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Renting a car is such a normal part of business, transportation, and traveling. This would lead you to believe that renting a car is an easy and simple process.

But renting a car can become complicated and it can be difficult to understand everything you’re responsible for. To help you get the most out of your experience and avoid costly mistakes, here are four things to keep in mind when renting a car. 

You may not need rental insurance

One selling point of a rental car company is insurance. Rental car insurance covers medical costs and damages in the event of an accident. But while some rental agents may lead you to believe that you must purchase insurance through them, that may not be true.

Though everyone’s policy varies greatly, it is quite possible that your auto insurance policy may cover this completely. Most “full-coverage” insurance policies will extend your coverage to rental vehicles. According to the Huffington Post, even the company of the credit card you used to pay for the rental car may offer insurance on your purchase.

It’s important to discuss these options with both your auto insurance and credit card company before making any decisions. Don’t leave the decision to be made at the desk.

You don’t need to prepay for fuel, but remember to refuel on your way back

When you leave the lot with your rental vehicle, it is expected to return with the tank equally as full as when it left. If your tank isn’t full when the car is returned, rental companies often charge you fees for fuel.

In order to offset this, many agents will offer you the option to prepay for fuel. While this seems convenient and simple, they can overcharge you very easily. Some may also offer you an option to pay for the fuel you use, which is usually aggressively up-charged.

In order to avoid charges and fees, ensure your rental is returned with a full tank of gas. According to SmarterTravel, you should always refuel as close to the drop-off as possible, in regards to time and location. Before you leave with your rental, you should already have an idea of where and when you’ll make this final fill-up. Remember to take a picture of the gas tank and save your gas receipts as well (just in case).

It could pay to do your research

As Business Insider points out, there are a variety of ways to find not only rental car companies, but offers, discounts, and deals. Remember to use the resources available to you to search around for various rental companies in the area and compare prices.

Check reservations through various companies and shop your options. In addition, you may be able to take advantage of potential upgrades and offers available through certain companies. There are also a variety of reward programs that are associated with certain rental organizations.

These reward programs can get you special discounts and deals and include organizations like AAA and AARP. You may also consider using review sites to see previous experiences of past renters through any given company.

Always inspect your rental thoroughly and stay put for the final inspection

When you’re ready to get into your rental car, it’s essential to do your own thorough inspection of the vehicle. Check it inside and out for anything that could be later considered as damage. You should be looking for obvious dents, scratches, scuffs, and burns.

You should also look for anything that doesn’t work or causes alarm. It could be beneficial to walk around the vehicle, take pictures, and record a walk-around video. To ensure there are no disputes in the future, lawsuits or claims, or hidden charges, you need to ensure returning the vehicles goes according to plan.

You should never leave the vehicle without an agent checking it, doing a final inspection, giving his or her approval, and providing you with the proper paperwork and receipt. This helps ensure disputes, overcharges, or claims can be easily settled for either side with written proof. According to AutoSlash, you should also take special note of the odometer and fuel level when you leave the vehicle. You can never be too careful when it comes to rental cars.