A retired New Zealand couple almost had their dream holiday to Ireland ruined over an insurance loophole.
The 84-year-old man and his 76-year-old wife had eagerly planned every detail of their 15-week long adventure, but when they set down in the country ready to head off on their road trip their high spirits were immediately crushed when they were informed they were "too old" to qualify for the insurance required to hire a car.
The couple told Belfast Telegraph that they were made to feel they were past their use-by date despite living independently and driving every day in their New Zealand home.
“Our insurance broker in Larne checked with every insurance company going, and they all said the same thing, which was no. They would not let anyone in this country under the age of 20 and over the age of 70 because they say the risk is too great and they have no history of the driving record... So the policy is just 'no, you can't drive'," the couple said.
Ireland isn’t the only country that prevents older travellers from hiring and driving cars. Auto Europe car hire mentions that certain places hold restrictions on drivers over 70 or will ask them to purchase an inclusive insurance rate rather than insurance provided by a credit card.
Luckily for senior travellers, both the United States and Canada have no age restrictions and most of Europe is fairly flexible with age limits as every country has a minimum restriction but many have no maximum.
Croatia and Bulgaria both have the strictest age requirements in Europe with the cut off being 70-years-old. In Croatia, those older than the cut-off age can sometimes be permitted to drive however they will be faced with extra fees to cover insurance costs.
Both Ireland and Greece exclusively provide cars to those under the age of 75-years-old. In some cases, Irish insurance companies will allow those older than 75 hire a car, however they must show proof of good health and a clear driving history for a least the past five years.
Some areas in Portugal refuse to hire out to those who are over 80-years-old, while Hungary stops at 85 and Finland typically limits their hiring to 97-years-old.
The youngest cut-off age seems to be in Morocco where some companies disallow those over 65-years-old to drive. In the case where it's permitted, the driver must pay an extra senior driving fee.
Extra fees or age restrictions are the biggest issues to watch out for when planning to hire a car on your travels. Even if you know you are capable behind a wheel, insurance companies are notorious for standing their ground when it comes to restrictions.
If you are heading somewhere where the rules are fuzzy, it’s always a safe bet to take a copy of your medical history and driving records as proof of your ability to drive.