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The importance of the small print in car hire contracts

Signature1Consumer group Which? Recently revealed that travellers are being stung by fees hidden away within the small print of their car hire contracts. So why is it important to read the small stuff and what should you look out for?

After looking at more than 40 car hire contracts from 18 different providers – both from abroad and in the UK – Which? concluded that unnecessarily complicated documentation was common practice across the industry.

Some car hire contracts were found to be up to 31,000 words long, containing additional fees like late vehicle returns or refuelling, making it easy for travellers to miss things or not bother reading it all together.

In order to avoid any issues, it pays to be precise and read through any paperwork thoroughly before signing or setting off, but what else can you do?

Do your own car checks

The first thing you should do when you’re handed the keys to your rental car is to give it a once over, and take pictures if necessary.

Make sure you document any scratches or dents already on the car, and ensure everything is working as it should. Another thing to keep in mind is that some countries require cars to carry traffic cones, replacement bulbs and a high visibility vest – have a look on the AA website if you’re unsure about what you may need.

Check your fuel policy

This can often be an area where travellers find themselves hit with additional charges, so it pays to be on top of your policy. Different car hire companies will adopt a range of rules and requirements, some will give you the car half full, whilst others may require you to pay for a full tank and accept it returned empty.

Sort out your own insurance

Other investigations have found that car hire companies have a habit of charging customers for insurance they did not actually need, so getting your own policy sorted out before travelling might be worthwhile.

Speak to an insurer to get a quote for excess insurance for example and they can help to ensure you are covered for everything you need.

If you’re thinking of hiring a car abroad this year, keep an eye on the small print and be watchful – that way you can enjoy your trip away, even if something does unfortunately go wrong.

Date Created: 04/10/2017

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