|(ARA) - If you're traveling by plane in the coming months, chances are you’ll be renting a car when you land. Driving an unfamiliar vehicle in an unfamiliar city can be stressful. But with a little foresight, you can be prepared and relaxed.
Before You Go
Your safety preparations should begin when making your rental reservations. While you want to get a good deal, you also want a good car. Web sites such as that operated by Consumer Reports can provide information on car safety ratings. “Your insurance company may also have safety statistics on various makes and models,” says Jeff Beyer, senior vice president and chief communications officer of Farmers Insurance.
Rent a car that is suited to your needs. If you are traveling with a family of four and lots of luggage, a compact car may not have enough room. Also, make any special requests when you arrange your reservation. For example, if you know you will need a child’s car seat for your two-year-old, be sure to reserve one early -- don’t expect one to be available on the spur of the moment when you arrive to pick up your car.
“You’ll also want to check with your insurance company to find out how your coverage works for rented cars,” says Beyer. Find out if your insurance will cover service calls on rental cars, and ask your agent if you will need to buy any supplemental insurance from the car rental company. “By doing a little research before you leave on your trip, you may be able to save money by not purchasing unnecessary and overly expensive insurance through the car rental company,” he adds. Some credit cards also provide supplementary insurance if you use them to pay for the car rental. Check with your credit card company for specifics.
When You Pick Up Your Car
Check the contract to make sure you’re getting the rate and the car you were promised when you made the reservation. Ask the agent what to do if the car breaks down. If you’re not sure how to get to your destination, request a map and driving directions from the agent.
Once at the car, do a quick check for any damage; if you spot anything significant, call it to the attention of the rental company before you take the car off the lot, so you won’t be penalized for damage you didn’t cause.
Before You Leave the Lot
Familiarize yourself with the car: be sure you know how to work the headlights, turn signals and interior lights. Check the windshield wipers to make sure they work and that there is washer fluid; you don’t want to get caught in rain or snow with bad wipers.
Adjust the seat and mirrors. Check the seatbelts; is there one for every passenger? Are they easy to latch and unlatch? If you like to listen to the radio as you drive, tune in a local station that meets your tastes before you hit the road.
Enjoy Your Visit
Because rental cars are attractive targets for thieves, remove all valuables from the car when it is parked, if possible. If you have to leave your luggage or other property in the car, lock it in the trunk, out of sight.
By planning ahead and taking a few easy precautions, renting a car will be easy. Now if you can just fit all those gifts into your luggage for the return trip home.
For more information on Farmers Insurance, visit www.farmers.com.
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