I want to rent a car but I'm afraid of being ripped off
Dermot Jewell - Your Questions
My husband and I will be heading to the Canadian Rockies for our holidays this summer. Rather than go as part of an organised coach tour, we have decided to rent a car. This is the first time we have hired a car, how should we go about it to prevent being ripped off?
Clodagh, Monkstown, Co Dublin.
Dermot replies: Before committing to any company, use a few of the car hire comparison websites to get a feel for the market. Check that the currency quote is in euro. Word-of-mouth recommendations can also be invaluable.
As many people collect their hired cars from airports, check if it will work out cheaper for you to hire the car if you collect it at a nearby branch – within shuttle-bus distance of the airport.
Be wary of insurance add-ons. Many car hire companies include the cost of Collision Damage Waiver insurance in the car hire quote. This insurance limits your liability for certain damage to the car while you're renting it. However, increasingly, unless you opt out, an additional and quite hefty daily charge can be added for Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW). The point of SCDW is to drastically reduce the large amount of money you pay in the event of damage of any kind to the car while you're renting it.
This is why it is very important to take a walk around the car – with the agent – to identify any dents, scrapes or damage when you first collect the car. And do this again when you return it.
When you pick up your car, ask if there are any extras which you will be charged for – before driving off.
Finally, remember to pack a hard copy of your booking details and the original of all driving licences required before you set off for your trip.
Rising house insurance
The price of my house insurance has gone through the roof over the last year – even though I have never made a claim. What can I do to bring down the cost of the cover?
Roisin, Salthill, Co Galway
Dermot replies: If you haven't already done so, go back to your insurer and ask for a cheaper quote. If you don't get one, head elsewhere – shopping around will usually reduce the cost of your insurance.
Make sure you are availing of all discounts for home alarm, smoke alarms, and any loyalty discounts for having another type of insurance with the same company. You can often get a discount off your home insurance premium if you sign up to a policy with a high excess (the first part of a claim which you must pay for yourself).
Be prepared to pay a big chunk of the cost of a claim should you do so. With a high excess, you could have to pay the first €1,000 of damage should your home be damaged by a burst water pipe or leak for example.
You should also decide if you need to include certain low value items in your policy at all – or if it is better to have cover only for expensive items. Why would you do this? Well, predominantly, to get a policy and cover that is value for money and to ensure that you are not paying to cover things which don't need to be insured.
So before buying your house insurance, make a list if all the contents in your home, state how old each item is, and then put a value on what it would cost to replace those items. Then seek two quotes – where the first quote includes full cover for all the contents in your home and the second includes only the most valuable contents.
- Dermott Jewell is policy adviser with the Consumers' Association of Ireland (www.thecai.ie).
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