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Is Renting A Car Good For Gaining Driving Experience?

Written by  Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

driving down the freewayImage by Robert Couse-Baker

For many, the prospect of freedom is the main attraction of learning to drive. However, with the cost of gas and insurance soaring at a time when finances are tightening in many households, lots of people are being priced out of car ownership.

As such, many drivers are not clocking enough road miles to cement their road confidence and reinforce their driving ability after passing their test. If you're a qualified but inexperienced driver, read on to discover whether renting a car is good for gaining driving experience.

Renting a car to gain driving experience

Renting a car to gain driving experience is possible. However most rental companies require you to be over the age of 21 and have held your license for over a year, so it's not an option open to younger drivers. In addition, drivers between the ages of 21-24 should expect to pay a young driver surcharge when renting a car with a rental company. The price of the average young driver surcharge is around $25-30 a day, which adds considerably to the cost of renting a car.

For younger drivers, car clubs like Zipcar offer the most viable option for gaining driving experience. Like rental companies, Zipcar require you to be over the age of 21 and have held a license for over a year to rent a car. But unlike rental companies, Zipcar do not add a young driver surcharge for renters between the ages of 21-24. Plus, such is the ambition of Zipcar to attract young drivers; on some university campuses they even allow students aged 18 to drive their vehicles.

Due to the restrictions on age though, renting a car to gain driving experience is better suited to drivers who are a little older. So, if you haven't owned a car for a while and want to familiarize yourself with the experience, or want to drive semi-regularly without the expense of owning your own car, renting may be for you. Even so, you will need to make sure that you're covered before getting back behind the wheel.

Another 31 miles southeast from Beluga Point, you’ll find the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage Valley. The Center, billed as 'Alaska’s most popular developed visitor attraction', offers up close and personal wildlife viewing and educational tours. You can go on a caribou walk or even feed some of the porcupines .The Center is also leading an initiative to re-introduce the once nearly extinct wood bison to the area. Admission fees and sales from their gift shop go towards helping hurt animals and conserving local wildlife populations.

Insurance coverage when renting a car for driving experience

With regards to insurance, Zipcar includes collision and a degree of liability coverage in the price of the rental. Zipcar's FAQs has more information on the company's policy on insurance and many other issues.

If you intend to use Zipcar often, you may also want to buy non-owners insurance that will strengthen your liability coverage. If you are hiring a car from a rental company regularly though, you will need to consider the purchasing of non-owners insurance more carefully.

Non-owners insurance

Non-owners insurance will provide you with liability cover well beyond the legal minimum provided by most rental companies. Non-owners insurance is also a lot cheaper than an owner's personal auto insurance policy.

To qualify for non-owners insurance the following must usually apply:

  • You possess a valid driver's license
  • You do not own your own vehicle
  • Some insurers will also demand that no-one in your household owns a car

What does a non-owners insurance policy cover?

  • Liability coverage: personal injury
  • Liability coverage: property damage
  • Medical cover*

*Only available with some non-owner insurance providers

To qualify for non-owners insurance the following must usually apply:

  • Collision cover
  • Comprehensive cover
  • Rental reimbursement during the period the car is getting fixed
  • Towing and labor involved in fixing a damaged car
  • Custom parts and equipment coverage

Because non-owners insurance mainly provides liability coverage, you will also need to consider a loss damage waiver/collision damage waiver (LDW/CDW) to fully protect yourself while out on the road in a rental car. A CDW/LDW provides coverage in the event of a collision and reimbursement to the rental company for loss of use of the vehicle in the event of an accident. Starting at $5 per day, buying a CDW/LDW with Insuremyrentalcar.com is up to 70% cheaper than buying one from a rental car company. To get an instant CDW/LDW quote, click here.

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