Like millions of Americans who rent vehicles for business and pleasure, you probably shop for the best price, upgrade offers or loyalty points. But how much thought do you give to the safety record or conditions of the vehicle you’re renting? If you’re using your personal insurance for rental car collision coverage, even a minor accident has the potential to put points on your record and drive up your premiums. Here are some statistics and rental car safety tips to keep in mind next time you rent a car.
USA TODAY recently analyzed 167 different vehicles in eight categories commonly available in America’s rental fleets. 95% received “good” safety ratings for head-on collisions. But the analysis found a big variance for other common types of crashes: side-impact, rear-end and roll-overs. Top Safety Picks (TSPs) were assigned based on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data. The TSP designations were given to a variety of vehicles in each category, including Ford Fiesta for Mini Cars, Honda Civic 4-Door and Chevy Cruze for Small Cars, Dodge Avenger and VW Jetta for Mid-Size and Honday Odyssey and Toyota Sienna for Mini Vans. You Read the entire list here.
Not every rental car company is going to have a wide choice of vehicles in every category. Sometimes you have to settle for what’s available. But you can and should do your own safety inspection before you leave the lot. Understanding the basics of an unfamiliar vehicle you’ll be driving in unfamiliar territory could save your life, or at minimum prevent frustration. Here’s a short list of things to check to avoid accidents and keep your personal car insurance premiums low.
- Check the tires to be sure they are properly inflated, have plenty of tread and that the tread is wearing evenly.
- Take a quick peek under the hood. You don't need to be a mechanic to see fluids sprayed around or a corroded battery. While you're under there, check the windshield wiper reservoir, and the oil and antifreeze levels.
- Look in the trunk and check for a spare tire and jack.
- Get in, turn the car on and check the lights (low and high beams), turn indicators, emergency flasher and dash lights. A couple minutes checking these basic functions can save your life.
- Turn on the windshield wipers and spray water. Are the blades are in good working condition?
- Beep the horn. You don't want to find out it doesn't work when you're trying to avoid an accident.
- Look in the glove box and check for an Owner’s Manual.
- Try all the seat and mirror adjustments to make certain they’re operating smoothly.
- Familiarize yourself with how to auto lock all doors and windows.
- Adjust the seat belt and make sure the buckle-unbuckle mechanism works smoothly.
If you are a frequent renter, consider carrying collision and comprehensive coverage for your personal car insurance policy. It will probably be cheaper in the long run than buying the insurance offered by the rental car company. You can shop for car insurance quotes online at this website.