equipment. It’s one less thing they can harass you about!

Posted by Sam Stone

Sam Stone

Sam has been involved in the creative arts industries for over twenty-five years in both France and the UK, working with a variety of specialised businesses and publishers. She is a freelance writer, whose work includes travel blogs, web content and script writing.

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