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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A car rental or car hire agency is a company that rents automobiles for short periods of time (generally ranging from a few hours to a few weeks) for a fee. It is an elaborate form of a rental shop, often organized with numerous local branches (which allow a user to return a vehicle to a different location), and primarily located near airports or busy city areas and often complemented by a website allowing online reservations.

Car rental agencies primarily serve people who have a car that is temporarily out of reach or out of service, for example travellers who are out of town or owners of damaged or destroyed vehicles who are awaiting repair or insurance compensation. Because of the variety of sizes of their vehicles, car rental agencies may also serve the self-moving industry needs, by renting vans or trucks, and in certain markets other types of vehicles such as motorcycles or scooters may also be offered.

Alongside the basic rental of a vehicle, car rental agencies typically also offer extra products such as insurance, global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems, entertainment systems, and even such things as mobile phones.

Contents

Business models

The Rental Car Center at George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Car rental companies operate by purchasing or leasing a number of fleet vehicles and renting them to their customers for a fee. Rental fleets can be structured in several ways – they can be owned outright (these are known as ‘risk vehicles’ because the car rental operator is taking a risk on how much the vehicle will be sold for when it is removed from service), they can be leased, or they can be owned under a guaranteed buy-back program arranged directly through a manufacturer or manufacturer’s financial arm (these are known as ‘repurchase vehicles’ because the manufacturer outlines the exact price of original sale and of repurchase at the end of a defined term).[1]

At the end of a rental vehicle's useful life, rental companies will often sell them into the used car market to dealers across the country via several methods, including direct-to-dealer and via specialized wholesale auctions companies (such as Manheim Auctions in the USA). Dealers generally will go through an inspection of the vehicles to make sure they comply with the safety standards of that dealership and then sell the car to the public. Many of these are known as program vehicles in the representation by the selling dealer.[2]

Rental conditions

Car rentals are subject to many conditions which vary from one brand to another. The vehicle must be returned in a good condition and must not exceed a maximum driven distance, otherwise extra fees may be incurred. Additionally, some companies set a minimum age for the vehicle driver, which in some cases is as high as 25, even in countries where the minimum legal age to hold a driver's license is much lower. In all cases a valid, current driver's license is required in order to rent a vehicle.

Recent conditions have utilized GPS technology to limit maximum speeds [3] or driving to specific regions. Renewable fuel vehicles are available in certain areas.[4]

The vast majority of car rental companies require the use of a credit card to make it easier for them to trace a person should they attempt to steal a car, or to charge additional fees at will if a defect is later found with the car.

Insurance / Waivers

It is typical, when renting a car, to be offered various forms of supplemental insurance and/or waivers as an optional extra at additional cost. There are several types of coverage:

  • Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) - sometimes also referred to as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) - covers the costs of damage to a vehicle in the event of an accident. In some countries the purchase of LDW covers all costs after an "excess" fee has been paid (e.g. all costs are covered after the first $500). Often a "Super" insurance product may be available which makes this excess amount zero. Note that LDW/CDW coverage is not insurance and does not offer the same coverage as a damage insurance policy [5].
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) - a product often sold in the USA which provides coverage in the event of an accident causing bodily injury or property damage to someone other than the renter and passengers.
  • Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)- covers medical costs and accidental death for the renter and passengers in the event of an accident during the rental.
  • Personal Effects Coverage (PEC) - insures against risk of loss or damage to the personal belongings of the renter (and sometimes the members of the renter's family while traveling with the renter) during the period of the rental.
  • Excess Insurance - When a car is hired in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Africa, New Zealand, Australia[6][7], and most of the Middle and Far East, CDW, Theft and Third Party Liability are generally included in the car rental price. There is almost always an Excess (also referred to as Super CDW, Non Waiver or Deductible) on the CDW and Theft portions of the rental. The Excess can range from about £500 to £1,600 and is the portion of the loss that that the renter is responsible for, regardless of which supplemental insurance / waiver products have been purchased. Excess is just starting to be charged in the USA, it is sometimes charged in Canada, and it is generally charged in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Excess insurance is a secondary insurance (only in place with the CDW and SLI cover) and provides coverage to the renter for the excess amount.[8]

In the USA, the sale of these supplemental insurance/waiver products may be regulated by each states' insurance departments and a special limited license may be required by the rental company in order to sell them. [9] The specific coverage offered can differ substantially depending on the State or Country in which the car is rented.

Car classification

To allow for a uniform classification and easy comparison of car rental prices, the Association of Car Rental Industry Systems and Standards (ACRISS) has developed the ACRISS Car Classification Code coding system. This describes the size, door count, gearbox type (manual/automatic) and whether the car is air-conditioned, encoded into four letters. Additional classifications based on seat numbers and trunk volume were also set by the Belgian Rent a Car association in order to provide an unified system for assessing the car types in online reservation systems such as Amadeus or Argus.[10]

See also

References


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Renting a car article)

From Wikitravel

This article is a travel topic.

