Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, 2017, on the Texas Gulf Coast, a region that's popular for commercial, leisure, and residential purposes. Wind damage, flood damage, and torrential rains are expected to make parts of the region unsafe for days and/or weeks. If one already has a rental car that's due to be returned in the region, how should one respond?
Hertz Issued Clear Guidance
Hertz was proactive, releasing guidance before the storm struck. If a rental car is due for return at a location that's closed during/after the hurricane, the renter can return the vehicle at any valid Hertz location within a 100-mile radius. Hertz wants the car back but also wants to ensure the renter stays safe! As of mid-day Saturday, Hertz was the only company with a posted hurricane waiver.
Hertz users have known flexibility if the expected return location is closed due to Harvey
AvisBudget Group and Enterprise Holdings Issued no Hurricane Statements
AvisBudget Group (Avis, Budget, and Payless) and Enterprise Holdings (Alamo, Enterprise, and National) did not issue any early guidance on Hurricane Harvey. Avis did come around to issuing a statement on Twitter on Tuesday (four days after Hertz's update) expressing a policy of flexibility and stressing customer safety.
We are committed to the safety of all our customers and urge those affected by #HurricaneHarvey to continue following the direction of local authorities. All extension fees, late fees, &one-way fees will be waived for those in the Houston Area. Please continue to check w/local authorities for road closures & important information. Your safety is paramount. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.
In all other cases, we would recommend renters call into their rental car company's customer support line if returning to the scheduled return location is unlikely, unsafe, or impossible.
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.
General Safety Tips
In any hazardous weather situation, your safety is the most important. 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 Harvey and remain safe through the severe weather event.