Front headlight and grill of a car

10 Things to Know Before Renting a Car

February 7, 2017

1) Limit additional drivers. If you are sharing driving duties, you must include the additional drivers names on the rental contract. While this may increase the cost, failure to list all the drivers could result in no insurance coverage in the event of a claim.

2) Review your car insurance policy. Before purchasing the insurance option from the rental car company, check with your insurance agent to understand what coverages are provided under your personal auto policy. If you have comprehensive, collision, and liability coverage there’s a good chance they will extend to cover your rented vehicle. Other important coverages to ask your agent about are loss of use, diminished value and administrative fees. These lesser known coverages are not included in all auto policies and in the event of an accident with a rental car, you could be charged by the rental company for these costs. Many credit card companies now offer some of these additional coverages but it’s strongly recommended that you contact the individual credit card companies to understand the coverage. Coverage provided under a personal auto policy is usually limited to 30 days or less.

3) Understand the geography of their travel policies. If you plan to take the rental vehicle out of state, check for restrictions or additional fees. If you are renting in another country, be aware that many insurance policies do not offer coverage abroad and those that do, may not be recognized by the local government. Most auto policies cover the U.S., Canada and U.S. territories only. It’s recommended when travelling outside of the United States that you purchase rental car insurance locally. For those traveling to Mexico, you need to purchase coverage through the local rental agency.

4) Fill up before returning. Rental companies often require that the car be returned with a full tank of gas or they charge a substantial fee to refill the tank. Fill up at a gas station near the rental outlet.

5) Bring your own accessories. As with gas, rental car companies generally charge a higher rate, often on a daily basis for extras like navigation systems or baby safety car seats. When possible, it’s more cost effective to bring your own.

6) Driving safety background checks. Be aware – if your driving record is not up to par, you could be prohibited from renting a car, even if you have a reservation. Some rental agencies look at your background to check for incidents or reckless driving, accidents or seat belt violations.

7) Inspection is necessary. Take this step seriously. Make sure to inspect the car thoroughly so you will not be held accountable for existing damage such as dings, scratches or other defects. Have a rental employee sign off on any damage you note. Tip: Take photos or videos around and/or inside the vehicle.

8) Avoid costly airport locations. Consider renting the car at a location away from the airport. Being able to rent and return at the terminal may be more convenient, but you can expect to pay for that convenience through additional fees.

9) Return on time. You may be surprised to learn you could be charged extra for returning your rental car early. Bringing the vehicle back ahead of time, or later than agreed upon, could result in additional fees. If you anticipate a change in drop off time, ask the rental agent about the company policy.

10) Communicate with your personal insurance agent. Call your Robertson Ryan team if you have any questions, or to better understand your automobile policy before renting a vehicle. Message Us


Thank you to our partners at Nationwide Insurance for the tips.