Renting a car is one of our best bets when you think about the hassle-free travel experience. In the interest of the company- client transparency and customer satisfaction, renting a car have been made easy overtime, or so you think.
With car rental companies' presence on digital media and app stores, tactics like "Call now for instant booking" or "Simple one-click reservation" or "book now, pay later" have got us to believe the process would be transparent and straightforward- but somehow it's anything but so.
Questions like Do I need to buy the car rental company's insurance package? Who's paying the refuel charges? What if I am accused of damaging the car? How to go about car inspection? I need to drive across borders, can I do it? Do I need to buy all the extra services/gadgets they offer at the rental counter? Pop up in our heads every time you think about renting a car. The process is quite nerve-wracking.
There are certain do's and don'ts when renting a car. We have listed down 9 of them for you.
1. Prepaying for gas
By prepaying for gas beforehand, we think we are saving ourselves some valuable time. The idea is enticing because you may be renting out a car for a fun, stop-free road-trip or a wedding. Unless you are absolutely sure the tank would be empty upon returning, don't prepay for gas. Instead, suggest to keep count of mileage and pay at the end, or deduct the gas charges so you could fuel up on your own.
2. Failing to check for places to refuel
in continuation of #1, if you have decided to pay for gas yourself, the chances are the tank may be close to empty. So you might need to fill up as soon as possible. The best time to find a place to refuel your ride is immediately after pick-up. If you are somewhere new, familiarize yourself with the local, or the most easily accessible or cheapest gas stations as you go. Figure this when you are not pressed for time. You could avoid major delays if you have a flight to catch or a wedding to go to.
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3. Purchasing insurance, #1:
Your own auto insurance covers you.
In case you are offered car insurance at the time of booking, it's recommended that you check with your insurer whether or not your rental car would be covered before turning it down. Because auto insurance policies vary greatly. If you have purchased a basic car insurance plan, chances are, it may not include coverage for rentals, whereas if you have subscribed for "full coverage", it most certainly would.
The basic insurance policy implies that the coverage you get for your main vehicle extends to the rental car because the rental is considered a substitute. So if you have an all-inclusive coverage on your own car, it would be applicable on your rental vehicle just as well.
Most plans would cover you even if the rented car is valued more than that of your own, so there isn't a worrying moment about wanting to rent a better car or get an upgrade.
Note that a car accident in a rental vehicle would likely raise your rates if you have to make a claim on your own insurance policy.
4. Purchasing insurance, reason #2: Your credit card covers everything else
Anything your insurance company does not cover would most likely be covered by your credit card. In some cases, the credit card covers just as much or more than your own auto insurance; in others, it is intended to be secondary/ back up plan to help cover should anything go wrong.
Of course, making your car rental payment through a qualifying credit card does not give you any protection.
5. Ignoring one possible red flag: “loss of use” insurance.
When a rental car is in an accident or faces some other damage, “loss of use” charges apply to cover the likely revenue lost when the vehicle is off the road for repairs. This is typically charged in terms of a day’s rental for that unit, and most insurance companies do not cover these charges.
7. Failing to check for a reward program or other discounts.
Many membership programs establish alliances with car rental companies and other such businesses as a member incentive. These include travel companies, frequent flier programs, sports programs, hobby-focused groups or even restaurants. Such discount is typically announced on websites and apps and you would be notified through notifications, pop-ups or emails. If you are a long time member of a car rental company, take a look before pinning down a rental car and you could find a great deal.
8. Inspecting hastily upon pickup
Upon picking up your rental car, make sure to check it inside and out. This inspection is necessary so you could find anything that could be deemed as damage when you drive away with it. Scratches, loose parts, torn seat covers, working windows, windshields, indicator handles, mirrors and anything else that you could think of.
Keep a sharp eye for details big and small. The wise thing to do is to take a walk around the car and take as many photos as possible, or shooting a video where you can voluntarily shake the bumper and kick the tire to see if anything is wrong. It's possible that you might find something that the company has not previously noticed so you couldn't be held responsible later on.
9. Leaving final inspection to chance.
Returning rental cars is a lot different than checking out of a hotel. You can't just drop your keys, thank the receptionist and leave. Dropping off the car unattended by any agent is just unsettling. You should be content about handing over the car to someone from the company so that they can check it and confirm nothing is off. Customer-Company disputes over damage claims are the most recent epidemic. If no agent is present at drop off, the dispute later becomes your word against theirs.
Again, your best win here is to take photos or a video of the car.