Renting Vehicles Abroad
International car rentals or “hires,” present much different issues than rentals in the U.S. You can expect higher fuel prices, different units of measure, differing rules of the road and road conditions, currency conversion, and age requirements as well as different traffic and insurance regulations in your destination country.
Here are some considerations (words of caution):
- Book and pay in advance. Rates are usually higher at the counter than over the phone or online. Once you are abroad, shifting exchange rates, unfamiliar rental specs, language barriers and cultural differences can cause problems.
- Know the local rules of the road well before you get into the car. These include: speed limits, which side of the road to drive on, restricted areas, who has the right of way in a traffic circle and whether you're permitted to turn right on a red light. Watch out for traffic cameras. They are very common in Europe, will record your license plate and send fines to the rental agency who will pass them along to you with a fee.
- Also find out which roads to avoid.
- Inspect the vehicle before you drive it to avoid being charged for pre-existing damages. Don’t forget to look under the vehicle too.
- The minimum driving age for most countries is 25. However, many companies will allow you to rent at a lower age for an extra fee.
- For most rentals, there will be a fee for additional drivers. Typically, all drivers must show valid credit and ID in order to rent/drive the vehicle.
- Make sure your rental rate includes liability insurance coverage for accident-related damage to anyone or anything outside the car.
- Make sure the insurance includes medical coverage for injuries to drivers, passengers, and third parties.
- You will also need coverage for damage to or theft of the car itself. You can buy collision damage waiver (CDW) and loss damage waiver (LDW) through the car-rental company or as part of a larger, travel-insurance policy.
- These coverages aren’t insurance, but waivers: the rental company waives its right to collect a high deductible from you in the event the car is damaged/stolen. Note that this “waiver” doesn’t eliminate the deductible, just reduces it. CDW usually excludes the undercarriage, roof, tires, windshield, windows, interior, and side mirrors. LDW covers just the loss of the car, not anything stolen from inside it.
- Ask about car rental excess insurance that would lower or eliminate your deductible.
- Ask about insurance for towing, diminished value and "loss of use”. Diminished value covers the loss of in value during re-sale of a damaged vehicle. Loss of use covers claims when the car is in the shop after an accident and can't earn rental fees.
- Look for companies that offer 24-hour hotline assistance, so if you run into trouble on the road, help's just a phone call away.
- Be careful: Claims stemming from accidents in which the renter has been issued a citation may be rejected.
- Be sure to check with your personal credit card company if you expect them to provide rental insurance. The coverages are limited and many will not cover rentals abroad or rentals for business use.
- In most cases, renters and additional drivers must hold a driving license from their country of residence for a minimum of 12 months.
- It is recommended that you carry an International Drivers Permit (IDP). An IDP is written in 10 languages and serves as an officially recognized translation of your local driving license in over 150 participating members of the United Nations. Your IDP should always be accompanied by your valid local driver’s license and passport. The Permit has been widely used for more than fifty years and is recognized almost anywhere in the world. More information on international driving permits can be found at http://www.idlicense.com.