Hurricane Matthew got your car stuck? Don't worry—maybe, according to some rental car companies.
Some companies have put disaster waivers into place that give travelers some additional flexibility if they're affected by the storm. Here's what you we know:
First, the rental companies at major airports, train stations, and cruise ports are currently indicating that they'll be open as normal, as long as the transportation facilities remain open. (For local offices in the path of the hurricane, you might want to call the office ahead of time and see what their forecast is.)
If it's safe to do so and the office is open, the rental companies will expect you to return your rental car on-time, and if you need to keep the car longer, they'll treat it as a normal extension and you'll be billed for the extra days.
If the roads and offices are closed, though, you may be able to relax a bit: Hertz (which also owns Dollar and Thrifty) says they will waive penalties and extra-day charges as long as you picked the car up before the storm hits and return it within 24 hours of the office reopening. The other major reputable rental agencies are likely putting similar policies into place.
Also, don't worry if you end up having to drive the rental car out of the path of the storm and return it elsewhere. (The rental companies don't want their cars to get wet and damaged, either!) In previous disasters, rental companies have capped or waived drop-off fees—Avis famously waived all one-way drop fees for customers affected by Hurricane Katrina, and a lot of people got some great, free cross-country road trips out of that. This time around, Hertz is capping one-way fees for affected customers at $50, as long as it's returned within 100 miles of the originally-scheduled return location, and other major agencies are likely coming up with similar options.
If you end up getting stuck and have to ditch your rental car, be sure it's in a safe place and then call the rental company's roadside assistance department to make sure that they know where it is and where they need to pick it up. There may be charges for this, though, so try to get it back to an office if you can.
In general, though, you should check with the rental agency you're renting from directly to see what options are available to you. The major, reputable companies (Hertz, which owns Dollar and Thrifty; Avis, which owns Budget; and Enterprise, which owns Alamo and National) are usually pretty generous in situations like this. Other discount agencies may be a bit less lenient, though, so be sure you take that into account when making arrangements for changing your flights or other transportation. Rental companies often do charge extra fees for one-way rentals or extending your rental, so be sure you know what they'll charge before deciding what to do.
If you haven't picked up your car yet, we've got you covered: click here for advice on what to do if your flight is delayed.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact us for advice and assistance! (That said, once you've picked up the car, your best bet is to contact your rental agency directly, since the rental contract is with them. We're happy to help walk you through your options, though!)
And if you need to check prices on a new reservation, click here to get a rate quote with the lowest rental car prices on the Internet.