Precautions when renting a car for your holidays
You want your holiday to start the moment you sit on the plane, not five hassle-filled hours later! So tick off the potential hassles early and then you can relax!
Whether you holiday at home or abroad this year, if you plan to hire a car, then follow these steps before you drive off in a rented car. We try to protect you from unscrupulous car-hire companies, and indeed from unwelcome delays when you arrive in Faro airport. You don’t want to hanging around for an hour or more to collect a hire car, particularly if you’ve children in tow.
The time to check the car-hire small print is before you travel, and not after you arrive when your back is to the wall and you’ve very little choice but to accept sneaky little surprises!
1. Check the price
Even if the price claims to be “inclusive”, there are a number of items and services that may not be included in it such as:
- Child seats
- Additional driver(s)
- No distance limits
- Returning the car outside of business hours
- Crossing international borders
- Returning the vehicle to a point other than the pick-up point or to an airport
- Excess insurance
2. Check your deposit
Make sure that any deposit you pay will be deducted from the total price and will not appear as a separate, additional charge on your credit card bill.
3. Check the contract
To understand what your rights and obligations are, always read the contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask about anything that you don’t understand before signing it. Never sign a contract unless you are clear about its contents and are happy with all the terms and conditions attached to it. It is important to check the excess for damage.
Pay particular attention to the following:
- What exactly is included in the contract for the price quoted or advertised?
- Insurance Policy: does the insurance policy cover all the drivers who intend to drive the car, what type of insurance coverage is involved and do you have to pay an excess if there is a claim? Excess Car Hire Insurance can provide peace of mind as excess can range from €500 to €2000+ depending upon the country where the rental is taken.
- Fuel Policy: is there a charge if you don’t return the car with a full tank of fuel?
- Driver Policies: are there insurance restrictions on the amount of people who can drive the car and/or their age?
- Breakdown Policy: is it clear what you should do in the event of the car breaking down? If not, ask the rental company for details. Never try to fix the car yourself or have any work done without checking with the rental company first.
- Returns Policy: is there a charge for returning the car to a different location than you picked it up at, or at an airport?
- Cancellation policy: is there one and what is required?
4. Check the condition of the car
When you pick up and return the car, make sure you get an employee of the rental company to confirm, in writing, any damage that’s on the car before you drive it. You should also do this when you drop the car off to confirm that no damage occurred while you had the car,and to avoid paying excess for damage.
Usually, you will be given a checklist or a diagram of the existing exterior damage when you pick the car up. If not, make a list of your own and have it signed. Doing this can avoid paying excess for damage.
Check that the car’s equipment i.e. – lights, air-conditioning, tires, windscreen (a small chip can become a big problem), are in good order before setting off.
5. Check where you can go
Are there any limits on the distance you can travel in the rental period? Is crossing International borders allowed? Also check if you need an international driver’s permit or other documentation in the country you are renting in.
6. Check the insurance
Make sure the insurance you, and anyone who will be driving the car, take out is adequate for your needs. Also, will you have to pay any excess in the event of something going wrong? If you are liable for an excess then buying excess insurance before you travel can help protect you against having to pay a large excess in the event of damage to your hire car.
7. Check the car when you return it
It is never advisable to return a vehicle outside business hours as you can’t get someone to confirm that no damage has been done. If you must do this, pictures showing the condition of the car may suffice as evidence that no damage occurred during the rental period. Leave yourself enough time to check the car and don’t