Hiring a car abroad – it’s not just the car insurance you need to worry aboutWritten by Paul Johnson
Whilst soaking up to sun on Costa del Sol you’re a world away from stress and troubles of normal working life. No deadlines, no road rage and no commuter traffic making you late for work.
However, if you decide to hire a car there’s more than just your driving license and car insurance to think about, you could be putting yourself in more danger than you would at home. In Spain there are twelve times as many fatal accidents as UK for number of vehicles on road. And figures aren’t much different in other holiday destinations such as Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Italy.
With these shocking statistics – you need to make sure you hire a safe and reliable car. Following a survey by ‘Holiday Which?’, two out of every five hire cars inspected in Costa del Sol were unsafe. Problems include:
•Under-inflated tyres – can seriously affect road handling •Bald tyres – can be lethal at any time •Cut or bulge on tyre – increases risk of a blow-out •Faulty airbag – which fail to operate in an emergency •No parcel shelves – a danger when luggage is in back of car
As a result of these dangers it’s vital that before signing car hire contract you check a number of things. duck2water Car Insurance (www.duck2watercarinsurance.co.uk), who specialise in car insurance for drivers with over 4 years no claim history, offer ten useful tips:
1.Car insurance Make sure you have adequate car insurance – does it include unlimited mileage? Does it have sufficient CDW (collision damage waiver)? What is excess? Is car covered whilst driving off-road (e.g. to get to a remote beach or picnic spot)?
2.Emergency number Ensure you have a contact number for hire company in case car breaks down or is involved in an accident.
International Real Estate: What You Should Know Before Buying AbroadWritten by Phillip Townsend
1. Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with laws and customs of country. Research tax codes, currency restrictions, and qualifications for residency. Having a local attorney is a must. Ask your real estate agent or a fellow expatriate to recommend an attorney. The local American embassy can also provide a list of referrals. If you plan of purchasing property in a place where English is not official language, you should insist on a bilingual lawyer who is able to translate all relevant legal documents.
2. Research. Find out specifics about your new home-to-be: from local political and economic situation to daily cost-of-living. The last thing you want is to sink money into a place that's unstable. Check out U.S. State Department's site, www.state.gov, for up-to-date assessments of virtually every country.
3. Finding a realtor. Once you're ready to look at property, you'll need to find a competent local real estate professional. There are many horror stories of people who have either dealt with either unscrupulous or misinformed parties, costing them thousands of dollars (and in a few cases, their entire investment). Don't be one of those who learn hard way. Some U.S., UK and Australian firms have representatives or prescreened affiliates abroad. In some countries (Mexico, Honduras and Bali, for example), real estate agents are not required to be licensed and con artists abound, waiting to prey on cash-rich foreigners. A good resource for competent real estate professionals is International Real Estate Contacts list, which is available at: www.thegloballife.net. 4. The process. While every place has it own set of rules and nuances, process of buying abroad generally works like this: First, buyer and seller to agree on a price, a security deposit (generally, 10 to 25 percent) will probably be required to take house off market. Your attorney should then receive a copy of title and verify that property is free from any liens or claims against property. They should also advise you of any strange archaic laws, like those in parts of Canada that allow anyone to fish on your land, those in England and France that allow sheep to pass through your property, those in rural Italy that give your neighbors first-refusal rights on any land used for agricultural purposes (which could leave someone else with fruit in vineyard or olive grove on "your" property), or historic construction bans that prevent you from making any external changes to a property (even installing a pool). Also, if you are buying anything in need of restoration (or more than a hundred years old), have a structural survey done.
5. Mortgages? Financing your dream home may not be possible abroad. Your U.S. bank will only lend you money for your foreign abode if you're willing to use other assets for collateral, like your exisiting home or automobile, CDs or brokerage account. Some foreign banks will extend a mortgage once you've opened an account, but most likely, you will have to pay cash. If you decide to open a foreign bank account, you must report its existence to U.S. Treasury Department. The IRS recently warned U.S. expatriates that they risk up to a $10,000 fine or 50 per cent of value of account if they fail to report overseas bank and financial accounts. For details, get IRS Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad online at www.irs.gov/publications/p54/index.html.