Car rentals for house sitters in England

We are from the US and have just started looking again at sits, mainly in England. None of them include the use of a car, but all state that a car is needed. We have rented cars in the past for such house sits, but are finding that the rates are now outrageous! The credit cards we have no longer include rental car insurance so including insurance, it would be $1900 for 3 weeks for the tiniest car. I know the insurance laws in England do not allow non-family to be added temporarily to car insurance, although Scotland and Northern Ireland do. Any suggestions? Or do we just scratch going to England?

Car rental prices are high everywhere due to the pandemic & we face the same issue here in NZ or Aus.


I posted this link in another thread about car rentals but this explains the situation in Aus & also here in NZ


Hi Mary it’s the rental insurance which is so expensive, airport collections also command a high premium.

The obvious is to concentrate of city/town listings where possible, locations which have public transport and facilities within walking distance.

Have you considered if an Uber or similar is less expensive? We usually find a car sits outside the house more than it’s used and with home deliveries for groceries etc it is possible to keep transportation needs to a minimum.

Discussing your situation with owners and asking owners if they can suggest viable options draws their attention to a sitters need’s and they may have alternative solutions.

Good luck with your sit applications in the UK.

Not the ideal solution of course but something to consider?

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Hi Mary
Having worked in the insurance industry for 30 years, this is just to let you know that insurance companies in England do allow non family members to be added for driving.

It normally requires the provision of valid drivers license (maybe international in your case) along with a declaration of previous accidents, convictions or claims. The policyholder would then be charged a premium based on the underwriters assessment of your declaration and an admin fee to process the request and certificate or cover note issued.

Unfortunately its not as easy to add drivers as it is in the USA but then the USA has its own complications from state to state when it comes to liability limits etc!

Hope that helps a bit to clarify.


Thank you, Martin. My information is several years old, from when we had a home owner try to add us, but were refused. We have always offered to pay for being added to insurance, so this may be a place to start again. Having a car is really a necessity unless one is in a large city with good public transportation. How could we get to all those National Trust and English Heritage properties without a car? LOL


Hi Angela, It’s a combination of the two now. We found out years ago to not rent from the airport if possible.

Having a car allows us to explore the area. Being only in a city for a long period is really not of interest, unless is London!

Thanks for your suggestions, though.

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I also suspect that many of us Brits are little more nervous to lend our “manual gearbox vehicles” on our narrow and crowded roads!.

Its a shame that things are not so easy here and I am so grateful for the use of the HO car when I sit in Las Vegas although driving the I15 to McCarren airport and Strip are still a little unnerving for us Brits too!

I agree with having the use of a car of course and we have found owners to be very open to discussing options, many don’t actually think about transportation until it’s raised, we’ve had owners willingly offer their vehicle who would otherwise never have thought about it.

As @Martin_S says it’s not as easy in the UK, I know in Canada anyone over the age of 21, not a permanent resident in the home and with a valid driving licence could use my vehicle, I’ve also used friends and owners vehicles throughout the States and in the UK like you have been added to an owner’s Insurance as a named driver and paid the fee.

Good luck … I’m sure you’ll come up with a solution.

Hi, I find rental prices for automatic gear box cars very expensive in the UK, have you looked at manual stick shift ?
Manual stick shift is the norm in the UK, so most rental companies offer these as standard with automatics being much more expensive.

Also, there are some parts of the country with excellent public transport particularly more urban areas. And often these areas have cars for rent by the day, for day trips such as Zip Car.

Hope this helps

So true! We have driven thousands of miles with a manual gearbox on your narrow roads. The ones I especially “enjoy” are where the road narrows and the sign says “Oncoming cars in the middle of road”. It always seems to be where there is no where to pull off if you do meet someone! Being able to possibly be added to the HO insurance gives me hope, though.

Hi Allison,
We always go for the cheapest, which is a manual. I haven’t checked out Zip Car, but will! Thanks!

Yes, it is possible to add people to UK car insurance policies for a fixed length of time. They will charge a premium (of course !) so maybe suggest or ask potential hosts about this.
Good Luck !

Any chance you can get another credit card just to use for the car rental? I can’t imagine having to pay for the extra insurance, it definitely adds a lot to the cost. We have a World Elite Mastercard which gives us travel insurance, medical insurance, car insurance, and 4 first class lounge passes per year.

We have driven a home owner’s car in the UK. They set it up with their insurance, we just had to send them our driver’s licence documents etc.

As for car rentals, we shop around on a lot of different sites, and usually book a car for about 6 weeks with basic insurance, and credit card coverage for the rest. We always get a small car so it’s good on gas, easy to maneuver in small lanes and villages, and it’s a standard (hubby drives it, not me.) I can give you a list of sites we use to book if you’re interested.


We almost always book cars that offer full cancellation for any reason because we sometimes find a better deal someplace later on. We do sometimes have to pay in advance, but that is refunded if we cancel. If we find a super deal that is non-cancellable, we will sometimes do that so long as we are certain of our dates.

FWIW, we’ve found rentals cars are most expensive in US and Canada, much less so in UK and France. In Italy, you have to buy their insurance whether you have your own coverage or not. A couple of years ago, we got a car for 3 weeks in Ireland for $75 CAD so there are deals to be had. Book ahead as early as you can.

I just took a peek on one site we use, for 3 weeks in the UK this fall. In and out of Gatwick which is where we always fly in. We’d be looking at about $915 for a Fiat 500. $955 for a Corsa. (That’s CAD $ so it’s less in USD). That’s without searching for a good deal.

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Thanks for the advice, Kelownagurl! I spoke with Capital One and switched our card, so now we have coverage! Such a relief. Like you, I look at several sites to find the best deal on a rental car. We always go small, especially in the UK. (My husband drives and I am the navigator, even with a GPS.) Now I can start applying for house sits!


Excellent news Mary! Thank you to @Kelownagurl and others who contributed in the discussion to help Mary solve her car rental issues, there’s some great advice and feedback here which every member considering car rentals will benefit from.

Thanks everyone and good luck with your UK sits Mary!


We have carried out dozens of sittings all over the world and have never rented a car. When we go abroad, and if the listing does not state “car included” we ask nicely, telling them we won’t be travelling too far and they always say Yes.
We live in the UK and have regularly been given the use of their car if we have to travel to walk the dogs. We have also been given the use of their car if they wanted a lift to the airport. Perhaps you could offer that service to them.
Insurance has never been a problem, we have always offered to pay the premium but the HO has always paid that for us.
Good luck


I think I might consider that if we weren’t travelling on our own between sits, although to be honest, I’m always a bit nervous when using someone’s else’s car. It feels a lot easier to be dealing with an rental company instead of a home owner if there was a problem,


We (Canadians) have been added to several UK policies by providing driver’s licence and details. Though many listings do not include a car, we apply anyway and then in the video conversation (or at some point while communicating) ask if a vehicle might be available. We also offer to drive the HOs to and from the airport or train station, which can help them make a decision to leave a vehicle. If they are unsure whether we can be added, we just suggest that they ask their insurance company. They’ve always been told that it was fine. If the pet routine is to be driven to walk locations, we expect that this will be in the HO vehicle, not a rented one.

Good luck!


I find many of the sits that say car needed don’t actually need one. We dont have a car as we prefer to use public transport and we apply to all - only the very remote would ever be an issue.

Some people just don’t like to walk