Renting a car while traveling is one of the most convenient ways to get between cities and even countries. You do not depend on anyone and you can reach the most interesting and difficult to reach places, building your own route. But before embarking on such a journey, it is important to know how to do it right and avoid unnecessary problems. You will learn more about The Car Rental and Insurance You Need to Know in Europe by LCN Outdoors article.
I Want To Rent A Car In Europe, What Do I Need To Do?
- Being over 21 years old is a requirement for most rental companies, but some even allow you to rent a car from the age of 19.
- Have at least 1 year of driving experience.
- Driver’s license. In most cases, a U.S. license will suffice because of the English first and last name on it.
- a credit card – it is important that it is a credit card and not a debit card.
Where Is The Best Place To Rent A Car
There are two main ways.
- Direct rental companies. There are international ones, e.g. Hertz, Avis, Eurocar, Sixt; and local-only work in one country.
- aggregator platforms such as Rentalcars, Economycarrentals, AutoEurope, Economybookings, etc.
The choice to contact rental companies directly or agencies depends on various factors.
If you are an employee of a large company, as part of a loyalty program, you may be able to get up to a 50% discount on rental cars directly from the rental company, which can then be more profitable.
The advantage of aggregators is that they allow you to choose from many offers: you can compare the prices of different companies and find a suitable option. In most cases, renting through an aggregator will be much cheaper.
It is usually easier to solve problems with an aggregator because they usually have an English-speaking expert. You can get in touch with him and he will help you with situations that you do not understand. Since you pay the rental company, the middleman often has a financial interest, so they are on your side.
What Affects The Cost And How To Save
- The class and type of car. A manual is always cheaper than an automatic.
- There is a 0.6 mile (1 km) per day limit. Cars can be cheap, but there is a limit, for example up to 120 miles (193 km) per day, and there is an additional charge for each additional 0.6 miles (1 km).
- Restrictions on the territory. For example, you can go anywhere within Europe, but if you have to travel to a country outside the EU, you must have a document that allows you to cross the border. This may also cost more.
- The number of drivers. If there is more than one person driving during the trip, in most cases the insurance costs will increase.
- Fuel consumption. Sometimes the cost of a car is lower, but its fuel consumption is higher.
- Number of days of rental. The more days, the cheaper the price. Sometimes 10 days are cheaper than 7 days.
- Other features. If you need a car with a large boot, ski or bike rack, sat-nav, and child seat, the price will be higher. Child seats are usually cheaper to buy locally or hire from a children’s store.
- Where you take the car. It’s usually cheaper to do it in town than at the airport, but you need to look at convenience and logistics. If you arrive in the evening, it’s wise to take a cab to your hotel and rent a car in town in the morning. If you need to leave the airport in the morning, a car rental company can pick you up upon arrival and drop you off at your rental location. There is usually a car rental company near the airport.
- Discounts and promotions. If you have an airline boarding pass, airlines will sometimes give discounts on car rentals. Booking systems like booking.com will also give discounts on rentals if you book your accommodation through them. Discounts are also available for bank rewards cardholders and employees of large companies.
- Insurance. It can be full or partial, with or without deductibles.
What To Look For When Renting A Room
When you rent a car, you should always do an inspection. Any damage that has occurred will be recorded on a form that you fill out with your manager. It is important to take pictures of any damage before you enter the car.
Record any chips, scratches, or dents. Also, take a close look at the dashboard and take a picture of it as well so you can see gas mileage, mileage, and light bulbs turned on or off.
Take this seriously, because if it wasn’t documented in the inspection report, to begin with, any arguments about the damage that has occurred won’t work in your favor.
This raises the question of whether it is better to take a car with minor damage or a new car. If you are traveling extensively, such as in mountainous or inaccessible areas, it is advisable not to get a brand new car, but one with some scuffs and bruises.
Once you have checked the interior and exterior of the car, be sure to check that all the car documents are in the glove box.
- The car’s paperwork.
- Documents to confirm that you have rented the car and can use it.
What Else Do You Need To Know About Renting A Car
A. Can I choose a car?
Usually, they will give you the class of car you choose, but the make is not known in advance. It depends on what will be in the class of car you choose.
Some rental companies have a “select a specific car” option. The more unique the car you need, the more complicated it will be. Sometimes, if you don’t have the right class of car, you may be given a higher class of car for the same amount of money.
B. Do I need to refuel my car before I return it?
- Full / Full, which means you fill-up the car’s tank and return it with the same amount of gas.
- Full / Empty, which means you fill the tank and return it in any quantity.
It is always specified in the contract. If you return the car with insufficient fuel, your deposit will be deducted. This amount is much higher than when you fill it up yourself.
C. Is it possible to leave the car in another country
Typically, large rental companies are a network that may exist in different countries. That means that rates may vary. If you want to rent a car in one country and leave it in another country, it may be more expensive. In this case, the rental company will have to move the car back or deliver it so that it eventually reaches the country it belongs to.
D. Is it important to know the language?
It is possible to rent a car without knowing the language, but it will be difficult to deal with unexpected problems. In this case, it is best to rent a car through an aggregator website, as they usually have English-speaking specialists who can be contacted.
There are also large international companies that have representation in the United States. In this case, you can sign a European car rental agreement here and resolve all issues in the event of an accident here. This is convenient, but maybe more expensive.
In some countries, even knowing English won’t help you. For example, if you rent a car from a small Spanish company, there is a good chance you will have to deal with Spanish-speaking people if necessary. If you do not know the language of the country where you are renting the car, it is best to use an international car rental company or aggregator.
