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Last updated: 13 September 2021
Sometimes the only way to get around freely and safely on holiday is to hire a car. It may seem like a daunting task, but the last thing you want to be doing after getting off a long flight is reading through rental agreement contracts and trying to make sure you get the best and safest deal possible. The key is to plan ahead; to know what it is you're looking for and book it before you leave. This guide will take you through all you need to know about hiring a car abroad, and what to do when you are there to make sure you are not hit with any extra charges.
How do I hire a car abroad?
The key to hiring a car is to plan ahead for all the different factors that might affect this. These include:
- Pick up: It might be easier to pick up a hire car from the airport, but you could potentially get cheaper deals elsewhere. Ultimately, the safest way to hire a car is from a respected company at the airport, but it is good to know that isn't the only option.
- Insurance: It is important to be covered when going abroad, especially if you are driving around somewhere you have never been.
- Type: Probably the most enjoyable aspect of hiring a car is choosing what sort of car you want. Think about where you are driving, how many people, and the type of driving that you will be doing.
Is car insurance included?
Usually, the car hire firm will include basic insurance cover with the hire price. Each company will have a different policy, so it's important to do your research to work out the best deal for you. As a rule of thumb, however, the typical things that are covered are:
- Vehicle theft: this protects you from the worst case scenario; someone steals your car.
- Collision damage waiver: This will cover you in case of collision or damage, the most common reason to claim on your insurance.
- Third party: If you are in an accident with someone and you injure them or cause damage to their property, they will be compensated by the insurance company if you have third party insurance.
What is car hire excess insurance?
It's important to remember that with every car insurance policy, there is an “excess” payment. This is a cash payment made by the claimant to the insurance company in event of accident or theft. This is often very costly (around £500 or more), so you're likely to want car hire excess cover too, which would enable you to claim back any excess payment you make.
Key things to look out for when hiring a car abroad
We’ve compiled a helpful list of other things to look out for when hiring a car abroad, that you might not necessarily think to check:
- Pre-existing damage: It is important to inspect the car properly before hiring it. This means going through the car with the rental company, and taking and photos of damages. Make sure to record even the tiniest details with photo evidence, to guarantee that they do not charge you for it when you return the car.
- Fuel: Depending on your policy, you may have to return your hire vehicle with a full tank of fuel. If you fail to do so, they can demand refuelling charges on top of the petrol, which can be very costly. Make sure you fill up your fuel tank before you return if you have to.
- Upgrades: Hire companies usually have the right to upgrade your car if yours isn't available and may incur some extra costs for this. Make sure you understand this beforehand and choose a policy without this clause if you cannot afford it.
- Be sensible: The key thing to remember when hiring a car abroad is that you are driving in an unfamiliar place, often with different rules of the road. Make sure you stick to the speed limit read up before to avoid committing any traffic offences!