Necessities When Renting A Car
Renting a car may or may not be something that you do often in your life, but whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, you should do your homework before signing the paperwork. Thankfully, our friends at Nationwide Insurance recently shared some helpful tips on what to look for before picking out that temp car and signing on the dotted line.
Be stingy concerning additional drivers
When you rent a car, you have to consider scenarios where someone else may be behind the wheel of the car. During old childhood trips to the beach — we had to drive around 1,000 miles to get there — my parents would often prefer rental cars to putting the wear and tear on their own. Generally, both Mom and Dad would be signed up as drivers, but as my brothers and I got older, we made the cut as well. Depending on the situation, you may need to sign up with additional drivers, but Nationwide recommends you don’t: “If you share driving duties, you may have to include additional names on the rental contract, which could increase the cost,” the company explains. “Age is also a factor, as drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 are more expensive. Your best bet is to try to keep the number of drivers to a minimum to avoid supplementary fees and stress.”
Review your standard auto insurance policy
Every time I’ve walked in to rent a car, I’ve always been bombarded with the sales pitch telling me I need to buy the rental car agency’s policy. I always say no because my regular insurance policy protects me. However, that may not always be the case. As Nationwide notes: “While rental reimbursement insurance covers the actual cost of a rental car, it does not protect the rented vehicle in the event of an accident. Before accepting the insurance option offered to you by the rental agent, check with your agent to see if your personal car insurance policy includes collision and comprehensive coverage. If you already have this coverage on your regular vehicle, there’s a good chance it will transfer to a rental car so be sure to check your policy.”
Wise up on travel policies
When it comes to rental cars, destination also plays an important part in the coverage rules surrounding your operation of the motor vehicle. If you’re taking your rental car out of state, Nationwide notes, you’ll want to check for restrictions or additional fees. “Renting in another country? Know that many insurance policies don’t offer coverage abroad,” the company states.
Fill up before returning
One area of hidden costs that many car renters aren’t prepared for is the fill-up at the end of the contract. Most rental companies charge a substantial fee to refill the tank if you don’t bring it back on F. According to Nationwide, a way around this is to fill it up at a gas station close to the rental outlet.
To avoid additional fees, Nationwide recommends bringing your own accessories (think: navigation systems, as there are often extra charges). You should also be aware that a poor driving record could block your ability to rent a car and that it’s important to follow your contract to the letter, making sure to return the car on time to avoid hidden fees.
Probably the best thing you can do to protect yourself when renting a car is to give it a thorough inspection before driving it off the lot and taking temporary ownership. “You don’t want to be held accountable for existing damage,” Nationwide notes. “Also, have an employee sign off on any ding, scratch or dent you spot. Most rental companies require you to sign an inspection form, but many people are in a hurry and rush through the process. Take this step seriously.”
While rental cars can be very convenient, they’re not without hidden costs and fees that can send your final bill soaring. Before you take this step, make sure you inform them of all drivers, inspect the car thoroughly, and heed all of the advice listed above. Best of luck, and drive safely!