Here are AskCiindy.com’s top tips to make your break as smooth as possible this weekend:
- Don’t leave home without the right car insurance. Before you pop across to the Continent, it’s essential you check with your car insurer that you have cover for driving abroad. Even if you don’t have comprehensive cover in the UK, it may be a good idea to have this when you go abroad – should you have an accident it will make arranging repairs easier. Many policies don’t automatically come with this. If yours doesn’t, ask your insurer if you can upgrade your policy for the duration of your trip. Bear in mind, all UK car insurance policies automatically provide the correct minimum cover required by law in all EU countries. However, you may need to top up your cover to ensure you have the same level of protection as in the UK – particularly if you’re comprehensively insured.
- Sort out international breakdown insurance. There can be nothing worse than being stuck on the hard shoulder in a broken down car, when you should be having fun on your holiday. However if you break down abroad, the recovery bill could set you back £1,000 on average. So if you want the security of knowing that someone will come to your rescue if you break down, you need to belong to a recovery service.
- Research the rules of the road before you go. It is essential you do your homework and find out more about your destination’s road laws before you set off. For instance:
- In France all drivers legally must carry a portable breathalyser test (2 euros for a single-use test from most French garages and supermarkets)
- In Austria, winter tyres are compulsory between 1 November and 15 April
- In Bulgaria dipped headlights are a must at all times
- In Spain you must have a spare pair of glasses if you wear glasses to help with driving and can’t drive in flip flops!
- Check out www.gov.uk/driving-abroad for more information about driving regulations abroad
And if you drive a hire car abroad:
- Book in advance to save. Paying to hire a car in advance of your holiday can often save you money.
- Check the insurance provided. Do check if you have to pay locally for insurance and breakdown services. That cheap price you first spotted may not be all it seems. Be aware that prices sometimes state they include “full insurance” but there’s actually an excess – the portion of any insurance claim you must pay yourself – of anything up to £2,000.
- Watch those wheels. Damage to wheels, glass parts and undercarriage are usually excluded from standard insurance. If you damage the car and it’s not covered by the insurance, ask to see a breakdown of charges and a repair invoice, so you know you’re not being overcharged.
- Check the fuel policy. Find out what the fuel policy is before booking. Do you need to return the car full?
- Beware of the upgrade offer. You don’t want to find out you’ve been charged for this later, so ask if it’s free and say no if you’re going to be charged.
- Get collision damage waiver. When you hire a car, the rental agreement should include cover if you have an accident and damage property or injure other people. However, check your rental agreement, as it may not cover any damage caused to the hire vehicle itself – and even if it does certain types of damage may be excluded. It may be worth paying for collision damage waiver (CDW) so that if you have an accident, you do not have to pay for the whole cost of repairing damage to the rental car – although you may still have to pay an amount towards any repair costs – called an excess. You may also have to pay separately to insure your windscreen and tyres.
- Consider getting personal accident cover. Another thing to think about is whether you need personal accident cover. This should be available as an extra from the car rental firm but it’s usually cheaper to make sure that you are covered for driving a hire car by your travel insurance.
- Drive down the insurance excess. Most car rental firms impose an excess – which can be a sizeable figure – often several hundred pounds. An excess is the amount you have to pay in the event of a claim. However, there are some insurers which specialise in providing cover for the insurance excess which allows you to claim the money back if you’re charged. The good thing about arranging cover yourself is that your policy will usually cover parts of the car (such as windows, tyres, the underbody and roof) that are specifically excluded by car hire companies.
- Check what you’re driving. Check the car for pre-existing damage and ensure the car rental firm marks this down. Take photos when collecting and returning the car – and don’t delete them after the trip. This is especially worth doing if you return the car before the rental firm is open and just do a key drop. You don’t want to receive a bill for damage you haven’t caused when you get home.
- Bring your own. Consider taking your own Sat Nav and child seat to avoid paying extra for these. If you do decide to get them from the hire firm, make sure you pay in the local currency rather than sterling, with a poor exchange rate applied.