Everything You Need to Know About Renting a Car During Coronavirus
Flying may still be risky, but you can safely rent a car for a summer road trip
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Avis and Budget both claim they are not only cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle after each customer return, but also before employees move it around the lots, in order to protect employees as well as customers from any germs the previous driver may have left behind.
Most major companies are requiring each of their different locations to use disinfectants that are “CDC-recommended and EPA-certified to be effective against the human coronavirus responsible for COVID-19," a spokesperson from Avis says. Many are also introducing safety seals for their vehicles. For example, Hertz is placing a "Gold Standard Clean" seal across the driver’s side door after the car has been sanitized.
In addition, most car rental agencies are only using digital rental agreements and receipts, and drivers can show their license at a window instead of by hand. At locations equipped with Clear, drivers can also take advantage of contactless pick-up, with a facial scan to prove their identity before they exit the lot.
Many agencies have retrained their employees to follow COVID-19 safety procedures. “We’ve provided additional personal protective equipment for frontline associates, increased hand-washing procedures, and incorporated social distancing measures,” says Joe Ferraro, Avis Budget Group’s CEO.
Most rental agencies will also allow for curb-side pickups and will deliver a rental to a customer. Plus they are limiting the number of passengers on shuttle buses that take travelers from an airport or parking lot to the rental agency.
What precautions should you take when renting a car during the coronavirus pandemic?
It certainly can’t hurt to do a little follow-up on your own. When you pick up your car, or when you call to inquire about a rental, ask the attendant what protocols were followed to clean that specific car. If you have any doubt, bring along some cleaning supplies and wipe down surfaces. Even if it’s not necessary, it might make you feel better. And, of course, if you’re traveling with someone who might have been exposed, everyone should wear a mask for the duration of the ride.
If you do decide to go for it, you will likely find a good deal. Because many car rental companies are facing financial trouble—Hertz and Advantage Rent-a-Car recently filed for bankruptcy and more than 2,000 Enterprise employees lost their jobs—prices are low, and many policies have become more flexible. And if you happen to be in the market to buy, many of these companies are downsizing and selling used rental cars at a steep discount.