Dear Essential Travel,
For the festive season I really wanted to do something different with my family. We considered road tripping to Edinburgh (we currently stay in Cambridge) and we would prefer to hire a car since it's a long distance trip. The problem is that I have no idea how hiring a car works. Are we charged by distance travelled or the number of days we use the car? How does the insurance work? Can more than one person drive the car? I've tried to look for this kind of information online, but it all looks quite complicated. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated.
Julie Mitchell, Cambridge
Thank you so much for your question. I'm sure that there are many people who can relate to your confusion and Essential Travel is more than happy to assist. Hiring a car can be daunting, especially if you're new to it. As with most things, hiring a car depends largely on what you're looking for and what company you choose to hire a car from. The bigger the car, the more you'll pay. You'll also have to fork out a bit more if more than one person will be driving as this has to be covered by insurance. However, before you start this process, there are a few things you need to think about first.
In addition to the information collected above during your planning, you'll have to know the following when booking your car.
All available cars are classified according to size (mini, 4x4, limousine), class (economy, premium, luxury) or a distinguishing feature (coupe, convertible, eco-friendly). A distinction is also made between manual and automatic cars.
Keep in mind that the hired car is your responsibility for the duration of the rental period. Getting additional car insurance is advised. Essential Travel provides customers with an annual or daily Car Hire Excess Insurance for any damages incurred on the vehicle. Damages covered by this insurance includes damage to the tyres, windscreen and under-body of the car - not always covered by car hire companies.
You will need to present the following things when you collect your hired car.
Before the start of your rental period, most hire companies either supply you with a full tank of fuel as standard or they give you the option to buy a tank of fuel. You will be responsible for all refuelling for the duration of your rental period. You are, however, advised to check the fuelling options available at your chosen car hire company.
To ensure you're getting the products and services you booked, it is important to check the following before leaving the car hire company. Performing these checks in front of a company representative is best. They can immediately document any discrepancies and make the necessary corrections before your trip at no extra charge. If you leave without doing this, you will be assumed responsible for any discrepancies.
During your rental period you are expected to fill up with fuel and care for the hired car as you would your own, abide by the safety regulations of the area youâre driving in, and try not to damage the car in any way. Should you run into any trouble you can call Roadside Assistance.
This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Simply call the number provided. It is usually toll-free.
In the event of a car accident, remember to take the insurance details of all parties involved and note exactly how the accident happened. Roadside Assistance should be contacted if you are unable to drive the car. If the car is still safe to drive in, you may continue on your journey, but you must report the incident with your car hire company.
If, for any reason, you are unable to drop your car off at the date or time agreed upon during booking, you may apply for an extension. This will need to be arranged as soon as possible. You will be charged extra. Please note that companies charge in periods of 24 hours. Therefore, even if you're just one hour late, you could be charged for a complete extra day.
You have two fuelling options when you drop off your hired car. You can either fill up the car before returning it or you can return the car with whatever remains in the tank. If you choose the latter option, you will not be refunded for the remaining fuel and you will be charged with the amount needed to refill the tank.
Some companies, however, have special fuelling options. For instance, with Avis, if you only plan to drive the car 75 miles or less, you'll only be charged for the initial fill up of the car. Any subsequent refuelling can be charged to them, with proof of receipts upon your return.
If you have any more questions, then you can always ask the car hire company that you choose to book with. Once again, everything depends on the kind of car you want to hire and how far you will be travelling. We hope we've managed to help make that decision easier for you. Have a fantastic and safe trip.