When you’re getting ready for a road trip in the summer, you should be sure you and your car are both ready for anything and everything you might encounter on the road. The warmer months are easier to deal with than the winter when it comes to weather hazards – no snow and ice will be getting in your way in most parts of the world! While it’s a pleasure to be driving under sunny skies6, there are a few things you should make sure of before you set out to make sure everything goes well.

Summer Driving Priorities

When you’re getting ready for a long trip in the summer, remember to pack for any kind of weather that may crop up. This means umbrellas and ponchos – a summer thunderstorm can dampen your vacation plans if you’re not ready. You should also carry all the gear you need, like mobile device chargers. If you’re navigating on your smartphone, you can’t take chances with a low battery.

If you’re traveling with kids, you should be certain you have the right size and style of child seats for your little ones. Installing these seats right is an absolute must before you get going. It’s also important to check the AC. If you’re driving with kids or elderly passengers, it’s especially essential to get the climate control right. Checking your tires is another major priority: Tires should be fresh rather than worn down, and inflated to the right pressure.

Rent a Car and Be Sure

One way to help your summer road trip go right is to rent a car. Advantage’s fleets of nearly new vehicles are available in every shape and size to accommodate your trip. Wherever you’re going, a well-equipped rental car will get you there in style this summer.

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Whenever you’re landing in a new city for a business trip or vacation, it pays to have a rental car ready to go. If you want to take a road trip but either don’t own a car or don’t think your ride can handle the journey, renting is a top option. When your car breaks down, a rental can save your day, week or month.

There are many reasons to rent a car, but the process itself is always just about the same. Getting familiar with the basics before you want – or need – to get a rental car can help you get through the steps easily and smoothly, with no hassle.

The Essentials

Do you have to be 25 to rent a car? This is an oft-repeated question, and the answer will differ by state and rental provider. As USA Today noted, all licensed drivers aged 18 and older can rent cars in New York and Michigan. In other states, the rental agencies set the ages they will and won’t rent to. Drivers under the age of 25 may be subject to extra costs and charges when they’re allowed to rent. With that said, 25 is hardly the strict cut-off it is sometimes presented as.

Another age-related question is the maximum age range for rentals – some counties limit older drivers from renting cars, so USA Today recommends checking with your rental organization if you’re 70 or over to make sure you’re in line with the local law.

What about the fuel cost? When it comes to gassing your car up, you’ll likely have options based on which provider you’re renting from. In some models, you can pay a flat rate and return the car with as much or as little gas as you have left, and fueling up on the road is at your discretion. In other versions, it’s part of your agreement to fill up the tank before returning the car.

Where are you going to drop the car off? When you’re dealing with a chain of rental services, you can often bring the car to a different location, a perfect option for a one-way road trip. There are typically fees associated with this option, though.

Other options you may encounter include toll payment and optional equipment. Your rental agency may offer a variety of services when it comes to how you pay tolls on the road, while optional equipment can range from car seats to ski racks and winter tires – check with your rental provider to see what’s available.

Overseas Considerations

When you’re renting outside of your home country, there are a few extra facts to check on beforehand. Does your insurance cover overseas rentals? Are you familiar with the signage and the rules of the road where you’re going? Are the age rental rules more or less strict in your destination? You may also need a $20 license called an International Driving Permit, though this has fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years. It’s something to check on before you take off.

Charges and payment options

The rules and regulations around car rentals – and the fees related to renting – tend to differ from state to state. One such charge may come if you don’t want to be the only driver on a trip. Consumer Affairs explained that having an additional driver for your rented car is allowed if those individuals are listed as possible drivers on the rental agreement, but there can be small charges for each extra person. Depending on the state, your spouse may be able to drive the car with no extra paperwork, as long as he or she is a licensed driver who is 18 or older.

There are four kinds of insurance and liability coverage that typically come with car rentals including collision damage, liability protection, personal accident insurance and personal effects coverage. These are all optional, and they act as additional and supplemental coverage options. Your auto insurance provides some level of coverage. Consumer Affairs noted you can check with your insurance provider and credit card provider before you begin a journey to see which kinds of liability you are protected against without purchasing additional insurance.

Providers’ bonuses

If you need to rent cars frequently, for instance if your work brings you to new cities every few weeks or months, it can pay to investigate repeat-customer discounts and loyalty programs. These systems can give you all sorts of advantageous bonuses, such as vehicle class upgrades or free rental days, just for sticking with one business over time. When you find a rental partner you like and trust, sticking with that car rental company may prove valuable.

In today’s tech-saturated world, it’s likely you’ll get info about your rental car through your phone. Some rental partners make this process easy by offering specialized mobile apps like the Advantage Rent A Car mobile app. When you’re using an app to facilitate your rental, you get quick and accurate information about rental vehicle options and your reservation. This makes the whole rental process quicker and easier than before.

Now that you know what to expect, rent with confidence!

Advantage, with locations and affiliates around the world, can be your go-to partner for international car rental.

