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How To Protect Yourself When Renting A Car

Discussion in 'Car rentals' started by Neil, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    It seems a car rental is no longer just a simple process of booking the car, picking it up, driving and dropping it off. Consumers need to protect themselves so that they aren’t charged for damages months down the road. Here are some tips to remember when renting a car.

    - Check pricing on comparison sites, then book directly with the car rental company. Prices are usually the same and you don’t have a middle-man to deal with if there is a problem.

    - Make sure that the car rental office is open during the times you will be picking up and dropping off the car. Returning the car to a closed office and leaving the keys in a lock box doesn’t allow you to be present when the car is inspected for damages.

    - When picking up the car, take pictures or video of the entire car, including the license plate number. Point out every ding to a rental employee and ask to have them marked on your paperwork. Do the same when you drop it off, including a picture of the odometer at drop off and the fuel gauge. You’ll have picture proof that the car was in the same condition you picked it up in if you receive an email three months later saying your credit card is being charged for damages.

    - NEVER book a non-refundable, pre-paid car rate. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you are stuck with that pre-paid car and in most cases won’t get a refund.

    - Check the terms of your car rental carefully online before you book. We once needed a car to travel from our home in New York to a conference in Boston. When we arrived to pick up the car, which we booked with unlimited miles, we learned that if the car were taken out of the bordering states, the mileage wasn’t unlimited- we were given 150 free miles a day and would be charged for anything over that. Had we clicked the “See details” line, we would have seen that and booked with a different company without restrictions.

    - Do not let the rental clerk rush you to sign and initial forms without reading them. You may say you don't want insurance but there are unscrupulous rental clerks (especially in some foreign countries) who may get you to initial add ons you don't want. Read everything you are signing or initialing so there are no surprises later.

    - When you are renting a car in the U.S., check with your own car insurance company to see if it covers rental cars. If it does, bring a copy of your insurance card. It may not be necessary to purchase the expensive insurance the rental companies charge. Some credit cards offer coverage as well, but it may not include liability insurance and the rental office will often try to sell you that at their higher premiums.

    - When renting a car abroad you will need to determine insurance requirements in each country. Some travel insurance companies and travel agents have policies available to cover in other countries. Some countries, such as Ireland, require you to buy their insurance when you pick up the car. Do your research so you know what your options are or you may have a large deposit held on your credit card for potential damages that may cause declinations at hotels or when shopping. Some companies will not rent at all without having proof of insurance.
    - Contact the credit card company you are booking your car with and ask if they offer rental insurance. They may have requirements to cover you in the event of an accident, such as ensuring you decline insurance offered by the car rental company. Check before you leave so you'll know your rights when you get to the counter.
    - Never use a debit card when renting. As with hotels, the rental companies may put a hold on your card that may not drop off by the time you return the car. In addition, if you do not opt for insurance, many companies put a very large hold, some up to $5,000 on your card for possible damages.

    - If you notice something isn't right with the car when you begin driving, or notice there are scratches or dings on the car, turn around and go back to the desk. Once you drive off property, you will be held responsible for those issues and may be charged for damage you never made.j

    - If you can pick up a car somewhere other than the airport, you’ll save money. There are many airport taxes that are added on to your rental price that aren't applicable to off premises rentals.

    - If you fill the tank before dropping it back off, get a receipt for the gas and save it. If you get a claim later on that you didn't fill the tank, you have proof of how much gas you put in the tank.
     
    #1
    Al43, kenish, AAGK and 2 others like this.
  2. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    A most excellent summary, Promal. We will all have to be aware of the good stuff we've posted in the past until all our forum information comes back on line.

    I'm thinking that I'll copy and paste the good stuff like this and Laurie's vacation rental info so that it's available ... with the internet there's no such thing as 'all fixed now' ... it's just a matter of time before the next disaster.
     
    #2
  3. Grant Ritchie

    Grant Ritchie Dependable adequacy :-)

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    I just noticed something else; all of the forums created in the last five months have disappeared, lock, stock & content. :(
     
    #3
    LaurieB likes this.
  4. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    OHYEAH! It wouldn't be half as much fun for the hackers unless they could make us scrounge around for weeks to put our stuff back up. Redundancy is not a bad word!
     
    #4
  5. Gigi77

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    I am quoting this from an Avis website & would appreciate advice concerning how to insure myself without purchasing the rental company's insurance.
    This happened to my brother years ago when the rental car was hit while he wasn't in the car
    & then they tried to charge him for several weeks on not being able to rent the vehicle while it was being repaired. He's an attorney so he was able to resolve it.

