Hurricane Irma

Just two weeks ago, we were writing about Hurricane Harvey and how the rental car companies were responding. Only Hertz issued guidance in advance of that hurricane and the other rental car companies suffered. Enterprise alone lost an astounding 3,000 vehicles in the subsequent Texas flooding. With Hurricane Irma, AvisBudget Group and Enterprise Holdings have followed Hertz's lead in communicating far more proactively. The goal of these rental car companies is safety -- both of renters as well as employees who are likely evacuating many areas with an expected landfall of a Category 5 hurricane.

Enterprise Holdings 

The company has announced that locations in "affected areas" will be closed until Monday, September 11 due to the "anticipated arrival" of Hurricane Irma. The company sadly doesn't exactly explain how "affected areas" is defined -- the current projection of Irma's path suggests the storm might still have Tropical Storm force winds well into Georgia. However, the company notes that rentals already picked up in Florida can be returned to other locations.

Alamo, Enterprise and National use identical phraseology.

Hertz Global Holdings

Hertz has issued proactive guidance for renters but it's not as concrete as Enterprise's. Some (but not all) Dollar, Thrifty, and Hertz sites in Florida are closed and those with reservations are encouraged to reach out to their customer support line with any questions. Renters with cars already picked up have the ability to return the vehicle to any open location within 500 miles.

Dollar, Hertz and Thrifty use identical phraseology.

AvisBudget Group

The AvisBudget Group released guidance the evening before the storm was scheduled to strike Florida. On Facebook, their statement states that they will be waiving "one-way fees, late fees, and extension fees" for Avis and Budget but there's still no guidance from the Payless subsidiary.

Avis and Budget have posted this statement on Facebook.

Sixt Rent-A-Car

As of Thursday, Sixt closed its U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and its downtown locations in Broward County, since they were part of the evacuation area. It also closed all of its Miami downtown locations. By Friday at 3pm, Sixt closed its location at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Miami International Airport (MIA), and Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). On Saturday, Sixt will determine whether it needs to close its locations in Orlando and Tampa, depending on the hurricane's path.

Sixt is planning to keep their South Florida locations, both downtown and airport, closed through at least Monday. They plan to reopen on Tuesday the 12th, depending on the weather pattern. Sixt customers can return vehicles to other cities, including locations in Tampa, Orlando, and Atlanta, although Sixt has not provided specific guidance on whether this would incur an additional charge.

Fox Rent-A-Car

Fox Rent-A-Car released guidance the afternoon before the storm was scheduled to strike Florida. They state that their Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers locations closed on Friday at 8pm. Their Orlando and Tampa locations are scheduled to close on Saturday at 8pm.

Fox states that their Miami and Fort Lauderdale locations will re-open at 5am on Tuesday. Their Fort Myers location is scheduled to re-open on 4:30am on Monday, although given the most recent updates of the storm's track at the time this post is being written, we think this may be optimistic. The Orlando office is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday at 5am, and the Tampa location on Monday at 4:30am.

Fox indicates that vehicles can be returned to any Fox location in the state of Florida for no extra charge. They will also waive all early and return fees during the time of the storm.

Fox posted this guidance on their website.

Our Recommendations

If a renter has a question about a confirmed reservation that's not answered by the rental car company's policy (or if the rental car company hasn't issued a policy) for Hurricane Irma, we would recommend those renters call their rental car company's customer support line. That's true whether the renter already has a vehicle and there is a belief that returning to the scheduled return location is unlikely, unsafe, or impossible and for renters who have not yet picked up a vehicle.

Once a rental starts, the rental car companies don't allow us to intercede on behalf of renters. The renter has signed a contract taking possession of the rental car company's (expensive) car; only the rental car company can approve modifications of a reservation (such as dates, times, or return locations) once the rental contract is signed. The renter is responsible for the condition of the rental vehicle (which can always be replaced) if there's damage while on the rental car contract. If a rental hasn't been picked up yet and won't be needed due to changes in plans or personal safety concerns, please remember to cancel the reservation. That will allow the rental car company to plan effectively and perhaps get the vehicle to another renter or staff member in need.

General Safety Tips

In any hazardous weather situation, your safety is always the most important concern. Turn Around Don't Drown is a fantastic resource that reminds drivers to avoid standing water (always, not just during hurricanes) and AAA provides a fantastic post-hurricane checklist. We hope that our AutoSlash users are far away from the path of Hurricane Irma and as always, please remain safe.

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