We started home exchanging at the very end of 2019 (only with PLU),. The Covid-19 pandemic passed by but we already realized 15 exchanges and 5 are to come.
I wanted to share our modest experience regarding an important point in exchanges: the means of travel. It is likely that if you stay in a big city, public transport (subway, train, bus...) is the best way to visit the city. But everywhere else a car is essential if you want to enjoy the area where you stay.
So, for trips where you arrive by plane or train (without your own car), there are 3 possibilities:
1/ This is undoubtedly the most economical solution. It is, therefore, necessary to see with your exchanger if an exchange is possible. The insurance contract is the key here. It is advisable to make sure that the insurance of the lender authorizes the loan of the car to a third party and that the license of his country is authorized. This depends on the country but also on the insurance policy. If the insurance has a deductible in case of damage, it is important to point this out or ask for it. Indeed, it is logical that the deductible will be charged to the person responsible for any eventual incident.
We have already lent our car and guests have lent us theirs, without any problem (well, just one speeding fine .. 😉).
2/ Renting a car from professional car rental companies is certainly the most common option for most travellers. Unfortunately, the rates are getting higher and higher all over the world.
Here again, it is important to read the different conditions of assistance and insurance offered by the rental company to avoid unpleasant surprises. An important piece of information to save money, some credit cards (for example, Gold Mastercard, Visa Premier...) have in their services insurance included for any car rental with professional rental companies (in addition to travel assistance).
3/ A lesser-known solution exists, renting from individuals via iOS/Android applications or websites.
Examples: Turo in the USA, Canada, UK, UberCarshare (ex CarNextDoor) in Australia, Getaround (ex Drivy) in Europe…
For me, it is a good alternative to professional rental companies for a lower cost.
My advice for these platforms is to select only the best-rated profiles, to choose the most recent vehicles possible and to subscribe to additional insurance (by the platform or other) to avoid any problem if an incident occurs. Credit cards don’t cover these rentals via their insurance.
We used Turo in the USA.
Here is our feedback. We rented 2 cars (one in Oregon and the other in California), picked up and dropped off easily in agreement with the owners, each time at an airport. We had taken out standard insurance to have a deductible of 500 USD max. We do not regret it because we received an impact on the front windshield causing a crack.
We immediately reported the damage to the private rental company via the application. Turo's policy is that the incident is first settled between the 2 individuals. Once the car was returned to its owner, we waited for him to provide us with the invoice (or at least an estimate) for the repair, knowing that we would pay the repair directly if it was less than the amount of the deductible. If the amount was higher, the claim would be processed through the insurance policy purchased through Turo.
After 20 days (the time limit for direct processing), the owner wanted the claim to be processed through Turo, so we paid $500 (the deductible amount) to Turo while waiting for the repair.
After a month of calls and messages from Turo, with no news from the owner about a repair bill, at our request, Turo closed the claim and refunded us the 500 USD paid.
Why the owner did not repair his car will remain a mystery. In any case, the Turo platform was efficient, at least in our experience.
This rental system seems to be a good alternative to professional rental companies.
This article is not meant to be exhaustive as to the various possibilities of having a car.
In any case, I give you a bit of valid advice whether you loan or rent: take pictures of the vehicle at the time of the assumption of responsibility and at the time of the car's return to avoid any possible surprises.
One last piece of advice, if you are a wilderness and/or hiking enthusiast, plan a 4-wheel drive car for countries like Australia or the USA. Indeed, you will find many unpaved roads.
On that note, have a nice trip with PLU!