See also Buying or renting a car in Australia, Renting a motorhome in New Zealand, Offroad driving, and Tips for road trips.

Renting a car may be a good alternative for some travellers. It will often be cheaper than going everywhere by taxi, and usually more convenient than travelling by public transport like buses or trains. Also, in many cases, a rented vehicle is the easiest way to reach various places that are difficult to get to otherwise — the isolated beach with no tourists, remote mountain areas, whatever.

In some countries, traffic conditions may differ wildly from what you are used to; see Driving in China for one example. In those places, it may be better to rent a car with a driver. In countries where wages are low, this may not cost significantly more.

Finding a rental company

Normally, rental companies have offices in major cities, plus airports, large seaports and large train stations.

It is a good idea to book in advance of travel.

Brokers can help you find car hire from most of the worldwide operators, sometimes at more competitive rates than renting from them directly.

Pricing

Price is normally calculated by number of days. The more days you take, the less you pay per day. Usually, price decreases on the following points: 1 day, 2 days, 5 days, 7 days.

If you have signed a contract for N days, but returned the car later, normally price per day is applied from your contract, not based on your actual duration of rent.

Price for durations less than a day normally are not regulated. If you need to return the car at significantly different time of the day, it is always worth haggling to get extra hours for free.

Booking and haggling

Booking in advance (either over Internet or through an agent) guarantees you a car, but it also fixes the price. When you reach your target country, you can't expect any discounts as renter secured you as a client when you have reservation. When possible, find two companies providing nearly the same price and level of service, then book only with one of them. This both gives you room for haggling on price with one company (20% can be introductory discount, more depends on your skills), while you have a backup with another company.

Local representative office of a global renting company will accept pre-payment for your reservation, but it may act just an agent, bearing no responsibility for the condition of the car you get, on details of contract at the country where you plan to drive, and giving you only the same information you can see when booking over the web site (sometimes even unwilling to call the office at your target country). If you find your representative acts just like an agent, step back and book via Internet: you'll have the same reservation, but also freedom to switch to another rental company, or to haggle with the company of your first choice for a better car. However, if for some reason you need to give a prepayment, a representative office will do the job.

Delivering the car to your location

Frequently there's an option to deliver a car to your initial hotel, and/or to pick it up in the hotel at your final destination. This option typically becomes free for an extended period of rent (e.g. 1 week and more, as for Budget in Portugal). In this case, an agent comes with a full set of papers, everything is filled out on spot and you don't need to visit rental office at all. If your hotel has only paid parking around it, it is your responsibility to pay for parking time required for an agent to prepare papers with you.

Insurance, Security deposit and Waiver

Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Liability Waiver limits your responsibilty to the rental company in case of collision or theft respectively. Waivers are also called franchise. Technically, the waiver is not insurance, rather the rental company agrees not to pursue you for damages, and covers the repair costs itself.

To ensure tourists will pay a waiver, rental companies take a deposit in either of two forms:

  • make a paper slip of your credit card asking you to sign the slip without any amount stated on it at the moment of signing. The slip will be returned to you upon normal return of the car (eg. Alamo/National in Morocco)
  • freeze some amount on your card (deposit; not necessarily equal to franchise amount). Ask at the moment of rental how large the deposit is; expect the amount to be unfrozen weeks after you return the car
  • make electronic pre-authorization of the deposit amount, which becomes available again on the card just 48 hours ater the rental contract is signed and the car is given (eg. Budget in Portugal)

Neither the franchise amount nor the security deposit amount is officially fixed in any contract - this is based on your trust to rental company.

Third-party insurance is either included in rental price or a separate optional fee.

Super-CDW is insurance to cover renter's person liability for damage of the rented car.

If insurance or waivers are optional, consider the following before accepting the charge:

  1. If you have an automobile insurance policy on your vehicle at home, check to see if it includes coverage for rental car damage.
  2. If you plan to pay with your credit card, check also to see if it includes rental car coverage. Be aware that in many cases this coverage is secondary (meaning your existing auto insurance coverage pays first).
  3. If you have purchased a travel insurance policy that covers trip cancellation, medical expenses, etc., check to see if it includes a rental car collision/loss benefit. Some packages do, providing primary coverage up to a certain amount. (Primary coverage means that the insurance pays before other policies, including your own auto insurance.) Depending on the amount of insurance you buy, the per-day charge for a travel insurance policy that includes rental car coverage can work out to less than the per-day amount of a waiver.

If anything of the above applies to you, make sure with your agent that they won't charge you their standard insurance/waiver.