    "Why am I being charged for Loss of Use and the Administrative Fee?
    Loss of Use - as a renter, you are contractually liable for the loss of the specific vehicle rented not our entire fleet per the terms and conditions of the rental contract. When our car is unavailable to be rented, we are entitled to be compensated for such loss. Administrative Fee - Avis is not an insurance company. We are self-insured and the expense of processing our claims is passed on only to the responsible parties involved. We have a legal entitlement to be brought back to pre-accident condition which includes the indirect damage of expenses related to administering a claim."
     
    #5
  6. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Gigi, I think this is standard contract language and doesn't mean they will try to collect nor does it mean you can't sue them either. With all the complaints we have helped with here, if there have been two who were charged a loss of use fee, it's a lot.

    Since your brother is an attorney, he would probably be the best one who could advise you on what to do if you find yourself in this predicament. We also have two attorneys who comments here and they have both offered letters to consumers who may have run into this that have gotten the claims totally dropped.
     
    #6
  7. AAGK

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    This may or may not be helpful for the above list. Some credit cards offer comprehensive rental car insurance at no additional cost and some do not so a customer should select his credit card with care and review that policy as well. (Certain credit card insurance coverage includes language restricting its use when an additional liability policy is purchased with the rental company. )
     
    #7
  8. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    That is a good point and I just added it to the facts. Thanks for reminding me about it.
     
    #8
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  9. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Promal, if you send me this in an email, I'll put it in my little archive collection. Sometimes I and cut and paste right from the forum, sometimes not. We don't want to lose these words of wisdom!
     
    #9
  10. kenish

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Loss of use can be very severe in popular Alaska cruise ports. For example there are no repair shops (or even roads) out of Sitka or Juneau. Damaged cars have to be shipped by barge to Anchorage or Seattle, parts ordered, repairs made, then sent back. That can take 3-5 weeks, and is made worse since car rental season is only 5 months and the agency has to make 12 months of revenue in that time. Various cruise boards and our tour guide in Skagway have mentioned the nasty but legit charges after bending a rental car.

    I'm no sympathizer with rental car companies but there's specific situations where it's worth a few $$ to be over-insured.
     
    #10
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
    jsn55 and Neil like this.
  11. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    B
    Not to worry, I've already archived it just in case, lol
     
    #11
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  12. jsn55

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    This is SO obvious once you bring it up, Kenish, but I would have never thought to be extra careful in Alaska.
     
    #12
  13. travellerdan

    travellerdan Guest

    I am always a little surprised that advocates are so negative about taking the CDW. While it is expensive and perhaps even a rip-off, too little attention is paid to the time, energy, stress, and ultimate cost that might be avoided by simply opting for CDW. It remains, of course, an individual decision. A downside that also needs mentioning is that all forms of insurance may not cover if the rental agreement is violated, such as the car being damaged while driven by an unauthorized driver or damaged while driving on unpaved roads, to name two exceptions.
     
    #13
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  14. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Dan, I am an advocate and recommend taking the insurance when renting outside the U.S. I do it because my wife would drive me nuts over my driving if she had to worry about a ding on a car. To me it's worth every penny.
     
    #14
  15. M. J. Schmiedeler

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    Capital One Venture Card includes a CDW waiver when you use their card for the rental, also Loss of Use is included. I do not know about liability.
     
    #15
  16. JVillegirl541

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    Be very careful and do not depend on a blanket statement like this. There are restrictions that are based on International rental location. You need to verify that the country you are planning on driving in would be covered and some International locations will not accept this coverage with a full copy of your policy (long form) and proof you are currently covered.

    Please double check and read the rental agency rules carefully.
     
    #16
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  17. JVillegirl541

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    If you are renting s lovely newer car and the coverage you have on your car at home is for an old car then you coverage ever at Full Coverage is not going to be sufficient to cover the rental.
    Out of country is absolutely a completely different kettle of fish ;)
     
    #17
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  18. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Liability is usually not included and the cost for liability is often so much you are better off just buying the full insurance from the car rental company.
     
    #18
  19. M. J. Schmiedeler

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    Perhaps I was unclear in my first post regarding the capital one venture card...I did not clarify that I was referring to renting a car in the USA and not in another country.
     
    #19
  20. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    If you rent in the U.S., check with your car insurance company because many policies cover you if you rent a car and you may not need insurance (unless you do not have collision on your policy)

    If you are relying on a credit card policy you still need to make sure it offers liability coverage. Most do not and you can get into trouble if you don't have liability.
     
    #20

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