Renting a truck or van is not like renting a regular passenger car. The same rules do not apply. Trucks and vans are typically considered “commercial vehicles.” Because of that, they are priced differently and have different insurance rules.

When renting a truck or van, here are the most important things to remember:

You should almost always buy the insurance

Most personal auto-insurance companies do not cover usage of commercial vehicles with a personal-insurance policy.

This means that if you rent a truck or van you could be driving uninsured. Get in a wreck? Total the vehicle? You could end up owing your rental company tens of thousands of dollars and even being liable for any damage caused to other drivers or parties.

Because of this, rental companies typically offer two different types of insurance:

  1. Insurance to cover damage to just the vehicle
  2. Insurance to cover personal and property damage (such as damage to others)

We recommend making sure you have at least state-minimum coverage and also have basic insurance to limit your exposure to damage to your rental vehicle. Even if you must purchase it from your rental company, it’s a worthwhile investment.

At Fetch, we include insurance for free with every rental.

Ask about per-mile pricing and other fees

Many truck rental companies advertise a low daily rate, but they then hit you with per mile pricing ranging from $0.69 to $1.09 per mile!

When picking up your vehicle, make sure you’ve verified if any miles are included with your rental and how much each additional mile will cost.

For example, take a rental where you’ll be traveling 50 miles. A $20 daily rental quickly turns into a $70 rental. And you haven’t even paid for gas or insurance, yet.

Make sure your vehicle is clean

If you don’t leave your vehicle reasonably clean, rental companies may charge you a cleaning fee, typically ranging from $25 — $100.

What’s the general rule for leaving your vehicle? Make sure any dirt or mess you’ve left behind can be cleaned with a vacuum. Stains on seats, spilled drinks on floor mats and anything requiring a scrubbing will typically lead to a cleaning fee.

Also, it’s best to leave pets at home. Unconstrained animals quickly scratch door panels, tear seats and stain vehicles.

Fill up the gas tank

Unfilled gas tanks are easy ways for rental companies to charge “filling” fees, ranging anywhere from $5 — $20, plus the cost of gas. Before you complete your rental check-in , make sure to ask about the gas fill-up fees.

Rental companies will typically charge for the act of filling up the vehicle, whether they have to add just a gallon or a full tank. They’ll also mark up the cost of the gas to increase the fees you pay.

If your rental company doesn’t provide gas, make sure to take a picture of the gas gauge before you start a rental and immediately when you return your rental. Of course, be sure to fill up your gas tank before returning.

At Fetch, we think this is not only inconvenient, but also a device used to increase the cost of your rental. We provide free gas with every rental and don’t require you to fill up.

Not all reservations are guaranteed

Unfortunately, many rental companies do not guarantee your reservation, and they may even over-book vehicles.

It’s not uncommon to reserve a truck and then show up to find your truck is not available. Rental companies do this to maximize their utilization, but it comes at the expense and inconvenience of you, the customer.

Even if you reserve a vehicle on a company’s website, make sure to call to ask about their reservation policy and ensure your vehicle will be available.

We hope these tips help you understand the differences in renting a truck/van as opposed to a personal vehicle (such as a sedan).