Hiring a car for a late season ski holiday? Here’s what you need to know

Ski1If you’re planning to enjoy a late season ski holiday in 2018 and intend to hire a car, you may want to brush up on the various laws that exist.

Not only might a hire be a cost effective means of getting to the slopes in the first place, but it also provides flexibility when you arrive, especially if you want to check out other resorts too.

Driving in the snow is no easy task though, and to make the process more complicated, you’ll find that many countries have differing laws relating to winter tyres, snow chains and the like.

But first you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you get a vehicle that is adequate for your needs – especially when you have lots of ski equipment on top of your regular holiday cases.

The key point to remember is that the driver takes responsibility to ensure that a car is legal to be used on the roads in any given country, even if that vehicle is a hire car.

In some European countries, winter tyres are compulsory, while in others they are recommended to reduce risk.

From a car hire perspective, a compulsory winterisation fee is usually included in the quote and this will cover extras such as snow chains and winter tyres.

If you’re planning to head to Austria before April 15 or to certain Italian regions by the same date, you’ll find that winter tyres are compulsory by law.

The same situation applies in Norway until March 15, although these dates can be extended if weather conditions are poor – you’ll therefore need to check to ensure your car hire vehicle is road legal.

Meanwhile in France and Switzerland it is not compulsory to have winter tyres, but it is highly recommended.

It is not a legal requirement to have snow chains fitted in most countries, but you will need to have them in your vehicle.

Austria, France, Switzerland, Andorra, Italy and Norway legally require drives to snow chains during winter periods, as well as suitable warning equipment such as an orange triangle.

When renting a car, you should check to see if the chains are included in the winterisation fee, as they may not be and that could see your costs increase as a result.

One final thing to consider relates to where you are hiring your car from.

Since May 2016, you cannot take a Swiss-registered hire car into EU countries, so if you plan to fly to Switzerland and then cross into France, check with your hire firm to make sure you have a vehicle with the right registration plates.

You may also wish to cover the excess on your insurance policy with car hire excess insurance – this can provide peace of mind as you’ll be covered from major pay-outs, even if you need to claim.

Date Created: 21 February 2018 by Questor Insurance