posted 4 years ago

Ten things you need to know about holiday rental cars

Top tips to make your life easier

Renting a holiday car used to be simple – but not any longer.  From insurance excesses to fuel policies, there are a lot of potential traps to fall into.

If you’re looking to book a last-minute getaway this summer, check out our handy guide – compiled with the help of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

1.  Beware of bogus car rental companies. It's all too easy to be hoodwinked by a bogus company offering very low prices and nationwide availability, even for last minute bookings. So remember - if it looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2.  Do your homework. If you're relying on a price comparison or aggregator site when getting quotes, pay close attention to what is and isn't included in the price. Many only give you a basic drive-away cost that may not include your specific requirements for things like additional drivers, child seats or sat-navs. Plus, some rental companies charge extra if you can't return the vehicle to the same location or are leaving the country.

3.  Understand the insurance excess and waivers.  This is one of the most complicated areas of car hire.  Rental companies offer a variety of insurance products to help consumers reduce their liability in the event of an accident or incident – and they don’t always cover what you may expect (in many cases, windscreens, tyres and roof damage are not covered).  Make sure you check any exclusions to the policy well ahead of your travel – and shop around for quotes.  It’s often cheaper to buy a specialist policy than the one offered by the car rental company.

4.  Find a fuelling option that suits you.  Many consumers don’t realise that their car rental quote will not include fuel. Most companies will give you the option of buying a tank of fuel from them and returning the car empty or returning it with a full tank. Remember what you agreed to, otherwise you could end up gifting the rental company a free tank of fuel or paying an extra charge to have the tank re-filled.

5.  Tell the rental firm how you plan to use the vehicle. Make sure that you tell the rental company if you're going to take the vehicle abroad - some companies won't let you take rental cars into certain countries. You'll also need relevant documentation, such as a VE103B certificate and proof that you're insured to drive the vehicle in that country.

6.   Read the paperwork. Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of your contract with the rental company. Ask for a copy prior to your rental, so that you can read it in your own time rather than when you've just arrived at your destination.

7.   Arrive prepared. Remember to turn up at the rental desk with the credit card you used to make your booking and both parts of your driving licence - the paper counterpart and the photocard. Ensure you have thought about whether you are prepared to pay for any extra cover or an upgrade, and take a copy of your rental confirmation and terms and conditions so you know what you have already agreed or paid for.

8.  Check the vehicle over before you drive away. Do a thorough inspection, inside and out, walking all the way around the vehicle. Note every single chip, dent and scratch. Pay particular attention to the wheels, windscreen and lights, which are common damage areas. Don't sign any paperwork until you have read it through and are happy with it. Before you drive the hire vehicle away, familiarise yourself with all of its controls - lights, windscreen wipers etc.

9.  Don't just drop and dash.  It’s hard to do when you’re under pressure to catch you flight home, but allow plenty of time when returning your car, so you can check over its condition and avoid any surprise charges.  This is particularly important if you're returning a car to a busy rental site, such as an airport. It's always best to return the vehicle during opening hours so that someone can check it over with you and sign the condition report. If you return a vehicle outside these hours, you're liable for any damage that occurs between the drop-off and the inspection. If this situation can't be avoided, take pictures of the car to prove the condition you left it in.

10.  Use a BVRLA member. If you’re renting a car in the UK, the BVRLA logo on the company’s website or in the branch when you're booking is a sign that you are dealing with a reputable company that has been vetted and operates to a professional code of conduct.

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