Car hire holiday Tips

February 2, 2017

Going on Holiday ?   Hiring a car abroad ?  Here is some car hire holiday Tips you might find useful (or might scare you off):

  1. Before you book with the hire company – do a google search on that company to see what they are up to.  Some are a lot worse than others and seem to make their money out of re charging customers against the actual hire price.
  2. Car Hire Excess Insurance.

Car or motorcycle hire.   How many times have you hired a car or a motorcycle abroad to find the insurance excess cover costs as much or even more in some cases than the actual car hire? Ever feel you’re getting a bad deal?  That’s because you probably are.  Many car hire companies use every trick in the book to scare customers into taking out their high profit margin excess insurance.

Here is a possible solution (or somewhere to start at least) and some handy tips:

Comparison site

This would be a daily or an annual insurance policy (if you tend to hire a few cars every year) that will insure you in the event of a car hire claim. The idea is the excess you end up losing in the event of an accident will be reclaimed with the insurance you take out before you go.

This usually turns out to be a lot cheaper than a policy taken out when you insure the car (you know the one they try and scare you into taking out while your stood there stressed at the car hire counter) on holiday and you can also do your homework to pick the right one before you go.  It won’t reduce the trauma of having an accident abroad of course (so best bet is not to have one) but it does potentially help the bank balance afterword.

It would be nice to have the satisfaction of informing the person trying to sell you the very expensive excess insurance “you already have some” 🙂 but don’t!  Just simply say “no thank you”.  You have to assume (at a company like this) it is possible for accounts to be marked to have “special attention” at a later date…

Some down sides or things to note:

    • Some car hire companies increase the actual excess amount for the hire if you don’t take their excess insurance e.g. a hire company in Malta (when last used 07/05/2016). They do this by doing a “Pre Auth” on your credit card which means you have authorised that amount to be deducted which can be up to twice the excess amount normally. This usually just encourages me to take out an annual policy even more as the increase is obviously to frighten you into taking out their very expensive (usually) insurance. I try to avoid such companies anyway and only use them as a very last resort.
    • You need to make sure the UK excess insurer itself is reputable. Read their reviews etc. before you use it.
    • If you’re like me and you sometimes hire a motorcycle and sometimes a car depending how safe the country is; usually you have to take out separate excess insurance policies one for a car and one for a motorcycle ) or did at the time of writing this). I haven’t found one yet that does both on the same policy unfortunately, which is a bit annoying because you/ I would not hire both at the same time would we???
    • The task of reclaiming the excess isn’t always clear cut. Obviously there’s some paperwork to fill in when you get back home and processes to go through with the insurance company you used.  Also your only insured for the excess relating to the policy you took out so be careful you get the right one before you go as they all seem to be slightly different.
    • Of course this doesn’t remove the pain of a hire company claiming you have damaged their car when you get back when you haven’t (and the other things they get up to).  The best way to avoid this of course is not to use such a hire company in the first place (again – use review sites).

2.  Take Pictures

Take pictures of the car all around it when you pick it up and when you drop it off with your smart phone or camera including the fuel level and mileage.  Don’t forget the sills around the bottom.  Most jpegs etc. have an internal timestamp on them nowadays so they are relevant it is better to display the date and time on the picture.  When you get accused of someone else’s damage (or more likely damage that the hire company uses time and time again) you can then claim the amount back as you could very well have very good evidence you did not do it.  Note however – pictures are not accepted as evidence (at the moment) for credit card claims.  They can however form part of your overall claim as “they do exist” and ultimately therefore can be used in a court.  Car hire companies mostly assume they will never see you again and they seem to love to bill you after you have left the country.  Being prepared for this will not stop them but will help to ensure they don’t get away with it.

3.  Pick up.  Make sure you know what the fuel policy is.  If they don’t tell you ask.  Move the car into some good light.  Check the damage marked on the paperwork and make sure it’s all there.  If there is damage on the car that isn’t there the best bet is to go back to the counter and point the damage out and make sure they amend the documents they give you or re issue them.  The pictures you take will of course help but prevention is better than a cure isn’t it!

4.  Drop off.  Try and get the car inspected and signed off at drop off if possible.  If they spot any damage that isn’t on the docs you can then produce your pictures and your signed off document you took at pick up and deal with any false claims quicker or there and then.  This happened to me in Malta more than once.

5.  Use a credit card to pay.

You can then use the credit card company resources to claim back any bogus amounts claimed by the hire car company.

6.  Fuel Policy

Find out what it is.  Take note of the fuel policy and return the car fuelled as per the agreement. Some companies will charge an excessive admin fee to re fuel the car irrespective of how much they have to put in. Another money maker. If it turns out it’s really difficult to refuel before you get to the airport it may be worth considering buying a plastic can for a few local whatever and using that to top up the car at the airport (might be cheaper).  We do this a lot because we can pick the can up again when we go back.  Be wary of fuel deposits relying on the hire company refunding the (unused)  “deposit”.  The “deposit” you know nothing about of course when you pick the car up until they tell you about it.  Another money maker where they conveniently forget the refund!!!

Again at drop off take pictures of the car (and fuel gauge) and if possible get an employee at the car park to agree the fuel situation and make that plainly seen on the docs.

7.  Book before you go.

Book it in the UK.  In my experience you can (usually) get a cheaper deal (if you don’t know the car hire company personally of course).  However – it can be worth getting to know a local (reputable) company and re using them if you hire in the same place all the time.  Not much use for a one off holiday however!

8.  When you get back.  Check your credit card statements carefully for the next 4 weeks minimum.

9.  If you do get a claim from the hire company when you get back and you didn’t do what they have stated or it’s false.  Immediately inform your credit company and raise a claim against each transaction amount.  The CC card company will apply for proof from the hire company.  In the event you didn’t do it you will find the evidence the hire company sends will probably have something wrong with it (when you translate it).  e.g. it will have the wrong contract number, the wrong car details or it may be something less obvious.  Google has a wonderful app you can download onto your phone that will (a)  Take a picture of the document (b)  Scan and translate the document into English for you.  (c)  Enable you to email the translated text to yourself.  When the CC card company then forwards the proof to you immediately respond to the CC card company and ask for an indefinite amount of time as there will be a response time limit.  Once you have got your evidence you can then forward back to the CC card company.  If the hire company is blatantly fraudulent – when you have your funds back – ask the CC card company to investigate this company and if you hired it through e.g. Ryanair etc. – inform the company you booked it through what has happened so they can investigate the hire company.

10.  If you get a claim and you did do it.  Use the excess insurance.

11.  Lastly relax and enjoy your holiday knowing you have it covered!   Hope you found this useful and good luck!