Booking a holiday tends to come with a sense of excitement, but also a fair bit of hassle. It’s always the way — to enjoy the week or two in the sun you’ve got to get through all the admin that comes before it. For a lot of people that can mean booking a package holiday, but that doesn’t necessarily include everything you need.
If you want to be mobile on your holiday, you’ll need to look into car or motorbike hire. If it’s not something you’ve done before, there’s something decidedly unnerving about booking a rental vehicle thousands of miles away. How do you know who’s reliable? What happens when you get there? What’s the risk of a scam?
All valid questions, but reassurance lies in simply doing your research. Here’s what you need to know about hiring a car abroad.
What’s included in your car hire?
Different countries have different laws around driving, meaning your required insurance level might be different depending on where you go. When hiring a car, your insurance will almost always be included in your package, but make sure to identify which cover you have.
You may have vehicle theft cover (which covers theft and nothing else), vehicle damage cover (for damage to your hire car alone) or third-party cover (which covers injury and property of a third party in the incident), or a combination of the three. It’s important you note what cover you have in order to understand your obligations in case of an incident.
Take measures to protect yourself
Hire companies abroad tend to use credit card pre-authorisation. This is part of your rental agreement you sign for and permits the hire company to charge from your credit card as they see fit — without telling you or getting your permission.
What this means is, in the worst-case scenario, a hire company could accuse you of damaging the car, however mildly, and charge the full excess amount on your card without you having any say. To counteract this, make sure to do a full “audit” of the car before you use it. Make note of any scratches or other damage to the car already and make sure the business signs something to confirm that these had nothing to do with you.
That way, there’s no chance of any nasty surprises down the road. Oh, and when you’re signing your rental deal — don’t forget to check the small print.
Understand your excess
You’ll be very familiar with the concept of excess from your own car insurance. What is essential to understand is that the excess on your hire car is likely to be very high — possibly in the region of £500-£1,500. Combine that with any card pre-authorisation concerns and you’re potentially liable for costs which could leave you seriously out of pocket and needing to weigh up your financial options.
If you want to safeguard against this, consider excess insurance. Excess insurance policies are very cheap, say a few pounds a day, and will offer excess reimbursement in case of a problem. Getting excess cover might seem like “just another thing” to add onto your budget, but it could save you from having to look at other options down the line if a big bill comes in.
So, make sure to do your homework ahead of your holiday when it comes to hiring a car. Read reviews, talk to friends who’ve done it and always check the small print to avoid any problems.
Do prefer hiring a car when you go on holiday or do you prefer traveling on public transport?
This is a collaborative post