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Rental car company and rental car insurance in Scotland and Ireland

I am very concerned about renting a car in Scotland and Ireland (separate rentals). There seem to be differing opinions on 2 topics:
1. whether to rent from a local company, use a UK car rental consolidator or rent from an American chain such as Enterprise, Hertz etc.
2. if it is necessary to pay for extra insurance on the rental car.
If anyone has current information on either of these questions, I would very much appreciate the advice.

Posted by
122 posts

We just rented from Avis in Ireland (booked online on the .ie site) and purchased the Super CDW at the counter when we picked up the vehicle. There is absolutely no way I would rent without the extra insurance coverage. While we didn't actually strike anything, there were a few very narrow roads we drove on where the shrubbery on the side had not been trimmed recently. It stuck so far out that when I moved to the left to allow another vehicle to pass, it scraped the left side of the vehicle. The entire side was scratched. I paid nothing extra because I had purchased the Super CDW. We had no issues with renting from Avis. They gave us an automatic as requested. (We picked up the vehicle at the Shannon airport.)

Posted by
5559 posts

I always pay the extra insurance. It means your car rental costs as much as your airplane ticket, but it gives you peace of mind. First of all, you are driving on the left and you are not used to it. No matter how good you are, you will bump the tires on a curb. You will drive on the wee roads and will have shrubbery brush against your car and scratch. You will also run over the curb and possibly damage the tire. The odds that you will return the car in the same condition that you received it are very slim. I LOVE to drive in Scotland. I now live in NYC and I really think that I have more miles on the left than on the right. But I still will pay for full insurance. I think it's likely a wash between the extra charge and the problems that they would find with the car upon return. It is not the same as renting in the US.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you Pam and Sibdaisy. Your advice is so valuable and helpful to me. I will follow your lead. I feel much more confident of the approach to take.

Posted by
5559 posts

Yes, I agree it's costly, but the cost of not doing it is also costly. I commend you if you drove throughout Scotland and never had a scratch. I couldn't do it. We had a flat tire, that was not our fault but would have been our charge without the insurance. I KNOW that I scuff the side walls of the tires. I don't think that the US companies even look for that, but in the UK they do as they know that all those right-hand drivers will hit the curb.

Posted by
122 posts

We just came back from a nine-day self driving trip in Scotland in May (7 days with the car), and we got our rental car from Arnold Clark (reserved online at home through CelticLegend.co.uk) and were very happy with them. We did not have to put a deposit down at the time we reserved the car, we got an extra driver for free and they were very quick to respond back to any questions we had, plus we got an itemized reservation emailed to us before we left home. We were upgraded to a nearly new 2018 Peugeot 3008 (10k miles) and loved the gps that came with it. We picked up at their Sighthill location (Edinburgh) and dropped back off at the Edinburgh Airport.

And I would certainly recommend you get the full excess waiver when you reserve, especially, as others have mentioned, for those narrow single-track roads in Scotland. We paid a total of £70 for a week, with AC, to get the coverage and while we never ended up needing it, it gave us real peace of mind.

Posted by
200 posts

Hi all,
I just booked a car with Arnold Clark too. With full coverage and the GPS it will cost a total of 330 GBP (@431. 54 for 9 days. )Can't beat that.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you so much for your input. Very helpful from all. Makes the trip planning so much easier because of your guidance. I will check out Arnold Clark for sure.

Posted by
2744 posts

We rented from Hertz and because we needed an automatic transmission with enough legroom for a partially mobility-limited passenger we ended up in a black Mercedes. What a beautiful car! But, on our first day, within 15 minutes of parking at our hotel, someone scraped the passenger side. (We know it happened then because I went back out from our room to get my husband's jacket out of the car and saw the damage.) The next day while we were parked at a popular tourist attraction, someone scraped the driver's side.

We were very glad we had purchased the full-on insurance. When we returned the car to Hertz there was absolutely no problem, and we were never charged or even asked about these scratches on the car afterwards.

Posted by
38 posts

For our upcoming trip to Scotland we made our rental car reservations with Budget. I picked an American company because I also want to use American Express to pay for the rental and use the auto insurance that you can sign up for. It seems less expensive than the insurance you can get directly from the auto rental companies and is full coverage.