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The recent success of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft has begun a trend among tech companies – these businesses are eager to break into new fields, and become the Uber of various industries. Airbnb, for instance, has become a household name by acting as the Uber of lodgings. It’s no surprise, then, that startups have debuted car-sharing services designed to offer peer-to-peer rental experiences.

Alternative car rental questions

The appearance of these new “sharing economy” players raises serious questions. After all, there are long-standing rules, regulations and norms surrounding car rentals. The reality of disruptive services may fall short of their promises. It’s worth putting car-sharing apps side by side with the offerings of established rental companies to determine the differences between these two models.

Source of vehicles

Renting a car from a traditional service means receiving a vehicle from an actively maintained fleet. Car-sharing services let individuals rent out their vehicles and therefore have less control over which cars are available at a given location. This raises a few questions – for instance, whether the shared vehicles are part of an active recall. The Washington Post noted that one vehicle-sharing app is targeted in Maryland by a new bill that would make it illegal for the app to list cars for rental if they are under recall – however, the car-sharing service does not know whether it is offering recalled cars, as it does not have access to members’ vehicle identification numbers.

Access to airports

Airports are some of the top locations to pick up rental cars, and rental companies offer locations at or near major airports due to deals they have struck with airports’ operators. Car sharing services have attempted to go around these exclusivity agreements using an argument they have applied to other issues: Since they don’t own the cars they offer, they claim not to actually be rental businesses. This has led to legal challenges, and the future of the issue is uncertain.

Status of insurance

While standard auto insurance covers a driver handling a rental vehicle, how do the laws apply to cars that are rented from services that claim not to actually be rental organizations? This question remains unsettled, and has been a cause of legal issues for car-sharing apps, especially in New York. One of the leading sharing providers was forced to leave New York state in 2013 due to an incompatibility with the state’s insurance laws. App-based rentals are still available elsewhere, but the experimental nature of their business model makes them an insurance question mark.

The convenience factor

The difference between car-sharing and rental may come down to something very simple: convenience. While a rental organization offers well-stocked lots of cars in major cities around the world, a sharing app’s economy is dependent on individual owners who choose to rent out their vehicles. This model may deliver a car when and where a user needs it, but the certainty that comes from renting from a professionally maintained fleet isn’t there.

Rewards and business programs

Customers who have an existing relationship with a rental company may be eligible for loyalty perks and rewards programs. These may be issued to individuals or granted to companies for business trip usage, but their purpose is largely the same: To give thanks for repeat business. Rental customers who have amassed perks over time with established rental providers may want to keep adding to their histories by remaining with the same companies.

International partnerships

Car-sharing companies are all relatively new, and may not have established relationships with international rental providers. Working with a legacy rental company means working within a network of organizations that reach many countries and territories around the world, which is helpful for planning out international business trips or globe-spanning vacations.

Fees and charges

When drivers rent a car, they expect a fairly regular set of credit card charges – fee structures with alternative and start-up providers may differ, however. Paying for extras or facing additional costs assessed by vehicles owners may add an unexpected wrinkle to a trip using one of these services.

Rental companies and individual owners

One of the major objectives of any trip, whether the goal is to meet business contacts or simply discover a new locale, is to make the transactions along the way as quick and easy as possible. While a wave of tech companies have made some fields more convenient, in complex matters such as auto rental, they may be having the opposite effect in the short term.

Working with an established rental company means picking up a new car from a fleet of professionally owned vehicles at a convenient location. Tech companies attempting to become the Uber of car rental offer an alternative to this model, but with added complications regarding vehicle selection, insurance status and more. Drivers that have established relationships with favorite rental companies may find it easier to continue with these companies rather than renting individual car owners’ vehicles.

 

Getting auto insurance is an important consideration, limiting the financial impact of any collision that may occur while you’re on the road. But what happens when it’s time to rent a car? Do you need to buy more insurance just for the rental, or are you covered? What is the purpose of the additional coverage being sold at the rental counter and is it optional or required? Settling these questions once and for all can give you peace of mind before your next jet-setting business trip or exciting road trip vacation.

Rental insurance: Required?

Whenever you rent a car in the U.S. – in any state – the additional coverage products sold at the desk are optional. You don’t need to purchase extra insurance to acquire a rental car. These rules aren’t necessarily the same overseas, as every country has its own set of driving laws. Be sure to check with your rental partner when renting a car outside of the U.S.

In many cases, your auto insurance policy will take effect, even when you’re driving a rental car. If you’re not sure whether you’re covered, check with your car insurance provider. Your coverage may extend to rental vehicles, leaving you well prepared to take the wheel.

Optional coverage options

There are typically a few coverage products available at the rental counter. These are optional, but they can provide an extra layer of protection, especially if you don’t have auto insurance that will work during your rental.

Collision coverage is designed to pay for any damage that occurs to the rented car in the case of an accident.

Liability coverage helps with costs that come from damaging another motorists vehicle or causing personal harm in a collision.

Once you’ve checked with your insurer and decided whether optional coverage is right for you, it’s time to hop into your new rental car and enjoy your trip!