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How to avoid car hire pitfalls

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More than two million Britons hire a car on their holidays abroad every year. However each year, many complaints are made about hidden charges for insurance they never wanted or for accidents they never had. A new crackdown is being looked at to tackle these issues, but at Autonet, we have looked at some ways you can avoid these pitfalls and enjoy your holiday.

Booking your car

Booking a car abroad could not be easier in any sense of the word. Airports have dozens of companies willing to provide you a car for your trip, and some comparison sights even search the best deals out for you so you don’t have to shop around.

Booking a car is as simple as choosing where you want to pick the car up and drop it off, select what dates, and your preferred vehicle engine size. Extras can be added such as satnavs and child seats, with child seats be compulsory for children under three in Europe.

The small print

Always make sure to read the fine print before making any payments or agreements. Most car hire policies will include collision damage waiver, which provides cover for damage to the car, and cover for theft as standard.

It helps though to know what you have to pay in the event of an accident, as you will still need to pay the excess on the car insurance for your hired car.

You also need to find out what is not covered, for example even though you have collision damage waiver, you may not be covered for damage to the tyres or undercarriage of the vehicle.

You may also not have windscreen cover, and this oversight could cost you hundreds of pounds in the event of a damaged windscreen when you return the car.

Find out if you are paying for the same thing twice also. Some car hire companies will charge for personal injury cover when you could already have it in your travel insurance.

Collecting and returning the car

One pitfall that most are susceptible too is when collecting the car. You have just got off your flight, your hot, tired, hungry, you have been queuing for ages, so surely they will give you the keys to drive away quickly.

Not necessarily, as this is the perfect opportunity for companies to try and sell you their own insurance to protect the excess in the unlikely event of an accident. 

For many drivers this excess waiver insurance will come as a surprise, particularly if you thought you had paid for all your car hire costs up front.

Take this opportunity, no matter how rushed you are, to take pictures of the car as well, this will protect you when returning it from the car hire company attempting to charge you for damage you didn’t do when you return the car.

Returning the car can be difficult to, make sure that you either paid for a full tank of petrol when you collected the car, otherwise make sure you fill it up to the top when you return it, or face some nasty charges.

Finally always make sure a representative of the company signs back the car saying everything is fine, do not take their word for it, always have a signed agreement.

Following these simple steps can help to protect you from any nasty hidden charges for your car hire that could potentially ruin your holiday.

  By Ben Malkin

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