Leasing, Purchasing & Hiring Overseas

Understanding and Managing Risks Related to Overseas Vehicle Rentals

It’s not uncommon for individual travelers and groups to rent cars, vans and other vehicles to make getting around overseas easier.  Dangerous road conditions, vehicle malfunctions, local practices, and travelers’ lack of familiarity can contribute to accidents and other serious risks. 

International travelers, both individuals and groups, need to think hard about the risks before renting a vehicle overseas and, when possible, utilize other options.  Insurance, while necessary, does not protect you from many of these risks.  Understand the risks and what kinds of situations can arise, and take steps to prevent them including finding an alternative to renting a vehicle.

Consider the following when determining your methods of travel:

  • Driver’s lack of familiarity with a foreign locale (e.g., conditions, practices, laws, road layout).
  • Dangerous road conditions (e.g., poor maintenance, tricky terrain, heavy congestion, unfamiliar traffic patterns, banditry).
  • Local driving practices that may be unpredictable and unsafe.
  • Pedestrian habits that are unfamiliar and possibly risky.
  • Different (or absent) standards for rental vehicle maintenance (e.g., seatbelt availability and usage).
  • Local laws and regulations for driving violations and accidents, which may be significantly more severe than in the U.S. and can include jail time.
  • Corruption (e.g., expectations of on-site payments to avoid traffic citations, targeting of rental vehicles for pullovers).

What you can do to reduce risk:

  • Utilize prearranged travel whenever possible. This service may be available through your hotel.
  • Prior to your trip, be sure to consult the ASIRT website for current information about road conditions and local travel at your destination, including suggestions for managing risks and avoiding trouble (requires NetID and password).
  • Consult the UnitedHealthcare Global (formerly FrontierMEDEX) website for information about security conditions in specific areas of your country of travel.
  • Consider alternatives to renting a vehicle, including using local public transportation, hiring a local driver with a vehicle, and asking your local contacts about other safer options.
  • Wear a seatbelt!  If the vehicle doesn’t have seat belts, do not ride in it.
  • If you must rent a vehicle, purchase insurance, but also make sure you understand local practices, rules, conditions, and the road layout.  
  • Contact the Yale Risk Management office with questions or for help.