Summer is here and road tripping season is underway. From cross country treks to staycations to fly and rent adventures, tis the season to pack everything in the trunk and hit the open road.
Where is the cheapest place for renting a car? What do you need to know about insurance when renting a car? That and 9 other questions answered right here!
We are headed to PEI this summer for a family reunion. I was warned by some friends that trying to rent a car in the Maritimes needs a lot of planning. The area is popular, the inventory light, and if you’re not on the ball early, you’re going to be out of luck. (Tip 1: Rent your car early!)
One of the first things people will tell you about car rentals is to rent away from the airport. Airport pick up and drop off is almost always more expensive. We looked at a downtown Charlottetown location and were closed at noon on the Saturday we arrived. I plugged all my dates and requests into the usual search engines, and then I asked my friends on Facebook who widely recommended: Costco.
Yes, you can rent a car at Costco. Our car rental in busy PEI in the height of the summer season came out way cheaper than everyone on the list! It works like a travel agent sort of thing, Costco negotiates a discount for you with traditional car rental companies and you get to choose who you want to use. Who knew? (Tip 2: Look up rates at Costco!)
Another reason to rent a car for your summer road trip is to avoid putting the big mileage on your own personal vehicle. If you’re planning a long trek of a few thousand kilometres, maybe you want to upsize to a newer, bigger vehicle to pack all your gear. You get to test drive a new ride while eliminating wear and tear on your own vehicle. (Tip 3: Try something new!)
If you’re staying domestically, you can use your phone as a GPS device (if you car doesn’t have on board Nav) and have your passenger help navigate your back roads. If you’re going internationally, or you don’t have a large data plan, you can download your routes in advance.
Google Maps lets you download large sections of maps to use when you’re offline (here’s how to do it). I used this feature when we went to Australia. I could track our travels when we were using local transit, so I knew when we were close to our hotel, or we wanted to wander around the CBD. (Tip 4: Know the area before you go!)
When you go to pick up your car at your destination, you’ll be handed that big, long car rental contract and the topic of insurance will come up. I always scratch my head on this one. Does my home policy cover me? Will my credit card cover me? Should I just wing it because nothing will happen? With Esurance, you won’t be wondering and flying blind, you can check what kind coverage you have online, instantly, from anywhere.
Here’s what you need to know about car insurance when you are renting a car (Tips 5 – 10):
- The rental car insurance covers you for liability, but rental companies will require you to take on responsibility for any damage to the vehicle, whether it is your fault or not.
- You can buy that coverage from the rental company, but you might have coverage on your own policy already – It is a special added coverage, called damage to rental vehicles, and it’s a good idea to check if you have it – or can add it – before you go on your trip. If so, it will, extend the physical damage coverage from your policy to the rental car.
- If you are renting a commercial vehicle, or a large RV – your own policy even with the rental car coverage won’t apply and you’ll need to get additional coverage from the rental company.
- If you’ll be paying for the rental with a credit card, check with your credit card company to see what additional rental car coverage is provided. Call the number on the back of the card you use to pay for the rental before buying extra protection.
- If you’re on a group vacation, be careful about who is doing the driving. Be sure to list all who will be driving on the rental contract to avoid problems with the car rental company in the event of an accident. If your policy has the extension coverage, and your friend has an accident while driving your rental vehicle, your policy will cover the damage to the car, provided that your friend is listed on the rental contract.
- Remember that a Canadian auto policy and that rental vehicle coverage is valid in Canada and the U.S. If your travels are in Mexico, or anywhere else outside the US and Canada, you need to make other insurance arrangements.
My pal, Tamara over at Globe Guide has some great tips for renting a car when you travel internationally, and I think the most important of her list is always having some cash on hand (Tip 11). So many jurisdictions outside Canada are moving to toll roads (including some in Canada) yes, we’re moving digital, but having the coins or cash on hand to pay your toll will help you breeze on down the road.
Where are you road tripping this summer?
This post is sponsored by Esurance