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Whether you’re heading off on vacation, a business trip, or another occasion, renting a car provides convenience and flexibility. It allows you to travel on your schedule and at your own pace. However, navigating the world of car rentals requires careful consideration to ensure you’re making savvy financial decisions.

From insurance options to rental agreements, understanding key factors can help you save money and create a more enjoyable experience. In this article, we’ll review common questions people have when renting cars, including whether you should opt for rental insurance.

1. Assess Your Driving Needs

Before you begin your rental car search, it’s wise to take a few minutes to evaluate what kind of vehicle will work best for you. Your needs will typically vary depending on why you’re renting a car. Use the following list to get started:

  • How many passengers will be with you?
  • Will you need ample space for luggage?
  • How far will you be traveling?
  • How long will you be using the rental?
  • Will you need a vehicle with excellent gas mileage?
  • What will the driving conditions be like?

These types of questions will help you narrow down the kind of vehicle you’ll need – and potentially save money. For example, if you’re traveling for work, you might be able to get by with a smaller rental versus a more expensive SUV.

2. Shop Around & Compare Prices

When it comes to renting cars, the options are plentiful. Take your time and research several rental car companies before making your decision. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure the type of vehicle you need is available. Then, you’ll want to evaluate pricing.

Pricing can be a little tricky because not all car rental agencies price the same way. For example, some may only charge by the mile, while others have a daily fee plus mileage. You’ll also want to consider any discounts or promotions available.

3. Review the Rental Agreement

No one enjoys reading through a bunch of fine print. However, it’s vital that you comprehend the rental agreement before signing on the dotted line. When in doubt, ask questions. You’ll want to ensure you understand mileage limits, fuel policies, and any additional fees. For example, some rental companies will charge a fee for one-way trips (when you drive a vehicle to a destination and leave it there versus returning it to where you rented it).

4. Determine Whether You Need Car Rental Insurance

The most popular question people have when renting cars is whether they need extra rental insurance. No one wants to be liable for potential damages or the theft of a rental. Nor do they want to purchase costly protection that’s unnecessary.

If you do not currently have an auto insurance policy, the rental company will require you to purchase their insurance or use a plan through a third party. However, additional coverage is not typically needed if you already have comprehensive auto insurance.

While each rental company will have their own protection plans, they usually cover the following items:

Collision Damage Waiver

This waiver will protect you from financial responsibility if the rental car is damaged or stolen. If your auto insurance policy has comprehensive or collision coverage, you shouldn’t need to purchase this duplicate protection.

Supplemental Liability Coverage

This coverage provides additional liability protection beyond the minimum required by law. You may not need this coverage if your personal auto insurance policy already covers liability. However, you might consider it if your current policy provides limited protection.

Personal Accident Insurance

This covers medical expenses for you (and your passengers) in case of an accident. Again, most comprehensive auto insurance policies provide this protection. In addition, most health insurance plans cover injuries from car accidents.

Personal Effects Coverage

This protection covers theft of your personal items from the rental car. While your auto insurance policy will not cover belongings, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance typically does. Review your current homeowner’s or renter’s policies to see if this protection is necessary. The deductibles for homeowner’s insurance can often be high, so this protection could provide peace of mind on your trip.

The best strategy to determine whether you need extra coverage is to contact your auto insurance provider. They will review your current policy and make any recommendations for your upcoming rental.

5. Electric Vehicle Considerations

It’s becoming commonplace for rental agencies to offer electric vehicles as rentals. This sparks interest in people who are interested in trying out an EV before buying one. If you plan to rent an EV, make sure it matches your needs in a rental car. For example, if you’re planning to drive cross-country, research charging locations before you head out. You’ll also want to contact your auto insurance company to determine if any additional insurance protection is necessary.

We’re Here to Help!

Renting a car is an excellent way to travel at your own pace. Spend time assessing your needs and comparing vehicle options and prices. Then, contact your auto insurance company to help you make informed decisions about extra coverage.

If you’re planning a vacation and would like to use a low-rate personal loan to cover costs, including renting a car, we’re happy to help. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call 1-800-531-8456 to speak with a team member today.

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Each individual’s financial situation is unique. We encourage you to contact United Texas Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.

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