What do you do if your rental car is damaged?

Published August 4, 2014

Don’t fall into the holiday trap
Holidays are a time for enjoyment with friends and family, and you would rather not think too much about finances and expenses. If you are renting a car abroad, you should take a number of precautions. Then you can avoid unnecessary stress and difficulties on your holiday if a problem arises.

How to avoid car rental traps: 

1) Read the car rental agreement carefully. It is essential to thoroughly read through the standard agreement with the car hire company and understand its contents. That way, you avoid any unpleasant surprises later. According to Consumer Europe, the most common complaints and disputes are with companies in Italy, Germany and Spain. If you are holidaying in one of these countries, you should pay extra attention to the agreement. The complaints most frequently concern demands from companies after the return of the rental car, and disputes about damage to the car.

2) Check your car before driving away. It is important that you inspect the rental car both inside and out before leaving the pick-up location, preferably with an employee of the car rental company. Then you can take note of any damage that exists before you assume responsibility. Also take pictures or video of the car before driving off. This can help to counter any accusations of damage to the car after the lease period.

3) Select the driver with care. If you are a group travelling together, make sure the driver selected is at least 25 years of age. If not, the rental company will often charge an extra fee for a “young driver”. There may also be an additional fee for each person driving the car. You should therefore find the best solution to the practical arrangements, and agree in advance who is driving.

4) Consider independent excess reduction insurance for car rental. Then you are insured if you’re unlucky and the vehicle is damaged or stolen, and the rental company demands a large amount in excess. Independent excess reduction insurance for car hire can be taken out as a supplementary insurance to credit cards. 

5) Think carefully about the firm’s own insurance deals. When you collect the rental car, the company asks you to purchase supplementary insurance that reduces or covers the excess on car damage. The cost of additional insurance is often very high, and it may be more beneficial to have an independent excess reduction insurance for car rental. 

6) Check your credit card a few days after you’ve returned your rental car. Normally, the rental company will take a deposit or security on your credit card. You should make sure that there is an upper limit. You should also check whether the amount is deducted from your credit card afterwards, so you can quickly discover if the car rental firm has deducted anything from the deposit.