Let’s face it, when signing the contract with a car rental company, few people overlook the option that authorizes an alternative driver behind the wheel whenever it is needed. To put it simply, the idea of paying just under $10 so that your spouse or friend share the driving duties during your trip is very convenient and this is why most drivers opt in for it. However, it is important to note that these small taxes tend to pile up relatively fast.
First off, we want to underline that it is important to take this option, especially since you could be in a lot of trouble if you have an accident with another driver at the wheel. From this point of view, the extra $10 seems like nothing compared to the void insurance and the huge amounts of cash you would otherwise have to pay for damages and medical bills.
On the other hand, this does not mean you should not shop around and be informed regarding the main factors that result in the additional driver fees, if you want to get the best deal for your money of course. Another important point to note about the car rental industry and truthfully, all industries are the frequent changes in law. In any state or country laws are continually evolving, a prime example of which is in the recent UK Budget that came out – you can read a summary here that covers pending UK motor industry changes due to come into effect later on in 2013. Back to the US though! Read on for what factors can affect the cost of adding an additional driver on to your motor insurance:
1. Your geographical location
While in some states these fees are regulated by the law, in others there is no limit to how much the car rental companies can charge for including an additional driver in the contract. Therefore, in New York and Nevada, the fee is of $3 and respectively $10 per day, while in the rest of the states these services can ask as much as they like. The only exception to this rule is California, where the legislation states that you are not forced to pay this fee, irrespective of whether this person is someone you know or a complete stranger.
2. The internal policies of the car hire company
Not surprisingly, the policies of each of the car rental companies are not created equal. With small price differences, most car hire services will waive the additional driver fee if you are a member of their special programs. Frankly, this membership has a lot of benefits considering that besides a potential member discount, you could also save a substantial amount of cash, particularly since they are usually charged per day.
3. Auto organizations’ membership
If you are currently the member of a recognized auto group, then you should consider checking for discount codes from the organization if you intend to rent a car in the near future. In addition to renting the vehicle cheaper from partners, auto groups like AAA, USAA, Costco, AARP or BJ’s allow for an additional driver free of charge.
Considering the factors that weigh heavily on the amount of cash you need to pay for adding an extra driver, we believe it is clear that with a bit of research and planning the high fee for this service can be avoided. While it is true that you don’t have not pay anything if you live in California, for the rest of the drivers this cost can be waivered by joining a car rental company program or becoming a member of an auto organization. We recommend trying eRentals, a UK company which can elaborate on the above information with their US options and packages. The USA Gov site also has additional details on what to expect and what the requirements are for foreign visitors driving in America.