Living in a rural area and not owning a car soundsimpossible – living in an urban area and not owning a car sounds sensible. Youknow what we mean if you’ve ever tried to park in a busy neighborhood or hadyour car broken into. Urban car ownership can be a huge hassle and expense. Butwhat about those occasions when you want to buy in bulk, like that annual tripto Costco, or when you want to get out of town where no bus or train will takeyou? The answer: rent a car and/or joina car share company.
Each of these has its’ merits and actually saves you lots ofmoney compared to owning, maintaining, parking and insuring your own vehicle.Consider Manhattan;where, according to Wikipedia, 75% of the people do not own a car. If you are one of those people, here are someoptions and tips to consider when you get the itch or need to take the wheel.
Car Rental Renting a car seems like a pretty straight forward event: Youprobably chose a rental company based things such as the best rates,availability and convenience of their location. Actually there are a few otherdecisions to make and we don’t mean the choice of an economy, compact,mid-sized or luxury car. Another important choice you need to make is with theinsurance these companies offer, which you can accept or refuse.Keep in mind that before you rent a car, it’s a good idea tocall your credit card company to see if they provide any level of insurance coverageon car rentals if you pay for the rental using their card. Some credit cardcompanies will provide collision coverage if you use their card.Another avenue is your own car insurance. If you don’t own acar then obviously you won’t have car insurance, but if you do, check to seewhat sort of coverage your insurance company provides on rentals.If you don’t currently own a car but plan to rent withfrequency, you have another option that is worth considering, buying a non-owner auto liability insurance policy froman insurance company. These policies cost around $300 per year and typicallyprovide coverage for damage you may cause to some else’s car and liability forinjuries to its occupants, or to pedestrian, in the event of an accident. Anon-owner auto liability policy will also provide medical payment coverage foryou and your passengers, and uninsured and under-insured coverage.However, what it doesnot offer is collision coverage which you will need in case you damage therental car. If you choose to buy this type of policy make sure you understandwhat it covers. If you need morecoverage, find out about adding an umbrella policy to the non-owner autoliability policy. If you only rent a caroccasionally, then it may make more sense to buy the daily coverage offered at thecar rental counter, which is your other choice. Here are the types of coveragethey provide:Collision DamageWaiver – This coverage usually costs between $10 and $20 per day and will relieve you of any financialresponsibility in the event that the rental car is stolen or damaged.Liability Insurance –This coverage usually costs between $10 and $15 per day and providesexcess liability coverage of up to $1 million for the time you rent a car.Personal Accident Insurance – Thiscoverage usually costs between $1 and $5 per day and covers you and yourpassengers for medical/ambulance bills. If you carry adequate health insurance it may not be necessary topurchase additional coverage from the rental company.Personal Effects Coverage – Thiscoverage usually costs between $1 and $4 per day and protects you against theftof personal items in your car. You maynot need this if you have homeowners or rental insurance.
Car Share ProgramsThese programs along with theirbrightly colored fleet of vehicles are popping up in most major metropolitanareas. Why pay for a car that sits parked all week if you only need one occasionally?The membership fees for most car share programs cover the costs of the car,insurance, gas and all maintenance. After that members may be charged an hourlyfee and pay a small fee for mileage. The advantage to these programs is that adriver doesn’t have the responsibility of owning a car, and doesn’t have toworry about parking, insurance, repairs or maintenance, the latter of which isespecially annoying if you’ve ever owned an older car.There are also environmentalbenefits to these programs especially because sharing a car reduces the amountof vehicles on the road. In traffic-jammed cities like San Francisco, taking cars off the road to reduce congestion andgreenhouse-causing-gases just makes sense.
In areas where people are accustomed to drivingeverywhere but are considering the switch to a car sharing program, it is agood idea to first review: how many miles you’re driving in a month, how often,and to see which trips were necessary and which one’s weren’t. For those whoare very dependent upon their car, these programs might not be a fit. For thosewho already use public transportation or drive minimally, these programs are afit. For those who don’t own a car car share programs give you the wheels whenyou want and need them!
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