Before you sign the contract and drive away with your rental car, you need to make sure you really know what you have agreed to by signing that agreement. If something were to go wrong while you had the rental car, who would be responsible? How much are you really going to be charged when you return it? What happens if the car gets scratched while you are driving it? You need to consider each of these questions before signing a rental car agreement.
Rental Cars and Insurance
One of the first things you will be asked when you head to the check out counter to pick up your rental car keys is whether or not you want to purchase the rental agency’s insurance policy. Do not say no without thinking first. If something were to happen to your rental car, would you be responsible for the damages? Without insurance, you would.
However, this does not mean that you need the rental car company’s insurance policy. Do you have car insurance on your own vehicle? If so, find out what your current car insurance company covers on rental cars. You may have full coverage on rental cars with your current insurance provider.
Are you paying via credit card? If so, check with your credit card company. Many of them automatically put rental car insurance on the cars that are rented using their cards.
If you do not have insurance with either of these sources, then you need to consider buying it. Also, keep in mind that you will not only pay for the damages to the rental car if you are in an accident. You will also have to pay for the lost time on that car. If it takes three days to fix the car, you will pay for three days of rental on that car, since the rental car company cannot make money during that time frame.
Keep in mind that the damage to a rental car does not have to occur in an accident. If the car is scratched, you could be charged. Be sure to inspect the car thoroughly before driving it off of the rental car lot. Have any damages that you notice noted on your contract.
Hidden Fees and Charges
You may think that you know how much the rental car will cost when all is said and done, but you likely will be surprised when you get your final bill due to additional fees and charges. Of course, you will have to pay taxes on your rental car. Be sure you plan for this when budgeting for a rental car.
You may also be charged for gas. Some rental car companies charge a flat fee for gas and instruct their renters to return the car close to empty. Others will not charge the gas fee if the car is returned full. If you can fill the car up yourself, do so, because the rate the rental car company is going to charge for gas will be more than the gas station down the street.
If a driver on the contract is under 25 years old, expect to pay an additional fee, if the rental car company will even allow this driver to drive the car. Also, adding additional drivers to the agreement will cost extra. Finally, be sure to inquire about late fees, and turn the car in on time unless you absolutely cannot do so.
Renting a car seems like it should be an easy task, but there are many considerations that you need to make before signing the contract. Make sure that you know exactly what you are agreeing to do, and follow through with your end of the contract. This will protect you from unexpected and expensive fees when you return the car.