Car Hire Abroad
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Car Hire Abroad Guide
Hiring a car abroad sounds like it should be relatively simple, but there’s often more to it than meets the eye. Not only does a person need to hire the car, they may also need to ensure they are covered by insurance whilst driving abroad. And while there are generally lots of opportunities to find rental cars when a person gets to their destination, booking well in advance could help them find a cheap car rental, ensure they’re getting the best deal possible, and give them time to understand all the terms and conditions of the hire.
What Documentation does someone Need to Hire a Car Abroad?
Generally the most important document needed to get a rental car abroad is a Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving license. Depending on the country someone may also need an International Driving Permit as well as a driving license. Currently, International Driving Permits aren’t needed in any EU or EEA countries, as well as Switzerland. An International Driving Permit may be obtained via the Post Office or the AA or RAC. To be eligible a person must be over 18 and hold a current driving license, and be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland. Another requirement is a DVLA code, which is a code that gives the hire company temporary access to driving license information, allowing them to look up driving history, points, and fines. Few car hire companies ask for this code, especially those located abroad, but it could still be important to have one, just in case the company does ask for it. The code is obtained on request from the DVLA. Note that it’s only usually active for 21 days, so it must generally be obtained no more than 21 days before the scheduled pick up of a hire car.
Does a Person Need Special Insurance?
When renting a car abroad, the hire company might typically expect that in the event of an accident, the hirer pay the excess on the damage claim. This requirement could be waived by purchasing the company’s own insurance, typically called super collision insurance or super collision damage waiver; however this insurance could come with a high price of up to £25 per day. Rather than buying this insurance, it’s almost always much cheaper to buy an excess policy, which may cover the cost of any excess a person could have to pay in the event of an accident. If someone does buy standalone excess insurance instead of super collision insurance, the car hire company may require that they pay a deposit to cover potential damage. Typically a company will require that a deposit of between £500 and £1,000 is paid via credit card (many car rental companies may not accept a debit card for this purpose). This money is refunded to a card once they return the car, providing that it’s undamaged. If someone is in an accident, the company takes the money, and then the person usually claims it back from standalone excess insurance. It may be a good idea to thoroughly inspect the car and take some photos when picking it up. This isn’t generally a big issue if someone purchased the hire company’s insurance, but if the hirer purchased standalone excess insurance, it could be useful to document the car’s condition when taking possession.
How to Get a Good Car Hire Deal
When hiring a car for travelling abroad, many people could find it pays to book as early as possible, and to use an online service to compare car hire companies and book the best deal. Cheap car hire may generally be easier to obtain when booking well ahead of time, and it could be possible to save as much as £100 by booking the rental car several months before it is needed.
There may be several other ways someone could save money on cheap car rentals. For instance if a person flies to a destination, picking the car up at the airport may cost a few pounds a week more than if the car rental comes from an off-terminal location. However, a person may need to weight this up against the convenience of the airport pickup, not to mention the time and money spent travelling from the airport to the pickup site. It’s generally cheaper to hire a car abroad if just one person may be doing all the driving. It could cost several pounds more per day to add a second driver. If any listed driver is under 25 there’s generally an extra premium to pay, too. Instead of paying more for Satnav, download a free phone app, which could perform the same function. Similarly, take a child’s car seat if possible, rather than paying what is often an exhorbitant price for hiring one. Often it’s cheaper to take a car seat on the flight to a destination than it is to hire one from the car rental company. Don’t buy any add-ons, as these tend to be the most expensive part of any car rental deal. For instance, instead of buying their super collision insurance, check to see if there are any cheaper options for insurance from a separate provider.
Finally, note that renting a car in advance doesn’t mean a person is necessarily bound to a contract. Finding a deal that could allow cancellation 1 to 2 days before pickup without penalty, could mean being able to do some last-minute car rental comparisons before going abroad, potentially saving even more on car hire.