Car Rental –The Do’s and Don’ts to handling accidents and disputes.
Renting a car whilst on holidays is now so much more popular with the advent of cheaper flights.
For most rentals all runs smoothly however the occasional road traffic accident is inevitable what with strange road signs and differing road user behaviour!
When it happens it’s important to ensure that you are treated fairly by the rental agency, having a motor accident is bad enough, it’s important that you also feel helped through the process.
An interesting little known service is available to consumers throughout Europe should they run into problems in this area.
Known as the Eurpoean Car rental Conciliation Service – ECRCS. We felt it important to let you know about this cost effective and helpful service which covers situations where you are a renter from one EU country and the rental takes place in a different EU country.
Here are some details which may be of interest.
Who can use the service?
1.Rental customer – You must be a customer of the company subscribing to the ECRCS.
- Unresolved complaint – you must have gone through the rental company’s own complaint procedure first.
- EU only –The conciliation service can only help with disputes involving a ‘cross-border’ rental transaction occurring within the European Union – you must be a resident of the EU and the rental must have taken place in a different EU country. If your complaint concerns a non-cross-border rental you should raise the matter in your own country through any local dispute resolution process that may exist.
If your complaint concerns a cross-border rental, but is not covered by the ECRCS then you may wish to contact the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) to get more information about your rights.
How much does it cost to use this service?
This service is free.
How long will it take to resolve the complaint?
Normally within 30 days from the date it was received..
How will I know the outcome of your decision?
Both parties to the dispute will receive a written decision in writing or by email.
Can I make an appeal against your decision?
No. You are however free to seek legal remedy through the courts
What does the service cover?
Car rental service only! The conciliation service will investigate potential breaches of the Code of Best Practice, which sets out the standards it expects from the car rental industry. These standards cover areas including advertising, customer information, car condition, pre- and post-rental inspections and billing.
What does the service not cover?
The service cannot investigate any matters which are deemed to be criminal in nature or fall outside the scope of the Code of Conduct. For example, we cannot look into personal injury claims.
The service does not award any compensation payments in relation to alleged financial losses.
In general booking a car can be made a lot easier if you ‘go prepared’. Here are the tops tips to help matters run smoothly
Booking a vehicle
- Be sure to establish what is included in your booking when purchasing a rental over the Phone
- Pay attention to what is included in the rental rate e.g . extra fee to pick up and drop off in different locations, restrictions on number of km you can drive
- Select the make and model that best suits your needs , particularly if you are carrying a lot of luggage and passengers
- Determine if there will be additional costs for car seats, winter tyres, sat nav etc
- You will need a valid driving license for the type of vehicle required
- You will need id e.g. passport
- May need a utility Bill
At the Rental Desk
- The Rental agreement is the formal contract between you and the rental company and is signed at the desk
- The agreement will include vehicle details, hire period and amount agreed to pay.
- Please read the full terms and conditions in this agreement.
- If it is a requirement to pay for excess mileage please ensure you understand the daily allowance and the basis on which any excess mileage will be calculated and charged
- Check the mileage is recorded properly on the rental agreement when you are collecting and returning the vehicle.
- Collision and damage waiver : You are liable for the full cost if the vehicle is lost or damaged. If vehicle is returned outside office hours, you are responsible for it until it has been fully inspected.
- Theft Waiver: This provides cover if the rental vehicle is stolen or someone damages it while attempting to steal it.
- Exclusion to the theft or damage waiver cover: Check if things such as windscreens,tyres or roof damage are excluded.
- Personal accident Insurance: This is an option the provides the authorised driver and passengers of the vehicle with financial cover if they suffer an injury or damage to personal effects arising from the use of the rented vehicle
- There can be varying options re fuel
- Drive away with a full tank and return a full tank
- Pay the rental company for the fuel you use
- Purchase a tank of fuel from the rental company
and return the vehicle empty
Checking the Vehicle
- Inspect the vehicle carefully on collection by walking all the way around looking for signs of damage.
- Make sure any dents and scratches are noted on the rental agreement
- A Rental company employee should be present with you when you are making these checks, if none is present the make note of this on the agreement.
- It’s always helpful to take a few photos of your rental car before you take it!
- If in doubt ask to see a copy of the inspection return sheet last completed prior to your rental, this will or will not record damage. It something is not on that list bring it to the renters attention!
In the event of Breakdown
- Rental vehicles should be covered by roadside assistance check the T & C, see if there is a 24 hour helpline phone number
- Check which roadside assistance company is used by the rental company.
- Inform the rental company of any problems as soon as they are detected
In the event of a car accident
- If you have a car accident you must not admit liability to a third party
- You should immediately complete an accident report and have completed by any third party involved
- Call the nearest branch of the company you have rented the car from
- A detailed procedure of what to do in the event of a car accident should be included in the rental agreement.
Road Traffic Offences
- If you commit a Road Traffic Offence while in a rented vehicle you may be liable to an admin fee from the rental company on top of your fine.
- The original notice and fine for the traffic offence will be sent to you to pay
Returning the vehicle
- The vehicle must be returned in good condition both inside and out
- You are liable for any repair or refurbishment costs.
- The outside of the vehicle does not need to be washed
- Alow plenty of time when checking the vehicle in on return.
- Make sure both yourself and the rental company employee sign the rental agreement for any damage
Returning the vehicle out of hours
- It is recommended that vehicle is returned within opening hours.
- If you return the vehicle out of hours the cost of any damage to the vehicle while ir remains unattended is your responsibility
- You should take photographs both inside and of the vehicle once parked at drop off point.
- Check with your rental company to see if any other options are available to reduce the risk further