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Business Travel Travel Tips

Corporate Travel Car Rental Safety

At a recent Association of Corporate Travel Executives’ (ACTE) Education Day, Detective Kevin Coffey outlined a number of best practices for business travel safety.

Click here for Part 1: Corporate Travel Safety On-Board an Aircraft

Click here for Part 2: Corporate Travel Hotel Safety

Using car rentals for business travel provides flexibility in getting around and can sometimes be less expensive than taxis. But while business travelers are generally aware of air and hotel safety precautions, not many of us think too much about car safety. Here are nine tips:

1. Don’t forget the basics.

Most savvy business travelers know to decline car rental insurance because it’s usually covered by their company or credit card. But it’s double check before you go. Also, always do the “walk around” the car. While it may seem unnecessary, the one time you forget may be the time you are blamed for someone else’s mistake. Before driving off the lot, make sure everything is working and that you know where signals and indicators are located. Trying to adjust your side mirror on the freeway does not make for a safe driver.

2. Keep your keys safe.

Keep your car keys with you and out of sight at all times. Years ago, car rental companies eliminated their logos from the cars, as they became targets for theft. While this precaution is helpful, you can still spot travelers by their car rental keys. Usually the ring has both sets of keys on it and a big tag with the make, model, color, and license number on it. Since you are traveling, a thief will know your car may have valuables in it.

3. Choose your parking space wisely.

Be careful when parking at events where thieves will know you will be gone for a set period of time (such as sporting or entertainment). Park “trunk out.” If storing items in your trunk, this makes your trunk visible in an aisle where more people are apt to see suspicious activity. When parking on the street, choose a busy area, i.e. in front of a store, hotel entrance, under a street lamp, or a busy corner. If the street seems too vulnerable, park in a parking garage where the likelihood of being broken into is less. However, still be aware of your surroundings. Being in a place where people can’t see you leaves you open to other acts of violence.

4. Load and hide your stuff before you reach your destination.

Everything you plan on leaving in the car should be stowed and hidden before you arrive at your destination. If, upon arrival, you take the action of stowing your valuables, you are exposing your possessions for all to see.

5. Don’t leave any possessions visible in the car.

It takes a thief five seconds to smash the glass, grab your valuables, and be out of sight, even with the alarm sounding. Keep in mind, it’s not only valuables in plain sight that are a target, but any bag or box may have something valuable to a thief. Even if replaceable, you are left with a broken window, which now you must deal with the car rental company to report the damage.

6. Unload your stuff away from your parking space.

If you have to remove luggage or valuables out of the trunk, do so away from your parking space, if possible. Should a thief see you taking it out, he/she will know that you’ll likely return with it, leaving you vulnerable as a target.

7. A neat car is less likely to get robbed.

On longer trips or road trips, we tend to leave more items in the car as we don’t want to haul everything back and forth to our hotel room at each stop. But leaving bags, or even covering items with jackets only attracts interest. If there isn’t much in the car, there is less curiosity.

8. Check for your valuables as soon as you return to your car.

If you have any suspicion, do a quick check of your items before leaving. A common tactic of thieves is to take a camera out of the camera bag, but leave the bag. You are then long gone before you notice the missing item, and can’t pinpoint when it might have been taken.

9. Take your time upon return.

Most major car rental companies have automatic check-in and readily available receipts from the rental return attendant. But take a moment and really check the car. But how many times have you stored your sunglasses or phone in the same area you do in your personal car, only to leave it behind at the return station?

As a final reminder when business traveling, don’t forget the four things to always keep with you: 1) your ID (passport if traveling internationally, copies when you are out), 2) a credit card, 3) a cell phone, and 4) essential prescription medications. If you lose everything else, at least you have the things that cannot be replaced quickly and easily.

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Business Travel

9 Car Rental Reminders for Business Travelers

Renting a car on business trips can provide an advantage over long waits with public transportation and expensive taxis. While car renting is generally simple, here are nine items to consider.

Top 9 car rental tips for business travelers

  1. Insurance – For corporate travel, check with your company to see if insurance is included in your negotiated contract. Often the counter agent will try to ‘sell-up’ insurance coverage, resulting in extra, unnecessary costs. If your company car rental contract does not cover insurance, check to see if your corporate credit card or personal credit card provides this coverage. If there is no coverage, review your company’s travel policy to see if they will reimburse you for the extra costs.
  2. Cost of damage – Depending on the insurance coverage, not all costs may be covered. Your credit card company may cover the damage of the car but not other fees incurred by the rental car company, leaving you personally responsible.
  3. Under 25 drivers – If you are a business traveler under the age of 25, be prepared to possibly pay extra. Car rental companies are reluctant to rent to young drivers because of their inexperience behind the wheel. If traveling for work, check your company’s travel policy as young drivers can be negotiated in a contract and no additional fees will be added.
  4. Extra drivers – Most business travelers travel independently, but on occasion there may be two or more people sharing a rental. Be aware, there could be extra fees for extra drivers. Think about designating one driver or keeping the driver number at a minimum to keep costs low.
  5. Stay on the road – It seems simple enough, but when the customer service agent reviews what you can and cannot do, pay attention to this one. Most car rental companies prohibit the use of their cars on unpaved roads. Even with collision damage waivers or car insurance, damages incurred can be voided if the car is driven on unpaved roads.
  6. Fuel – Fill the tank prior to your return. Car rental companies will ask if you want to purchase a full tank of gas prior to you returning it, but many times you don’t use a full tank of gas or can’t time it right to return the car on ‘E’. If they charge you to fill up the tank, the price per gallon can be two to three times as much as the price at a local gas station. As you leave the airport, look to see where the nearest gas station is so you can stop prior to your return. Again, check your company’s travel policy. Some companies will not reimburse this charge as it is considered extra fees.
  7. Airport fees – Car rental companies are obligated to pay airport fees and in turn, pass that expense to the traveler. To avoid this, catch a shuttle to your hotel or downtown area and rent a car from a different location. Many airports now have car rentals off-site, but it is still considered airport property and these fees are still assessed. You can find a list of these fees on your reservation to see if you are being charged.
  8. Bring your own extras – GPS, car seat, satellite, etc. can be charged separately on a daily basis. Bypass these fees and use your phone for GPS, bring your own car seat, and listen to the radio or phone for music. Corporate travel policies may exclude these items and you end up paying for it personally.
  9. Tolls – Many cities have toll roads and bridges. Do research prior to your business trip to see if there are tolls in the destination city. Many car rental companies will have toll boxes mounted on the windshield, but charge you a per-day fee to use them in addition to the toll fees. These usually are not on the final bill and charged later. As it can be difficult to find a receipt for expense reimbursement for the tolls, make sure you know how the receipt will be delivered. If no toll box is included, tolls will be charged to the license plate number, which in turn is sent to the car rental company and gets tracked back to you or your company. In some states, this is the only way a toll is invoiced. When there is a toll booth, it’s best to have cash, while some accept credit cards.
  10. Research new area – Savvy business travelers get in and out of city with ease because they are familiar with the processes. When traveling to an unfamiliar city, do a little research to make your travel experience smooth and possibly less expensive.