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What is Included in Typical Car Rental Contracts?

By Kathy Heydasch
Updated May 16, 2024
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Car rental contracts involve two parties, one of whom rents an automobile or other vehicle from the other party. To ensure that both parties are protected from liability, car rental contracts are drawn up and signed by each. Typical car rental contracts include terms of length, amount of payment, which party is responsible for insurance, and other factors.

Basic information is always included in car rental contracts. This includes the name of the two parties involved: the lessee, who is the person leasing the automobile, and the lessor, or owner of the automobile. For further protection, each party’s full name and address should be included in the contract.

The type of automobile to be rented is also included in car rental contracts. This would include trucks, motorcycles and scooters as well. In addition, most car rental agencies have several automobile classes from which to choose, from small to mid-size sedans to luxury cars, sport utility vehicles and convertibles.

The amount of the contract is also an important factor. Some car rental companies have negotiable rates, so a savvy lessee might be able to find the same car for a lower price when comparison shopping using travel web sites. It is important to know exactly what is included in the price stated in the contract. Typically, items such as insurance, taxes and fuel are added on to the quoted price in addition to other items.

One of the most important parts of car rental contracts is the statement of which party is responsible for insurance if the leased vehicle is damaged or does damage to another piece of property. Car rental agencies will provide insurance for an additional fee. If the lessee already has car insurance, however, he or she is typically still covered while driving a rental car. It is important for a lessee to check with his or her own insurance company to know whether or not the driver is covered while using a rental car, or if he or she must obtain insurance from the car rental company.

There are many other opportunities for revenue for car rental agencies, so lessees must be wary when signing car rental contracts. For example, most cars are provided with a full tank of gas. If the car is returned empty of gas, the car rental agency can charge for the gas used at a rate that might be higher than if the driver filled the tank up before returning the car. Daily surcharges can be assessed for excessive mileage, toll booths, GPS units, cleaning fees, etc. In addition, there may be restrictions on where the vehicle can be taken as well as who can drive it, so it is important to read the contract in full before signing it.

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Discussion Comments

By Inaventu — On Aug 30, 2014

The article speaks the truth when it comes to refueling a rental car. The car rental companies usually put out a sign that says what it will cost to let them refuel the car when you return it. You might find a cheap car rental rate somewhere, but the discount car rental agency will find a way to make up the difference when you return the vehicle, like cleaning and refueling fees.

I always stop at the same gas station right outside the airport and fill up before returning the car to the car rental company. If time is a factor and my company is picking up the tab, however, I might just turn it in and let the car rental place fill it up. I may have a plane to catch.

By mrwormy — On Aug 29, 2014

I only enter into car rental contracts with unlimited mileage if I can help it. Most of the time I won't drive over whatever the daily mileage limit would be, but I don't want to take any chances. One time I was on a trip in a rental car and a section of the highway washed out. We had to drive four hours on a different highway just to get around that blockage. If our car rental contract had mileage limits, we would have paid a lot of extra money.

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