Hiring a vehicle is such a common part of the travel experience that you would think the process would be straight forward and transparent, yet somehow it is anything but. Do I need to buy additional insurance? What about paying the refuel of the car? Do I need all the extras offered at the rental counter?  The above questions come up every time we rent a car. Below are the things you shouldn’t do when renting a car in Uganda whether traveling for business or leisure.

Prepaying for the gasoline; the prepaid gasoline charges appeal to our desire for simplicity while  traveling, and the concerns about being late for the flights, since every few minutes added to the trip to the airport creates more risk for arriving too late to board. Rental companies have come up with new options for car refueling, and are giving them the hard sell at the rental desk. Unless you are sure that you will return the tank empty, or you gave got a pre dawn flight that will make it worth the money not to have to refuel yourself, don’t go for this.

Failing to check on your way out for a place to refuel on your way back; the best time to find a place to refuel your vehicle is immediately after you have picked it up. As you are driving away from the airport or rental agency, take note of the local gas stations, and make a plan to return to the most easily accessible or the best priced of them at the end of your rental. Those near the airports can be confusing and unfamiliar, so you don’t want to be driving in circles looking for gas station as your flight time approaches. You can figure this out on your way out, when you are not on pressure. However, in case you opt to hire a car with a driver to take you around the different destinations in Uganda, it would be the responsibility of the driver to advise on the best places to refuel while you enjoy your journey.

Buying insurance and your own auto insurance covers you, before accepting this one at face value, it should be emphasized that auto insurance policies can vary considerably, so you will want check with your own insurer directly. In case you have the minimum legally permissible coverage, it might not include coverage for the rental cars while if you have what companies call full coverage, it almost certainly does. You can all or email your insurer to find out. The main point is that the coverage you have for your main vehicle extends to your rental vehicle, because the rental is considered a replacement vehicle under the policy. In case you have a comprehensive coverage on your own car, your policy would also give you comprehensive coverage for the rental vehicle. Most policies will cover you even if the rental car is a better or more valuable than your own car, you don’t have to worry if you get an upgrade or rent a much better car than the one you insure at home. Note that an accident in a rental car will typically raise your rates if you have to make a claim on your own insurance policy.

When buying insurance, your credit card covers the rest, anything that is not covered by your insure is covered by your credit card. In most cases the credit card coverage is as good as or better than your auto insurance; in others it’s intended to be secondary insurance to help cover anything your auto insurance doesn’t. But of course, you will need to pay for your car rental using that card; just having a qualifying credit card doesn’t give you any protection.

Ignoring one possible caveat; loss of use insurance, in case a car is damaged, loss of use charges are applied to cover the potential revenue lost when the vehicle is off the road for the repairs. This is typically charged in the amount of a day’s rental for that vehicle, and most auto insurance companies don’t cover this fee. Many credit cards do but American express, master card and visa all offer loss of use coverage with rentals paid for with most of their cards.

Ignoring potential offers for upgrades. In the past, you can recommend reserving a low priced car and then inquiring about upgrades at the rental desk. This works best at busy times when the garage is running low on its cheapest vehicles, and may offer you free or very affordable upgrades to a larger car class due to inventory management issues. In most cases, the agent has got considerable discretion in setting upgrades, so if he or she asks if you are interested in a larger car, you can respond that it depends on the price, you can get a bigger car at a minimal additional cost.

Failing to check on the discounts; the rental car discounts are typically listed on the organization websites, some car rental companies are members of AAA and other reward programs, so have a look before booking and you could find a great deal.

Making too brief an inspection upon departure. When you pick your car, check it inside and out for anything that could potentially be considered damage before you drive away. You can look for scratches scuffs, loose parts, working power windows as well as mirrors. Always keep an eye out for problems both small and big; the tendency is to take a quick walk around the car looking for the blemishes and the scratches, thinking that big problems would have already been noticed, but it’s not always the case. You can take photos or a video of a slow walk around the car and kick the tires so to speak.

Leaving the final inspection to chance; recently the procedure of returning cars has come to resemble checking out of hotel. You need to return the car in the presence of the agent since the disputer of damage later becomes your word against theirs. Also you can take your best protection here for taking photos or a video of a slow walk around the car.

About crossing the international boarders; many car rental agreements don’t allow you to drive the car across international borders. The credit card companies may help here, as most do offer coverage in many international destinations. In case you drive across international borders without authorization and you have a problem, the protections of your rental contract, insurance and other sources may be negated.