Renting a moving truck can be a complicated and confusing—not to mention expensive—experience. Read on for some terrific tips that will make your moving truck rental experience easier, if not completely perfect.
Some truck rental companies are more oriented toward smaller, in-town moves; others are focused more on renting larger trucks for cross-country journeys. Seasonal discounts or special rates may be offered by certain companies but not others. Ask your acquaintances, do research online, and request estimates from several companies before making a final decision.
Make a reservation
Moving trucks are surprisingly popular, so if you don’t arrange to rent one well in advance, you may be stuck with a truck that’s far too small to haul all your stuff (forcing you to take more trips than you’d intended), or a truck that’s much larger than you wanted to drive. Renting a truck—and moving in general—will be a much easier experience if you plan the date of your move well in advance and do all your work based on that date.
TIP: Moving trucks are most in demand on the weekends, so if you can take a day off of work or move in the evening, renting during the week (Sunday through Thursday) is more likely to allow you to get the truck you want. You might even get a deal from the truck company for renting at an off-peak time.
Since most of us spend our days maneuvering small vehicles and aren’t accustomed to driving long, heavily loaded trucks, insurance isn’t an admission that you’re a bad driver but rather a way to protect yourself should anything unfortunate happen. Remember, you’ll be liable for damage that occurs to the truck while you’re driving it. There are several insurance options in truck rental arrangements. The two most common are Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) and Limited Damage Waiver insurance (LDW). SLI covers you against claims made by a third party (i.e., not you or the moving truck rental company) regarding damages to persons or property that you caused. LDW protects you from having to pay for damages to the moving truck up to a specified amount. The rental company may press you to get insurance as this means more easy money for them in any circumstance. If you don’t cause any damage, they have your insurance payment; if you do cause damage, they may have an easier time getting payment from their insurance company than from you. Never get insurance solely on the recommendation of the rental company—make sure you understand the insurance agreement and feel that entering into it would be in your best interest.
NOTE: Even if you purchase insurance, your coverage will be void if you violate other terms of the rental agreement. For example, if you let an unauthorized individual drive the vehicle, and that person causes damage to the truck, the damage caused by that individual won’t be covered by the insurance you purchased. Stick to the terms of the agreement, even—especially—if you’re insured.
Rent for the time period you need—and return on time
Don’t sign up for a three-day rental “just in case” if you think you’ll only need the truck for a few hours. The fee will likely be too high to make this valuable. On the other hand, make absolutely sure you can return the truck in the time period you promise, as late fees are borderline exorbitant at many companies. Some rental services will automatically assign you a certain number of days for a long, multi-state, one-way move, and if you rent the truck early, you won’t get a discount. Use the truck for the full time you’re allotted, but no more.
Document the truck’s condition
You may be required to pay for damages if anything happens to the truck while you’re driving it. The company should have records of existing damages to the vehicle, and will likely also have you fill out a vehicle inspection report to record the condition of the truck when you received it, but some disreputable companies or companies with poor records might attempt to charge you for damage you didn’t cause. If you have “before” pictures taken with a witness—to prove the pictures truly were from before—you may be able to fight a claim by the truck company. Your best bet here, however, is to avoid questionable companies that would charge their customers for preexisting damages in the first place. Do your research beforehand and choose the reputable business that’s right for you.
By using these five tips, you’ll make your truck rental experience a positive one, for yourself and for the company you choose. Keep a level head and make a good plan, and your move will go as smoothly as can be expected! And don’t worry too much about your truck-driving skills—you did get insurance, right?