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Explaining The Car Hire Process

Aug 7, 2008
When you are standing at the car hire desk it is often befuddling the number of different optional extras that are presented to you. Half the battle of getting a great deal and only paying for what you need is to understand the terms bandied about by car hire representatives. To prevent you getting stung at the desk, here are some of the most frequently used terms, hopefully it will help you in securing the best, and most affordable deal.

When the rep begins to talk about additional drivers it is important for you to understand that these are simply any other people who may be driving the rental vehicle over the hire period. While it may be tempting to keep the firm in the dark when it comes to additional drivers, ultimately this is a bad idea. The car hire company need to know of the additional drivers due to insurance reasons. If an accident does occur and an unnamed driver is in control of the vehicle it is likely that your rental contract will be voided, making the hire experience extremely expensive. While there may be a surcharge for extra drivers, it is worth paying to avoid large penalties.

Airport surcharges are common in many rental companies. Fundamentally these are additional charges added to a rental contract if the vehicle is being hired from an airport. While you may see this as a way for the rental company purely to line their own pockets, it is in fact the airport management that receives the majority of this surcharge. This is because companies have to pay fees for them to trade within the airport terminal.

A CDW or collision damage waiver is an extremely important part of any rental contract. This covers you should you have an accident whilst driving the vehicle. While it does not act as insurance in the purest sense it is an extra that can save a lot of time, hassle and money should and accident occur.

PAI or personal accident insurance is much like the CDW but instead protects your person rather than the vehicle. Ultimately it covers you from injury or death whilst driving the car; this is usually worth purchasing when abroad where medical fees can be expensive for foreign nationals.

The CWP or cancellation waiver protection package is usually worth obtaining if paying for a hire car well in advance. It covers you should you have to cancel the car and ensures you get your money back. However it will normally be worth checking your credit card details as some cards have this form of protection as part of the service.

If you happen to have an accident and do damage the rental vehicle an insurance excess will normally be applicable. This means that you will have to pay towards the repairs of the car. By paying a damage excess waiver however it is possible to avoid the excess payment should an accident occur. Normally an excess is not a huge sum so it must be weighed up whether the cost of the waiver is worth the cost of the excess.

Hopefully this information has gone some of the way to explaining the rental process and the types of additional services that are offered by hire companies. By understanding what protection you already have it is possible to assess which of these can be deemed worth buying. Ultimately they are added protection that should be in existence already. By checking your rental contract carefully it should be possible to find which of these are worth the additional charge.
About the Author
Travel and consumer expert Thomas Pretty looks into the additional extras provided by car hire firms and translates the terminology used in the industry.
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