When hiring a car in Florida and also any other part of America we expect to have a vehicle that is clean safe and fit for purpose. However, issues can and do occur and in the main it is the responsibility of the rental company to resolve it.
The most common issues tend to revolve around defective lights, warning lights appearing on the dashboard and an unexpected breakdown.
These matters are unfortunate but can happen to any car at any time no matter what its age and are not limited to rental cars.
However, certain items are not covered by the rental companies as one cannot expect them to be responsible for all eventualities.
These are listed quite clearly and are as follows.
- Replacement of lost keys including remote entry devices.
- Lockout service if keys locked in vehicle
- Towing if not related to an accident or mechanical breakdown.
- Flat tyre service (if no inflated spare is available, vehicle will be towed).,
- Jumpstart's if lights have been left on and the battery is flat
- Fuel delivery service for up to 3 gallons (or equivalent litres) of fuel.
- Misfuelling – diesel pumped instead of petrol. Or vice versa
These can be fully protected so no charge falls on the renter by purchasing additional coverage at rental time or before. These ‘packages’ are entitled Roadside Assistance, Enhanced Roadside Coverage etc. The average cost is circa $5.99 per day.
However, the list of items also includes the following that is not covered by the rental companies additional coverage.
Undercarriage damage which tends to occur if the car is driven off road.
We now progress onto tyres. Most American rental cars will have the traditional spare tyre or 'space saver' Some though have the foam canister that is in the boot of more specialist cars and convertibles where there is no room for a spare wheel.
It is expected that the renter will change the wheel themselves if a puncture occurs. Thereafter it is a personal decision if the car is swapped out for another vehicle. Traditionally there is no charge for this.
But if a renter wants the rental company to change the wheel for them or bring another car to the location where they are at there is a substantial charge for this which I feel is totally acceptable. Purchasing the roadside assistance package negates this cost.
Finally, windscreen damage is a subject that frequently gets asked about. This includes but is not limited to stone chips, minor cracking, totally broken screen.
Some companies say this is fully covered with their Collision Damage Waiver (or similar name) that we all have when renting via a reputable UK website such as Alamo Brits, Virgin Atlantic, Netflights, Discountfloridacarhire etc etc.
However other companies state it is not covered by CDW and the pre-purchase of an enhanced roadside assistance package is required.
There is no clear-cut answer as responses to repeated E Mails and Twitter messages produce different answers depending on the person replying.
It is worth noting that a regular contributor to the Dibb Forums was quoted $1000 for a replacement screen for an Alamo Luxury car.
However, what is beyond doubt is there is no benefit at all in utilising the rental companies own product and it is far cheaper to opt for a bespoke product from an independent broker based either in the U.K or America.
A few examples are as follows
Enhanced Roadside Assistance for Your Rental Car - http://www.enhancedroadsideassistance.com/
Compare Car Hire Insurance - https://www.moneymaxim.co.uk/compare-car-hire-excess-insurance
Before booking any stand alone protection product please ensure the full terms and conditions are studied. In particular pay attention to the limits on what is reimbursed. Some of these companies will only pay a maximum of $500 which could prove to be insufficient.
This is not a definitive list and there are a host of other companies offering this type of coverage and this list can and will be updated over time. Invariably it is us the renter who must initially pay for the call out of the rental company to resolve the issue, for example lost keys. Thereafter a claim is lodged with the third-party supplier of the protection product who when the claim is validated reimburses the renter accordingly.
So, in essence a credit/debit card is essential to settle the account with the rental agency.
This information is not intended to influence anybody to buy or not to buy a specific product. That is an individual’s choice alone. However, it is an attempt to place as much information as is available in one place so we can all decide what is best for us.