Are you happily bowling along the Promenade des Anglais in a rental Renault? Or gridlocked in a hire horror? There’s been a lot of sobering stories in the media recently about car rental rip-offs, particularly in Europe. They range from companies inflating the cost of repairs to hard-selling of overpriced insurance policies. But never fear - SMM has a guide (click here) to securing your holiday runabout without getting the runaround.
Personally I’ve never (yet, fingers crossed) had any problems with hiring a car abroad. This is possibly because I’ve tended to avoid the budget options, knowing that cheap isn’t always best. There are endless ruses used by rental firms to massage your bill upwards, even if it looks well-priced at the start. Plus there are the practicalities of travelling with (my) family. You might save a hundred quid or so by using the agency located a 20-minute bus ride away from the terminal. In reality, dragging disgruntled kids (already bored by a longish flight) through an additional leg of journey is, to my mind, not worth the saving.
The easiest pitfall to avoid is the incredibly expensive insurances 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 and expensive policy to cover it. Sometimes this can double your overall bill, it’s been reported.
However, with a bit of preparation, you can avoid the cost by buying a far cheaper and more comprehensive policy in the UK before you go. It can be made annual too if you drive abroad often. SMM likes Questor Insurance and insurance4carhire, for example.
There are other top tips in the guide so have a look before you set off. And don’t forget to get a DVLA code online (valid for 21 days) to give to the car hire firm. They need it to check your licence isn’t riddled with black marks. What a lot of admin it all is – not exactly relaxing. Doesn’t it just make you want to stay home??
Click here for the SMM guide to travel insurance - something else to sort out!