Coronavirus: Can I still hire a car?

By Jack Evans, PA Motoring Reporter

The ability to hire a car is, to many, a key way of getting around. However, with the current spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s a tricky time to think about taking the keys to a hire car.

Of course, government advice states that you should limit travel and stay at home whenever possible, but if you absolutely need to, can you get a car through a hire company?

Can I still hire a car?

Yes, you still can. Companies such as Zipcar and Enterprise are still allowing people to rent their vehicles and have put more stringent safety and hygiene measures into place.

It means that if you do need to get around and require a hire car, you can.

What measures are being put into place?

Companies are building on already-high levels of cleanliness in an effort to reduce the risk of coronavirus transfer. As such, Enterprise is including additional measures to clean both vehicles and locations. Key touchpoints in the car – such as the dashboard, instrument panel, steering column and wheel and many others – are all getting a thorough clean with disinfecting products.

Zipcar has changed the type of cleaning products it uses and has further enhanced the hygiene checks it makes on every vehicle.

Europcar is operating a ‘zero contact’ policy too, disinfecting car keys before placing them in a sealed envelope. This can then be opened by the driver.

What happens if I need to cancel my booking?

If you’re experiencing symptoms which could signify the presence of the coronavirus and had planned to hire a car, you need to cancel it.

Zipcar has waived cancellation fees completely, recognising that many people may need to self-isolate with very little warning. The company already allowed users to cancel at no charge with three hours’ notice for bookings under eight hours, or within 24 hours for journeys over eight hours. However, those who need to cancel with less notice need only contact the company and the cancellation fee will be waived.

Thankfully, Enterprise has extended its no-fee cancellation policy to include those who have pre-paid. Those who booked through a third-party company are requested to get in touch with them in the event of a cancellation.

Europcar has also extended its free of charge modification and cancellation policy to any current or future reservation for any pick-up until May 31 2020.

What can I do to help?

It’s all about cleanliness. Zipcar is requesting its members practice good hygiene, and ask that they bring disinfecting wipes to wipe down the car for yourself and others, and also use anti-bacterial hand gel before and after each trip.

You should also wash your hands both before and after being in the vehicle, and ensure that if you experience any symptoms that you don’t use a hire vehicle.