When using a car hire company it is easy to become bamboozled with all the terminology that applies to the hire of a car. Whilst the agent may know exactly what they are talking about; for the consumer, it is often confusing and can result in you having to pay over the odds for your rental. Here is a short guide to the terms that are likely to be used to help consumers get the best from their experience and receive the best deal. So starting in alphabetical order:
Additional Drivers: it is not always advisable to leave all of the driving to one member of your party as driving long distances can be tiring as well as dangerous. If you would like another person to undertake the driving you must notify the car hire company of any additional drivers at the time of hire. Ensuring that the hire company is aware of these extra people is part of the insurance responsibilities for the company. There is usually an additional charge for extra drivers.
Airport Surcharges: most airports now have car hire desks in the terminals for ease of travel. Whilst this is convenient it usually means the hire company must pay the airport fees to house their services. These fees are usually passed on to the customer in the form of surcharges, they are included in the rental contract so be sure to check carefully.
Collision Damage Waiver: this is an added insurance extra that protects you should you have an accident whilst using the hire car. While an excess is usually applicable it can save a lot of expense, it is not however insurance per se, so you will need your own policy as well.
Personal Accident Insurance: this added extra provides the driver and passengers with extra cover in the event of injury or death. This can be extremely useful abroad when medical charges may be high. Company's policies differ dramatically so check the small print extensively to see exactly what you are paying for.
Theft Protection: this can save your wallet if your hire car is broken into or stolen. It will usually cover the costs over any applicable excess charges.
Cancellation Waiver Protection: as you can never be sure of upcoming circumstances cancellation may become an issue. Most companies will charge for the cancellation of the hire agreement so a waiver paid at the time of booking can protect you against these charges should you have to cancel.
Damage Excess Waiver: as previously stated, it will normally be your responsibility pay any excess charges should you hire car become damaged. This waiver can negate the excess costs by allowing you to claim them back in the event of damage during the rental period.
Insurance Excess: this is simply the cost that you will have to pay should anything go wrong. While it is not the entire price of any repair work it can be a substantial amount so be sure to read any details of the excess charges carefully.
International Driving Permit: this allows the traveller to drive abroad and is essential when using a car outside of your country of residence. It should always be used in addition to a valid driving license for your home nation.
Out of Hours: airport services usually work late and early hours to accommodate the needs of travellers; companies that operate away from major destinations however may have strict opening hours for the dropping off of cars. It is usually the case that if you return your hire car outside of these hours, additional charges will be incurred. Be sure to take note of these times before you depart so not to pick up any of these extra fees.
Hopefully this brief glossary has helped the average consumer unravel some of the terminology used in the car hire industry. By getting a good idea of what these terms mean it should be possible to learn exactly what you are paying for and subsequently get a great deal.
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at the variety of terminology used in the car hire industry so consumers can get a better understanding and hence a better deal.