Returning your hired vehicle can be nerve-wracking – especially if you’ve ever heard the horror stories about renters returning their hire car in perfectly good condition, only to discover they’ve been charged an enormous excess days later. The solution may be to buy car hire excess insurance before you travel from an independent provider. Typically, independently bought policies may be more cost-effective as well as offer more comprehensive cover.
Of course, it isn’t just getting charged a big excess that is a worry when you hire a car, what about when you return it? If you’re worried about returning your hire car and want to ensure you’re protected on all fronts, these tips may help you out.
Return it on time!
Always check the date and time that you need to return your vehicle by. If you booked online, it’ll be on your confirmation email. You should also ask for confirmation when you actually pick up the vehicle. If you arrive even an hour or two late, you could end up being charged for an extra day’s rental.
Try to arrange the return of the vehicle during the rental firm’s opening hours – that way if there’s a dispute, you’ll be there in person to discuss it, rather than hearing about it days later from your credit card company.
Final condition report
Circumstances permitting, it’s advised that you hang around at the car hire desk to secure a copy of the final condition report before you leave. This will show you if any faults have been found with the vehicle you’ve returned, and will allow you to dispute it face-to-face. It’s always advised to keep all documentation, even after the hire has ended, in case you need to claim on a car hire excess insurance policy.
Check your fuel policy
Many European car hire firms are now introducing a ‘full-empty’ policy, which means renters pay upfront for a full tank, and must return the vehicle as close to empty as possible.
Try to comply with this policy as much you can – you may be offered some kind of refund if there’s fuel still in the tank, but it’s likely to be saddled with service and administration fees that leave you out of pocket.
Some other companies still ask that you return the car with a full tank of fuel. In this case, make sure you fill up on the way to drop the car off, and save the receipt from the fuel station as proof that you filled the tank recently.
Make sure you have all added extras
If you’ve booked any kind of added extra with your rented vehicle – baby seats, snow chains, bike racks, roof racks, satnavs or winter tyres – make sure they’re returned with the car. It sounds simple, but if you realise an hour after dropping off the car that the satnav is still in your bag, or the baby seat is back at the hotel, you could still end up being charged for them.
You should have taken a number of pictures when you first picked up your car, to prove the condition the vehicle was in when you drove it away, in case of disputes. It’s always wise to do the same when you drop the vehicle off. Take pictures from the same angles if you can, to show that there has been no damage sustained during the period you’ve had the car for.