Five Things To Remember When Renting A Car

by Kerwin McKenzie on March 3, 2017

I get a few car rental questions form time to time and recently saw a discussion about renting cars internationally so I wanted to give some guidelines about renting a car when you travel. Here are five things to remember:



1. Additional Drivers – Don’t try to skimp here, if you require more than one person to drive the car, add them to the contract. Yes, it may cost you more, but then you won’t have to worry who is driving in case of an accident.



2. Car Rental Insurance – This is uber important. Check your own car insurance and see if you are covered if you rent a car. Note that you may be covered in your local country, but not for rentals abroad.  Also, check your credit card to see if you are covered. It may be necessary to buy the local insurance they are selling; usually $10-$20 or so a day. You are buying peace of mind. Read the documentation to ensure you are covered all the way.



And sometimes even when you do pay for the local insurance there are issues. I rented a car in Jamaica once, paid the local insurance of course and sadly was in a wreck. Wet road road surface, going up a hill lost control when I hit the brakes and hit an oncoming car head on. The car was quite dented. No one one either side were hurt thankfully. I called the car company and told them what happened. They advised me to bring the car back and they will give me another. So I returned the car to the airport and then they refused to give me another car, which was their end of the bargain. We argued about it, but still they refused. So I asked for a ride to my hotel and a ride back to the airport and still they said no. I insisted and reminded them of their obligation and eventually they said yes. So when I returned to the U.S. I called American Express told them what happened and they gave me a full refund. Just remember that a consumer who has done the right thing, you are in control. Just don’t lose your cool.


One other thing to note for international is that some places do not have automatic cars available or charge extra for it. So check that before you go. And also, if they drive on the other side of the road than you are accustomed to, be extra careful and do a bit of a test drive in the parking lot first before you get on the roads.



3. Drivers License – Ensure that your license is up to date and if going international, ensure that your license is valid for driving in that country. You can check with the car rental company or the tourist bureau for details.



4. Loyalty – Rent from a company you know and trust. Don’t always rent from the cheapest place as there is always a catch. I’ll give you an example. I was renting a car in Las Vegas and one company was the cheapest. So I decided to try them after not using them for a long time. At the counter, my $17.99/day car went up to nearly $100 and the agent tried to sell me everything under the sun. I told her many of the things she was selling me were already covered, but she refused to listen. So I walked away. I almost always rent with Avis and Hertz as I’m at the top of their loyalty programs and I have no issues at all. Plus they have offsite places that are usually convenient since I don’t always rent from an airport. Plus they have my car ready and waiting when I arrive, most times anyways.



5. Travel Insurance – You should always get this when you travel regardless of you mode of transportation. Again, its peace of mind. Also, if you have to be medivaced home, you don’t worry about it. I use World Nomads but there are others out there you can check out.



Can you think of anything additional to add? Please leave a comment below.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Charles Stitz March 3, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Kerwin check out Kemwel Rental Cars out of Portland, Maine. I’ve used them for over 25 years. They’re cheap and reliable. They use Avis, National, Thrifty, and Eurocars. You’ll appreciate them as I have.1-800-678-0678 is their number.


avatar Suza Barr March 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Ask the  rental company how they deal with tolls if you use a toll road where there is no booth so you can’t pay as you go. In Florida, Hertz added a $25 charge to the toll! If you do end up on a toll road, go to that state’s site within 24 hours to pay, which can save you the penalty.


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