Posted by
360 posts

We always book our cars with American Express, as they cover insurance as part of your agreement. You can always call to clarify exactly what it covers and if you're comfortable with that level of liability or want to add more. We rented through Hertz and did not have to pay anything extra. However, friends of ours rented a few months earlier through a European company (I can't remember the name) and when they showed up, they forced them to pay another $300 for required insurance (that was not disclosed anywhere upfront) to get the car. Their costs wound up being the same as ours overall, but it was the principle of not disclosing it upfront. So, I'd just get clarity from whoever you're considering on what ALL of the required charges are and then the potential add-ons.

Posted by
200 posts

Thanks Becky! I'll definitely make sure to get total price up front. I think I have it, but will check again to make sure there will be NO MORE charges when we get there. I'll also take copies of all emails between myself and the car rental agent. Thanks for the advice!!

Posted by
940 posts

Just back from 30 fantastic days in Scotland. Skye, Harris, Rum, Arran, Plockton, etc. Sunny weather all but two days. I used my signature Visa for insurance coverage. It covers all damages, provided that you decline all insurance coverages on your rental agreement. Had one very minor wheel cover scrape, for which I was billed 65 pounds. Will be submitting insurance claim to Visa on Monday.

You can use Visa signature for insurance in Scotland; however, rental insurance, purchased through the car hire company, is mandatory in Ireland.

Just got back today. Off to bed now. My body is telling me that I'm still on Scottish time. :)

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
200 posts

Congrats on your trip!!! I am jealous!! I rented a car (or reserved) from Arnold Clark. I got the GPS and the Excess Reduced option. I thought the price wasn't too bad @ 330 for all. But I am looking into getting a Credit Card to take with me to Scotland and to make reservations for tours and such.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again, djohnstonblair,

I've gone through Avis on our last eight trips to Scotland. Their prices are competitive with most of the other companies. I've found over the years that you can get just as good a deal by working directly with the car hire company or hotel, rather than going through a consolidator. Sometimes the direct price is better, especially in the case of lodging, and the hotelier gets all of the money.

Working directly also avoids errors in communication.

Best wishes for your travels!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
200 posts

Hi Mike (Auchterless),
What do you know about hotel and B&B's? I have made reservation with an online site mainly because I can reserve with no pre-payment and also get free cancelation if need be. Will contacting them direct be a better choice do you think??
Thanks, Kathy

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, Kathy,

On this past trip, I booked four B&B/guest houses directly after looking at their prices on booking.com. I then went to the individual websites for the lodging. The prices were identical or slightly lower. However, booking.com gave the choice of making the bookings directly through them, and paying a service charge in addition to the booking. The combination of cost of accommodation and fee brought the total to more than the cost of lodging at the individual website. Also, at the time I looked, the pound was at $1.42. The dollar had been becoming stronger against the pound, so I hedged my bets, and made arrangements to pay the lodging in pounds upon arrival. While we were in Scotland, the pound fluctuated between $1.31 and $1.33, so I paid cash, and the owners were quite happy with not having to pay the 2.5% service charge to their banks.

I suspect the the hoteliers never see a penny of the fees charged by booking.com and their ilk.

Personally, I think that B&B and guest house owners appreciate the effort that you make to contact them directly, rather than going through a third party. I have contacted them by telephone and by e-mail. I much prefer the telephone, but that's just me.

Hope that helps!

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: If you haven't paid ahead, it's a good idea to contact your lodging in early afternoon on your date of arrival, to let them know that you're on your way. If they don't think that you're coming, they may give up your room, especially in high season.

Posted by
940 posts

Another thing that frosts my shorts with these consolidators is that they frequently have in red lettering something like "In high demand! Only one room left at this price!" Or "Book now!" Or "Two rooms booked in the last hour!" Then you go to the individual lodging's website, and they have lots of rooms available. I fell for it once years ago, but never again!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
200 posts

