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An additional expense of renting a car is insurance company sells. The term "insurance," by way, is a misnomer since rental car companies aren't licensed to sell insurance. What they are selling are waivers, so you're not on hook for any damage caused in an accident.
The three kinds of waivers "encouraged" by major car rental agencies are as follows: physical damage waivers that cover any harm done to rental car; liability waivers that cover any harm you do to others and their property while in car; loss damage waivers that cover theft, vandalism and loss of use, which covers rental fees company might lose while car is being repaired.
Your personal car insurance might cover these occurrences, but they might not! The only way to know for sure is to call your auto insurer and ask about insurance coverage on rentals. Even then, your personal insurance may not cover rentals abroad, or certain vehicles such as SUVs, trucks, vans and campers. Do a little research now, save yourself some money later.
When it comes to fueling plans you also have a variety of options. You can: prepay for a tank of gas when you rent car (favored by car agencies since you probably won't use a full tank); worst deal is simply turning car back in empty since you could be charged about $5 a gallon plus a re-filling fee. The best choice--pay for only gas you do use. Make sure tank is topped off when you pick up car, and leave yourself enough time to find reasonably-priced gas near airport on day you leave so you can re-fill car yourself.
Always comparison shop, even on Web. Major car rental companies often offer Web-only discounts--take advantage of them whenever possible. Check Car Rental Center, as well as individual car rental sites. Ask about discounts for membership in national organizations (like AAA or AARP) or special rates for frequent-flier programs or credit card plans you may enjoy. They frequently offer good deals on car rentals.
Whether you book online or by phone, you can usually get a much better price by renting well in advance of your trip, especially if you reserve during a low travel season and travel in a high season. Make sure to ask agent about restrictions, additional fees and insurance costs.
Finally, be careful to coordinate pick-up and return times so as not to be charged for an extra day. Best wishes for safe traveling.
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently V.P. of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business providing valuable information on a variety of timely topics. For a garage full of suggestions, resources and advice about car rentals, visit http://www.CarRentalGuy.com