It should be straightforward to hire a car in Europe, but with so many insurances and conditions of hire it can be difficult to make the right choice. Plus, it certainly doesn’t help if you leave hiring a car in Europe to the last minute! Whatever you do, avoid picking a random car hire desk when you land. You’ll have to queue, and you won’t know if you’re getting a good deal! To keep costs down, plan ahead and compare prices between car hire companies. Most importantly, ensure your EHIC card is up to date and renew your card with the likes of europeanhealthinsurancecard.org.uk to ensure you are covered if you were to have an accident on the road. Without further ado, here’s how to hire a car in Europe:
Car hire excess insurance
Most, if not all, car hire companies expect you to pay the first part of any accident (or damage) claim upfront, unless you pay more for their ‘super’ insurance. Before you fly, you should arrange you own car hire excess reimbursement insurance. Not only will this often be less expensive that taking out car hire firms ‘super’ insurance, it’s just as easy to find your own and just as quick.
Not all car hire firms give you a choice, but if you do, there are two ways that fuel is able to be supplied.
Supplied full, return full involves only paying for what you need. Whether you are familiar with the location enough to be able to identify the closest fuel station will determine how convenient this option is for you. More often than not there is a fuel station around the corner to the airport, but ask if you are unsure, otherwise you may find a service change on your credit card.
The second option is supplied full, return ‘empty’. This involves paying up-front for a full tank of petrol and returning the car as empty as possible without running out of fuel during the manic dash to return your hire car. If you plan on driving from place to place, this option offers great value for money. However, if you only plan to drive to and from the local beach every day, consider how much petrol you will actually use during your stay.
When you arrive…
When you arrive at the car hire firm, carefully check the car for damage and ensure any found damage is scribed onto the complete rental agreement in pen. If you are particularly concerned, take photos or a video of the car’s condition on both collection and return so you can’t be blamed for damage made by a careless previous driver. Ultimately, though, if you feel uncomfortable about the car for any reason, exchange it for another hire car as soon as possible to ensure you aren’t stung by any hidden costs at the end of what was a relaxing holiday abroad.
What if there’s a problem?
If there’s a problem, don’t panic. Providing you have chosen a car hire company that is a member of the European car rental conciliation service scheme (ECRCS), such as Europcar, Firefly, Enterprise and Hertz, they will help resolve your complaint.