BE­FORE YOU GET BE­HIND THE WHEEL

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL WISDOM CAR HIRE - TIANA TEMPLEMAN

Don’t get taken for a ride when hir­ing a car over­seas. Read on to learn about in­sur­ance and cost-sav­ing strate­gies and to dis­cover why pho­tograph­ing your ride is es­sen­tial (no, it’s not for In­sta­gram).

CHECK YOU ARE IN­SURED

Car hire in­sur­ance in­clu­sions vary sig­nif­i­cantly over­seas. Euro­pean hire in­cludes Col­li­sion Dam­age Waiver (CDW), which means you only pay the ex­cess (this is the same as Aus­tralia).

How­ever, in the United States in­sur­ance such as CDW is not in­cluded.

This means you could be li­able for the cost of the en­tire ve­hi­cle in the event of an ac­ci­dent. Aus­tralian car hire agen­cies such as DriveAway Hol­i­days usu­ally in­clude stan­dard in­sur­ance such as CDW.

THINK TWICE BE­FORE PAY­ING EX­TRA TO LOWER YOUR EX­CESS

When you ar­rive to col­lect your car, the per­son at the counter will al­most cer­tainly of­fer the op­tion to pay an ad­di­tional daily charge to lower the (eye­wa­ter­ing) ex­cess. This charge re­duces the amount you pay in the event of an ac­ci­dent. Your travel in­sur­ance and/or some credit cards may al­ready cover this so don’t sim­ply as­sume you should say “yes”.

Check if you are al­ready cov­ered be­fore you leave home, it could save you hun­dreds.

DO YOU RE­ALLY NEED THAT IN­TER­NA­TIONAL DRIVER’S PER­MIT?

Some coun­tries re­quire an In­ter­na­tional Driv­ing Per­mit (IDP) in ad­di­tion to your reg­u­lar Aus­tralian driver’s li­cence. It is un­likely a car hire com­pany will ask to see it but if you get pulled over in Italy, for ex­am­ple, you could get fined by po­lice if you don’t have an IDP. Check your state’s Aus­tralian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AAA) web­site for which coun­tries re­quire an IDP. If you need one, it can be ob­tained for be­tween $25 and $50 from your AAA.

JOIN THE CLUB

It costs ex­tra for some ser­vices when hir­ing a

car over­seas. One way hir­ing a to avoid these charges is to check if they are cov­ered by the com­pany’s loy­alty scheme. For ex­am­ple, Hertz waive the ad­di­tional driver fee for loy­alty pro­gram mem­bers. These cost noth­ing to join and in­clude ben­e­fits such as 10 per cent off stan­dard rates and com­pli­men­tary up­grades.

TAKE PHO­TOS AT PICK-UP AND DROP-OFF

Even if your hire car isn’t In­sta-wor­thy, you should take pho­tos at pick-up and drop-off. These can be used to ver­ify ex­ist­ing dam­age so you don’t get charged for re­pair­ing things that weren’t your fault. Scratches and dings will be marked on a pa­per form show­ing a draw­ing of a car. Take the time to go through this care­fully. Add any dam­age which may have been missed by the car rental agent to avoid prob­lems at drop-off.

GET HELP WITH DI­REC­TIONS

Hir­ing a GPS can cost up­wards of $20 a day. It can be more eco­nom­i­cal to buy a cheap unit at your des­ti­na­tion (these can be pro­grammed for English). GPS smart­phone apps which work on­line and off­line are also avail­able. Many of these are free to down­load. Pa­per road maps can be pur­chased at ser­vice sta­tions and, un­like a smart­phone or GPS, don’t re­quire a satel­lite con­nec­tion. Con­sider buy­ing one as a backup, and you’ll be glad you did.

HAWAII

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