Thanks Mike!! Yes I have booked a few with Booking.com. Yes they are listed as paying no booking fees and I have free cancelation and no pre payment. I have confirmation numbers for the reservations. I thought that since I don't pay until I get to the property that I would call them ahead of getting there and asking if they prefer cash or card. I will go to the individual sites and see what they offer and may call them directly. I want good lodgings but not real expensive, since We will only be there to sleep and shower. We will be "out the door" most of the time. I spend very little time in hotels. This trip will be my first staying in B&B's. Not really sure what to expect. My next hurdle is finding a flight. I know NOTHING about airlines as I have never flown before. I have been in helicopter flights before and LOVED them. Large planes????? maybe I can get drugged before I get on the plan. I knew I shouldn't have watched the show on crashes :0)) or :0(( depending on how the flight goes.
Kathy

Posted by
200 posts

Hi again Mike,

I just finished checking the individual sites against online booking site. It seems that I am getting a better deal on the online booking site, if only by a few dollars and one of lodgings was the same price. But thank you for the tip. It may come in handy later for future trips!!
Thanks again!!!!!
Kathy

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again, Kathy,

With airlines, generally the further ahead you book, the better fare you'll get. This is one time when booking through a consolidator may help. However, if you have any worries about having to change or cancel your flight, it's safer to book directly through the airlines. Several airline companies offer direct flights from the U.S. to Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Inverness. Others go through London Heathrow or London Gatwick.

Airline travel is extremely safe. The only problem is being cooped up in what is basically a large cigar tube for eight hours. Personally, I can never sleep on Transatlantic (or any) flights, even overnight ones. I usually bring a book to read, but when I feel myself getting sleepy, I put the book down, and I'm instantly wide awake again. :(

B&Bs can be a lot of fun. The nice thing about them is that you get to meet people from all over. You'll be seated at breakfast either at your own individual table, or at a table with others. You may meet fellow Americans or visitors from continental Europe. If you speak a foreign language, even slightly, you can try it out with your new friends. Most better B&Bs now have en-suite facilities, which means that you have your own toilet and shower/bathtub within your room. Older, unconverted B&Bs have a separate toilet and shower which you may have to share. Most B&Bs now have televisions in the rooms, so you can watch dreadful British reality and game shows in the privacy of your room. BBC ALBA has the best programming, although most of it's in Scots Gaelic.

Most B&Bs now give you a sheet to fill out in the evening so that you can check off what you'd like for breakfast. That's your opportunity to try haggis or black pudding, Scots bacon, and your choice of eggs. Baked beans and fried tomatoes are on most lists, although fried tomatoes are an acquired taste. Kippers are tasty, but they are a lot of work because of the bones.

If you haven't already done all of your booking, you may want to consider the Premier Inn chain of hotels. We stayed in Premier Inns in Aberdeen, Dundee, and Falkirk on this last trip, and we've also stayed in their Edinburgh, Elgin, and Inverness facilities on previous trips. If you book far enough in advance, you can get a room for between 35 and 40 pounds. That doesn't include breakfast, but you can get a good inexpensive breakfast at most supermarkets which have a cafe. Or you can get an all you can eat breakfast at the hotel for about nine pounds. Premier Inn rooms are clean, comfortable, and well appointed, if a bit soulless.

You are going to love Scotland!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
200 posts

Thank you Mike. I am getting more accustomed to the idea of flying in that "cigar tube" of a plane. Now I just wonder where to sit if I can get a choice. I am looking for flights now, but am not really finding anything yet. Looking at flight times, I like the idea of the shorter 11 hour flight (leaving from GSO in NC to New York then to Scotland, I believe) The shorter the better!!! I will check out the hotel chain. I may actually be able to add another day or two :)) Not really sure I want to try Black Pudding or Haggis!! It doesn't sound appetizing to me but, there are a few desserts I would like to try though!! I wish I was leaving sooner on my trip. But, this will give me something to look forward to this school year!!
Kathy

Posted by
11 posts

Get the smallest car you can! We got a larger SUV type and driving in Ireland was terrifying - we scraped so many walls. :(

Posted by
200 posts

Hi suzi.nole,
I did reserve a smaller car in an automatic. There will only be two of us, maybe only one if my friend can't go and we won't have a lot of luggage (I hope) to carry with us. We will be getting it in Edinburgh. The Driver will pick us up and take us to the car rental office to get car and then we will be on our way to the other parts of Scotland we will want to visit. e will then drop off at the Edinburgh airport. I am hoping I can get the hang of driving on the left side quickly and not have any major events (nor minor either)!!!

Kathy