Types Of Car Insurance In Europe
TLP (Third Liability Protection) is the driver’s liability insurance, equivalent to our MTPL. in other words, if you cause an accident, the insurance company will pay for all the damages of the other driver. This type of coverage is included in the price and is mandatory.
The next type of insurance covers damage to the car you rent. There are two types of insurance, with and without deductibles.
- CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) is similar to our insurance but does not cover the risk of theft and means there is a deductible. The deductible is your co-payment for the loss. For example, your contract says your deductible is €400, and the damage to your car is estimated at €1,000. You pay the 400 Euros and the insurance company pays the rest. If the damage is less than your deductible, you pay the entire amount yourself.
- SCDW (Super Collision Damage Waiver) is the same type of insurance, but without the deductible. In other words, if damage occurs to the rental car, you pay nothing; all costs are covered by the insurance company. It does not cover the risk of theft.
Other types of insurance
- TP (Theft Protection) – Covers the risk of theft of the car.
- LDW – This type of insurance combines the other two (CDW and TP), protects against damage and theft, and includes a deductible.
- Super LDW is the previous type of coverage but without a deductible. This means that the insurance company assumes all risks associated with theft and damage.
The deductible is usually the same amount as the deposit that will be frozen or temporarily withdrawn from your card.
Additional Insurance Options
A. Minor Damage
Damage to mirrors, windows, wheels, and tires are described separately from the entire car and are usually not included in standard coverage.
You can pay a substantial amount for this insurance package. While auto theft is a fairly rare occurrence, minor damage is more common. For all scratches and chips that are not covered, the rental company will deduct a portion of your deposit.
B. Refund of deposit
Aggregators usually have an option such as a deposit refund. This means that if the company does not return any portion of your deposit to you because of damage, they can cover it.
C. Administrative Fees
There is also an option related to administrative fees and charges. That is if the car breaks down and you lose your keys or get locked out, the insurance will cover any impound and towing or key replacement costs. This risk can also be included in the insurance.
D. Car Rental Excess Insurance
This is third-party deductible insurance. This means that if you damage your car and pay a deductible for it, the insurance company will reimburse you for that amount.
To do this, you must purchase insurance prior to renting a car. You can get it from RentalCover. If you pay a deductible after a car accident, you will need to provide the insurance company with documentation such as a police report, a statement from the rental company about the damage, and the amount they deducted. If all of this documentation is provided to the insurance company, then the deductible will be paid.
Insured And Non-insured Events
Any event must first be identified as insured or uninsured. In this case, the insurance company will definitely not pay your expenses.
- If you were driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or strong medication at the time of the accident.
- If you left the scene of the accident without waiting for the police.
- If you violated a traffic law and were fined.
- If you park in the wrong place and your car is towed.
It is your responsibility to obey any traffic laws in your particular state. If it says you need to buy a voucher, pay a tax, or toll road to move around the country, you need to do it yourself. The fine should be paid so that you don’t have problems with your visa later.
In addition, each country may have unique risks that are not covered by insurance companies.
For example, in Iceland, there are three such risks.
- Sinking cars. Having to drive on rivers is common, and not every car can handle it. Therefore, if you get stuck somewhere, the insurance company cannot help you.
- Doors are torn open. There are strong winds in Iceland and people forget to hold the door when they open it. In some cases, the door was ripped off.
- Volcanic dust. When you are parked on a volcanic plateau and there is a sudden gust of wind, the dust will completely block the car’s engine and the car will be beyond repair.
What If An Accident Or Theft Occurs
The rental company will give you instructions on what to do in case of an accident, theft, or minor damage. You should usually just call the police and then call the leasing company and report the accident. Under no circumstances should you drive away from the scene of the accident and then call the rental company or the insurance company will not be able to help you. It is important that you get a report that is signed and countersigned by the police.
In some cases, the damage may be unrelated to the accident. For example, if your car was hit by a large hailstorm or if a large tree branch fell on your car during a major storm, you will need to provide the rental company with a certificate from the police stating that the area was indeed hit by this natural phenomenon.
Tip: For an additional fee, you can add services such as roadside assistance in case of an emergency.
What Else Do You Need To Know About Insurance
A. Number of drivers
The basic version of insurance usually has one or two drivers. When you rent a car, you provide copies of the driver’s licenses of each person who will be driving. Therefore, if you are traveling in a group, you must include the driver’s licenses of everyone else. If there are more drivers than stated in the basic version, the insurance is more expensive.
B. Coverage area
In Europe, insurance usually covers all EU countries, but if you are traveling in a neighboring country, coverage may be limited or may require an additional charge.
C. What can you write off part of your deposit
When you rent a car, you are blocked or charged a certain amount, usually a few hundred dollars or euros. This is usually the same as the deductible. After you rent the car, it will be inspected and you will get your money back after a period of time. However, sometimes part of the deposit may be deducted: for example, you didn’t clean the car, you scratched it without any insurance, you returned it at a bad time, you were fined, or you didn’t fill up the gas tank.
The cost of cleaning your car is negotiated in advance. It is either included, which is usually the case, or you have to return the car after it has been washed and the interior cleaned.
In addition to the physical damage, there is what is called lost income during car repairs. If you scratch a mirror, you can still drive the car. However, if the damage is severe, the car will be repaired and the rental company will incur a loss during this time. This money can be billed to you, the person at fault, because you didn’t earn it. The risk either exists and is stated in the contract, and the insurance company is responsible, or it is not.
If you go home and are suddenly charged a deposit and you do not agree, you should write to the rental company. In most cases, disputing a deposit charge is difficult and not always possible.
To avoid trouble with the deposit, read the contract carefully and check with the rental company on the spot.