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Getting The Best From Your Car Hire Experience

Mar 27, 2008
Car hire is often the answer whether travelling for business or leisure as the ease of a hire car and the ability to travel at your own pace is always appealing. Preparation is essential to ensure your hire car experienced is not tarnished by inefficiency and delays. Here are some tips to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

It is usually advisable to book your hire car at least a week in advance. The general rule is that the earlier you book the more preferable your rate will be. This is not always the case but by making the provisions early you may well receive a better deal. In addition to this, by booking online, many car hire companies will offer cheaper prices. At this stage it is usually worth enquiring about the hire car services' cancellation policy. There is usually a minimum period of notice as well as charges that will be incurred if cancellation does occur.

When choosing a car hire company, make the selection after great deliberation. Comparing a variety of car companies along the lines of price, service and vehicle availability is advisable. Most rates will vary in accordance with the car you eventually decide to hire in terms of its size and class. If you require a specialist vehicle, you may well have to search a number of companies to fulfil your requirements. Service should be a major concern as finding a company that delivers good customer service is often worth using again.

When it comes to the car hire company's insurance extras, it is worth considering the options carefully. There is a huge amount of choice in the policies you can take out to deal with all manner of eventualities. It may not always however be worth taking these policies when hiring your car. Look at your own car insurance policy and whether this will cover you for your trip. If it does not, the car hire company's policies may be the right option.

If you have another traveller who is likely to drive the hire car it is advisable to put these additional drivers on the rental contract. If you do not put these drivers on the contract you risk voiding it and losing any protection you may have had in terms of insurance. A lot of companies will not charge extra for placing a spouse on the contract but you should always check with the company before the contract is signed.

Before you drive away you should always make a thorough check of the car inside and out ensuring that any damage is highlighted to the company. Taking the agent with you and performing the check in their presence is advisable so they can make a note of any dents or scratches that may be apparent.

Making sure you stick to the terms of the car hire agreement is fundamental. If there is any mileage restrictions these should be strictly adhered to. Other infringements such as applying snow chains and towing trailers or caravans should also be put in the contract; undertaking these activities without permission may well lead to a voiding of your contract and hence extra surcharges.

If the unlikely event of an accident, their will be paperwork that will undoubtedly follow. Filling out an accident report with both the police and the car hire company will be required and the majority of the time this has to be done within a specific period after the accident, failure to do so may invalidate the contract. The same applies if your car happens to be stolen or vandalised in any way; a police report is normally a prerequisite.

And finally to ensure you rental car experience is a stress free as possible, make sure to return the car on time. Rates are usually calculated on a 24 hour basis so even returning a car just one hour late can mean large penalties. Charges for extra hours can soon add up to the cost of a full days hire so returning your car on time really is essential. If you follow this advice there is no reason that you rental experience will not be enjoyable. With a little planning, a perfect journey is literally only a drive away.
About the Author
Travel expert Thomas Pretty gives advice on ways in which consumers can get the best from their car hire experiences.
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