Read the standard agreement for the hire car thoroughly
It is very important to thoroughly read through the standard agreement for the car hire company. Ensure that you understand the contents of the hire agreement. In that way you avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
When you search on the internet for the best offer, remember that the prices which are given often only include the “basic package”. It is therefore important that you find out what is included, and what is not included in the hire car price. Remember for example, to check the arrangement for fuel, and be aware that if one is going to drive into another country in the hire car, the company must be informed of this in advance.
According to Consumer Europe the majority of complaints and disputes with car hire companies come from Italy. Germany and Spain are also well represented. If you are going on holiday with a hire car in one of these countries, there is therefore good reason to read the hire car agreement carefully. Complaints generally concern demands from companies after the hire period, and are primarily disputes over damage which has supposedly taken place to the car.
Think carefully before you accept additional insurance
When you hire a car, normally third-party insurance, comprehensive insurance and theft insurance is included in the price. Excess in the event of damage to the hire car can meanwhile be very expensive. Excess varies from country to country, but the amount normally lies between 6000 and 12, 000 NOK. The various car hire operators in the same country also operate with different excess amounts.
When you collect the hire car, the company offers you additional insurance which reduces or covers the excess in the event of car damage. Be sceptical about saying “yes please” to this, as the price of the additional insurance is often very high.
Ignore sales tricks when you collect the hire car. The agent has a salary that is partially commission based, and wishes to sell as mush as possible to you, the customer. In addition to questions on excess insurance, you can for example get offers on baggage insurance or personal accident insurance. Check with your private car insurance what is covered.
If you reject this additional excess insurance you will be required to pay a deposit. The normal procedure is to use a credit card for this. It is also practical for you as a holiday maker, as the deposit amount will not be “frozen” on your normal debit card during the rental period.
The deposit amount will cover expenses for the hire company in the event you damage the car. Other costs you can be charged for after the rental period are for example if you have forgotten to fill up the tank when you return it.
Check your credit card a few days after you have returned the car. You will then quickly discover if the car hire operator has taken any of your deposit.
The credit card Re:member offers excess insurance for NOK 70 per year. This covers up to NOK 10, 000 in excess in the event of any damage to the hire car. Other credit cards on the Norwegian market have similar insurance included with the card. This is much more affordable than accepting the hire company’s additional insurance.
Think carefully before you enter into an agreement for optional extras for the hire car.
Child seats, GPS, chains, ski rack and portable DVD players are examples of optional extras which one can hire from the car hire company. This is not included in the basic price, and the hire price is high.
At the majority of hire car companies in Norway, it costs NOK 300 – to hire a child seat. If one has two children, then the price is NOK 600 – (Avis Car Hire January 2013)
The price can be even higher in other countries. It is therefore a much better idea to take your own private equipment instead of hiring.
If there are several of you travelling together, chose the driver with care
If several adults shall hire a car together, the designated driver should be 25 of age or more. If the person concerned is under 25, there will be extra charges applied by the hire company for “young driver”.
The hire company will also charge an extra fee for each person who will drive the car.
Inspect the hire car before you drive away from the collection place
Inspect the car before you drive away from the collection site, both inside and out. It can also be wise to go over the car together with an agent from the hire company so that disputes do not occur later. Taking pictures or a video of the car can also be advised, in order to avoid disputes about damage to the car after the hire period.
If you discover damage to the car before you drive away, notify the car hire company. In this way you avoid accusations upon returning the car with any scratches in the paint, damaged tires, dents etc.
Check the hire companies guidelines for the deposit
Normally the company obtain security through your credit card – a deposit. Make sure that an upper limit is set to the amount used for this.