Problems at the Car Hire Desk

By , 21 February 2017

So you’ve successfully got up on time, washed, had breakfast, got dressed and out of the door. Met the taxi, battled the rush-hour, remembered your passport, boarded your plane, watched your 100th emergency evacuation demonstration whilst the person next to you sits there glued to their smartphone, flown 3000 miles, landed, queued for too long through passport control, waited too long for your luggage and now you’re at the car-hire desk!

Congratulations, you’re now just minutes away from starting your adventure. The thing is, by this stage we’re all normally quite tired and just eager to get to our final destination for the day. Add in the potential stress of having a family in tow or an important meeting to get to, and it’s not hard to see how so many of us aren’t feeling 100% by the time they’re ‘next in line’.

We all love a list, so here are a few useful pointers to make sure this final hurdle doesn’t trip you up before you’re out of the airport and on the road:

1: Read the Car Hire Agreement.
You should always ask for the car hire agreement to be provided in your language. You may be expected to sign the copy in the hire-company’s local language, but any reputable company will be able to provide you with a copy in English as well.
2: Don’t forget your documents.
Everyone knows the phrase ‘Don’t forget your Passport’ but you’ll need a few more documents when it comes to hiring a car. You should make sure you’ve got your photo-card licence and your Driving Licence Check code. If you haven’t already printed this you may find some hire companies will charge you to use their computers to print this or worse still, simply turn you away. Save yourself the worry and print it before you leave. Go to: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence no more than 21 days before you travel. Ian Pollicott (our Business Development Manager) says ‘It’s worth remembering that rest of the world hasn’t caught up with the UK and some desks will still ask for the old paper counter-part driving licence so take it if you have it’.
3: Make sure you take your credit-card.
Most hire companies will pre-authorise your credit-card for the value of the excess on the insurance they provide. If you’re unfortunate enough to have a prang or a claim arises during your hire agreement, they’ll charge your card any value up to the maximum excess to cover this cost. It’s worth noting that many companies will insist the credit-card is in your name.
4: Don’t be pushed into buying unnecessary add-ons.
If you’ve already bought an excess policy you don’t need another one! Ian suggests keeping things simple. “If you’ve got a ReduceMyExcess policy covering your hire-agreement, when you’re offered the additional insurance just say ‘Thanks, but no-thanks’. You don’t need to provide them with the details of your ReduceMyExcess policy because it won’t affect your rental agreement with them. If you’ve taken out our policy, make sure your liability for damage to the rental vehicle doesn’t exceed £7,000 (US $50,000 if you have purchased our “Excess Plus” policy for USA & Canada) and you can simply tell the desk that you self-insure.”
5: Check the car and take photographs.
This is a tip you’ll find on almost every one of our blogs or how-to guides. It’s the single most important thing you can do to make sure your car-hire experience goes without a hitch. Make sure you have the hire company acknowledge any damage you find when you finally get to the car BEFORE you drive it out of the car-park. If you can, take pictures that include a date and time so that you can prove (if you need to) that you didn’t cause the damage.
6: Consider Taking out excess re-imbursement insurance BEFORE you travel.
Whilst you’ll still need to provide a credit-card for pre-authorisation, if there is an accident and a claim does arise, by having car hire excess insurance you’ll only be out of pocket temporarily*. The policies that ReduceMyExcess sell mean that you’ll receive the money back that you’re charged when you put in a claim. One thing to consider though is that our policies must be purchased and start before you collect your hire-car.

Some hire companies will refer to this cover as ‘Excess Waiver’. Importantly, this is what you’ve already purchased from ReduceMyExcess if you buy one of our policies. Jon Rebuck our CEO says ‘You don’t need to tell them you have insurance, all you need to say is that you don’t wish to pay the additional fee for their Excess Waiver. If you do tell them, you should be aware that we don’t have an agreement with the hire company as that’s not how this policy works’.

Our policy works like this:

  1. You decline the car hire company’s excess waiver.
  2. If there is a charge, the Car Hire company charges your credit card, and you pay the excess.
  3. You return to the UK with the relevant documentation and make a claim with us.
7: Read and Understand.
Any time you are buying insurance, including ours or the car hire company’s, it’s really important that you read the policy wording and understand the limitations, exclusions, terms & conditions. The last thing you want to do is spend money on something that isn’t going to give you the cover you need, or spend money on cover that you’ve already got.
8: Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It is unreasonable to think that every car-rental employee from every car-rental company from every country in the world will understand our insurance and all the other similar insurance policies from around the world – they won’t! So, if they try to tell you that our insurance is inadequate, you have to question whether they know what they are talking about.