10 rules of car rental - how to avoid rip-offs when you hire a holiday car
Over 40pc of people who have rented a car abroad have felt ripped off by the car hire company.
That's according to research by Irish insurance provider, CarHireExcess.com, which also found that more than one in four of us (25.3pc) plan to rent a car on our main holiday this year.
As crunch time for peak season car hire approaches, Ciaran Mulligan, Managing Director of Blue Insurance and CarHireExcess.com, shares his top ten tips for avoiding car hire rip-offs.
1. Know your car hire company
A quick online search will tell you if the car hire company you are thinking of choosing has long queues at collection, is known for renting out poor quality vehicles, or takes ages at drop off when you have a flight to catch. Check whether you need to allow extra time.
2. Cover the excess before you travel
Most car rental companies make you liable for the first portion of the repair or replacement costs to your car rental if you have an accident - this portion is known as the ‘Excess’, and it can cost anything up to €2,000, even for a small scratch on your rental car.
Don’t wait until you arrive at the car hire desk abroad to cover theeExcess. You will get ripped off! Rental companies will try to charge you up to €25 a day, but you can buy car hire excess insurance policies from as little as €2.99 a day before you fly.
3. What if the car hire company refuses my excess policy?
It is a sales tactic of some car hire companies to try to force you to take out their excess policy by saying your Car Hire Excess policy is not valid or will not cover things like “Undercarriage” or “Loss of use”. This is incorrect. Tell the car hire company you have your own policy and they will then take pre-authorisation of your card. If they make a claim on your card, submit it to your insurance company - e.g. CarHireExcess.com - and they will reimburse you. If the car hire company refuse your excess waiver policy, do not accept this and ask for management.
4. Check the car before you leave
When you pick up the car, have a good look round and make sure you get an employee of the rental company to confirm, in writing, any damage which may have been on the car before you drive it.
Test functions such as reclining roofs. This especially applies at night; make sure you fully check the car including the roof with a rep and always take photos of the car, including any damage, before you leave the rental company.
5. Always check the fuel policy
Some car hire companies give you a full tank of petrol and want it returned full; others give you a full tank without the requirement to refill on return. Car hire companies can charge up to three times the cost of petrol to refill if you do not comply with their fuel policy on return.
6. Do a full check of the car before you return it
Be sure to complete a full inspection of the vehicle (including the roof and bumpers) with a staff member of the rental company when you return the car, so as to agree any charges with the car hire company before you return home. Take photos of the car, including any damage caused during your rental, for reference.
7. Check Sat Nav and car seat charges
Most car hire companies offer navigation systems as an extra charge - however a significant number of cars already have this feature built in. Check if the car already has this installed before paying the extra. You can also save money by using your own car seat or booster - check out bubblebum.co/ie for one good travel solution.
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8. Do you need supplemental liability insurance?
If your trip takes you through the USA, Canada, Caribbean or south Central America you may need to add this cover, as some countries (or states in the USA) only require a minimum level of liability from the car hire company.
Our supplemental liability insurance (SLI), for example, covers you up to the amounts stated in the policy against costs which you become legally liable to pay in respect of bodily injury and damage to material property as a result of an accident whilst using the rental vehicle. Cover ranges from €7.99 per day or €65 on an annual policy.
9. Check the rules of the road!
You should always familiarise yourself with the rules of the road of the countries you intend on driving in. Make sure you are familiar with the side of the road they drive on and how road layouts differ to your home country. Forewarned is forearmed!
10. Compare your quotes based on the final hire cost
Online lead-in offers can look very enticing - but they are just starting prices. Additional drivers, collision damage waivers, excess charges, airport pick-ups, children's car seats, Sat Navs and the like can all come as extra charges. Every customer is different, and there are many types of holiday, so be sure to factor in additional services and compare like with like for your needs.