Instructions that should be provided

When you are done with contract and papers, personnel should instruct you on every detail of using the car. Check against the following list to make sure you have all you will need:

  • what to do in case of accident; breakdown when you still can drive; breakdown if you cannot
  • how should you react to traffic policeman; any local specifics of driving rules and conventions
  • controls of the car that differ between car manufacturers (rear gear, seat adjustment, lights, radio, opening gas tank, opening trunk/boot, opening hood/bonnet, etc)
  • what kind of fuel is recommended (A98 vs A80; petrol in a diesel engine--both can prove an expensive mistake)
  • whether it's safe in this region to leave a locked car with luggage
  • known issues of this car model, of this particular hire car

Frequently you will be provided with a free driving map of the region.

Checking initial condition

Before you go, check the exterior and front glass of the car and ask personnel to mark in the contract every scratch and dent you find, and sign the scheme on both copies of your contract, or even keep digital photos of the condition of the car and picture any damages at time of pick up and at time of drop off, as when you return the car, it will be checked against the scheme you put in the contract.

Check that all numbers in the car registration papers correspond to the numbers on your car (body, engine) - it will be too late if police find an inconsistency in the middle of your journey.

Gas and mileage

Normally, a rental car is provided with either an empty or full tank, and is expected to be returned with the same amount. If the tank is not full when the car is returned but it was when it was received, you will be charged an premium for the tank to be filled. In other cases, you will be asked for a fuel deposit when taking a car with a full tank.

Ensure with rental company personnel that your mileage is unlimited.

If the car breaks down

If the car can still move, at least expect that rental company will replace the broken car with a working one, of the same or higher class.

If the breakdown totally prevents you from using the car, contact the rental company to return it ASAP, eliminating the risk of paying for days you actually couldn't use the car.

If the car can't move, the rental expects you to organise towing (on your own cost) to the nearest branch.

Understanding fleet

Normally, rented cars should not run over 50k kilometers or live more than 2 years.

Asking for a CD player or tape cassette player in the car radio works only in direct contact with your rental company; agents normally won't help with this.

If you prefer a tape cassette player, ask about availability before you book the car; this option is increasingly uncommon.

Returning a car

Normally you return the car to a rental office at your final point in working hours and have a final calculation done there.

If you left a slip instead of deposit, don't expect it to travel to your final destination. You need to trust personnel that they won't just charge amount they want.

In theory, it's possible to return the car even outside business hours of the nearest office:

  • choose a different office (usually, airport offices close later than in the downtown)
  • leaving all the papers and the keys either to a renter's trusted person (like another renter nearby, or a nearby shop) along with a blank paper where you write your full name, time and date of return
  • leaving all the papers, keys and the notes at the desk of closed office (pushing it under a door etc)

What will happen with your deposit when you don't have anyone check the car is a question.

With a pick-up-at-hotel option (see "Delivering the car to your location" above), you only need to park a car (for paid parking, pay for the next 1 hour) and hand keys to an agent that comes to the hotel (with a cheque for parking payment if applicatble).

Worldwide operators

There are many worldwide operators that have offices in most countries in the world. Information specific to each operator follows, sorted by number of countries.

  • 1,028 locations in 68 countries
  • 640 locations in 53 countries
  • Locations in 43 countries
  • In some countries Alamo, works together with National Car Rental
  • If deposit is taken by freezing on credit card, Alamo promises to return it during 1..2 weeks from the moment of car return (no travellers experience reported with this so far)
  • Country-specific details available in: Morocco

Booking Alamo from Russia - when you book rental in another country from Russia, Alamo.ru acts only like an agency, not a full-scale local representative (see Booking and haggling). They also declare that cars are never used longer than 6 months in Africa, which is much better than true for Morocco.

  • Over 4,400 locations
  • Avis Europe plc is a separate company
  • Over 1,800 locations
  • Over 7,000 locations in five countries
This is a usable article. It touches on all the major areas of the topic. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Simple English

airport, Germany.]] Car Rental is when you rent a car.

A car rental agency or a rent-a-car (car hire in British English) is a company that rents automobiles for short periods of time (ranging from a few hours to a few weeks) for a fee.

Location

They can be found primarily located near airports or busy city areas. The internet is changing the car rental industry with companies that are now called online car rental companies.

Purpose

Car rental agencies primarily serve people who have a car that is temporarily out of reach or out of service, for example travellers who are out of town or owners of damaged or destroyed vehicles who are awaiting repair or insurance compensation. Because of the variety of sizes of their vehicles, car rental agencies may also serve the self-moving industry needs, by renting vans or trucks.

Conditions

Car rentals are subject to many conditions which vary from one brand to another. The vehicle must be returned in a good condition and must not exceed a maximum driven distance, otherwise extra fees may be incurred. Additionally, some companies set up a minimum age for the vehicle driver, which in some cases is as high as 25, even in countries where the minimum legal age to hold a driver's license is much lower. Recent conditions have utilised GPS technology to limit maximum speeds or driving to specific regions.








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