Renting a car in Europe can be not quite as easy as you think.
First of all – the insurance. Call your credit card company and make sure what you think is insured is insured. The cost of a rental car can literally double per day if you take the rental car’s suggested insurance options. Your credit card should cover you for all of the insurance that you need. But there is a catch – the credit card company is simply going to back up your own insurance if there is a problem. Thus, if you have an accident overseas, the credit card company will first go to your USA auto insurance policy and look for the coverage there. If they cannot find it, then they will back you up. But it’s not certain, it’s complicated, it’s time consuming, and as always, it is simply designed as a way for insurance companies to avoid the risk of something happening. It’s sort of like the ad, they cover for zombie invasion but an accident in a car may not be covered by your insurance! So when travelling overseas, just make sure that that is sealed tight.
Second, it also goes without saying that you should fill the tank before you drop the car off.
It’s another way for rental car companies to screw the living daylights out of you.
Lastly, and through no fault of the rental agencies, Europe is a lot hipper and sneakier than the USA in terms of speeding tickets or general fines.
To begin with, do not be fooled because you never see a cop parked in a hidden driveway or somebody staring at you with the speed gun. In Europe it is all done with cameras and as soon as the camera catches you speeding and flashes, you’re done. What that means is that there is no 10 mph forgiveness zone that most of the time is granted in the USA. If you are traveling at 66 km/h in a 60 km/h limit, the speed camera will go off. You’ve been caught on camera. Eventually that fine will make its way to the rental company and the rental company eventually will hit you with that ticket with extra surcharges because obviously it’s late in payment. Fines can be high and rental car companies do not provide information about this. Europeans are very aware of the cameras and in France, the UK, and Italy there are cameras everywhere.
Good news is that the speed cameras have lowered the average speed of drivers and have saved thousands of lives. The bad news is that it is a source of revenue for the local authorities. Same with parking tickets. What used to be easy with a rental car is not so easy anymore. The fine will eventually get back to you with late surcharges and you could end up with a bill on your credit card from the rental agencies up to one year later (which they are allowed to do). Just because the Europeans have a higher speed limit than the USA, it doesn’t mean you can speed like the old days. You will pay for it one way or another.
Image courtesy of http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/.