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Use standalone policy to avoid rip-off car hire insurance

best car hire insuranceI’d forgotten that getting ready for a holiday was such a palaver! I spent two hours packing my own bag yesterday even before tackling Darling Son’s luggage (no, you can’t take the duvet, what d’you mean none of your shorts fit?). 

Clothing issues pale in comparison with the paperwork. Today I’m masterminding all our policies, particularly car hire insurance. This is the one you tend NOT to know about until you hit the rental desk at the airport. It usually works out that you’ve got a great deal on the car but there’s the most enormous excess (the part of any claim you have to pay) on the insurance. 

Faced with having to foot the bill for the first hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds, holidaymakers are usually keen to sign up to an extra policy to cover that excess, even though the cost can range from £5 to £25 a day. Add that (seven days x a midrange £15, for example, equals £90) on to your rental fee and you don’t have such a good deal after all.

But here’s a top tip to get around it. Before you go, buy a standalone policy which is much cheaper. With iCarhireinsurance.com, for example, policies start at £2.99 per day or £37.99 for an annual policy. I’ve just upgraded the Team Minted yearly cover with Questor from Europe only (last year) which cost £59.98 to £75.18 to include our forthcoming visit to Florida. It’s more expensive as we have two lead drivers – Mr Minted and myself. But it works for us as we have a few trips a year involving driving. Check out the comparison websites, such as confused.com, to get the best deal.

Car hire firms can't really quibble if you refuse to take their insurance: we have successfully stuck to our own cover in Majorca at least. The drawback is that, if you do damage the car, you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket first and reclaim the cost later. With the rental firm cover, you’d generally just hand the car back. So take your credit cards with you. It’s also a good idea to check for bumps and scratches at pick-up and get them noted. If you can figure out how to make your camera stick a time and date code on your photos, snap away.

Finally, don’t forget if you’re driving in France, you now need to show an emissions sticker or you could be fined. Plus, now paper licences have been retired, you need to get a code from the DVLA in advance to show the rental firm your (points-free, of course!) record. Drive safely!

Planning a trip? See our SMM guide to travel insurance here.

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Tuesday, 23 April 2019