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Car rental rip-offs and how to avoid them

car diamond horrorHiring a car at half-term? Make sure you buy your car hire excess insurance well in advance to avoid getting stung at the rental desk for overpriced insurance policies.

Car rental can be an absolute minefield: witness the endless news reports of sharp practice, particularly in Europe. This ranges from companies inflating the cost of repairs to hard-selling of extras which weren’t included in the advertised price.

One common pitfall is the expensive insurance you’ll probably be encouraged to buy at pick-up. Basic cover is included in the rental price but usually it doesn’t include tyres, windows, the interior or the wheels. Worse, you are usually liable for the first £1,000 or so of any claim, called the excess. At the desk, the rental firm will often try to sell you an additional policy to cover it. Sometimes this can double your overall bill, it’s been reported.

However, you can avoid the cost by buying a far cheaper policy in the UK before you go. It can be made annual too, if you drive abroad often. You can also have several drivers on the same policy, each able to hire a car in their own name (although usually not at the same time) as long as they are registered living at the same address.

Questor, which I’ve used for a couple of years, sent me a reminder email to renew my excess insurance which spurred me into action yesterday. I thought that the premium of £58.49 it offered for Mr Minted and myself for a year was a bit steep though. With just the tiniest bit of Googling, I found some cheaper options.

I highly recommend using a discount code listed on the Money Saving Expert website here. There was even one for Questor which would have reduced my premium to £43.87. The 25% discount was obviously aimed at gathering new customers though which made me cross. Why should I be punished for my loyalty? So I looked again and plumped for a £33.46 policy with www.reducemyexcess.co.uk. It was only when I’d signed up that I realised I might have saved even more going through the comparison tool at Moneymaxim. Bah!

Nonetheless, my little policy is a big discount to the potentially £25 a day for this kind of insurance that Money Saving Expert says some firms will attempt to charge. Don’t let them bully you into it – get your own before you go. And don’t forget to get your online DVLA code too so the rental firm can check your licence. There are lots more top tips in our SMM quick guide to car rental here. Happy driving holidays!

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Wednesday, 14 November 2018