A hurricane watch is in effect for parts of Texas as Tropical Storm Nicholas could make landfall as a hurricane and bring heavy rain and potentially life-threatening flooding to parts of Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. If the storm impacts your plans, you may be able to cancel or modify a car rental reservation without a penalty. It will depend on whether you opted for a prepaid reservation. (See below for details.)
When is Hurricane Season in the US?
The Atlantic hurricane season runs for a full six months, from June 1 to November 30. The peak period begins in early August and runs through the end of October.
How to Return a Rental Car During a Hurricane
For the safety of customers and employees, rental locations in storm-affected areas may close temporarily or operate under reduced hours. Call the rental car company and ask if the storm has impacted your return location.
If rental locations remain open, the company will expect you to return the vehicle on time. If you decide that you need to keep the car longer, let them know. It will be treated as an extension and you’ll be billed for the extra days.
If the company is temporarily closing rental locations in the affected area, it may advise you to return the car after the office reopens. If the area is under evacuation, you may be instructed to return the car to a different location within a given radius of the expected return location. Depending on the size of the storm, this radius can be 100 miles or even as much as 500 miles. In either situation, confirm that the rental company will waive all extension fees, late fees and one-way fees.
What to Do if You Can’t Return Your Rental Car
Sometimes despite your best efforts, circumstances may make it impossible for you to return the car at the time and location stated in the rental car agreement. Contact the rental car company as soon as you are aware of the issue and be sure to document any conversations and communications. It can be useful to email the company’s customer support to create a digital paper trail. If your bill contains fees that you feel are unfair, dispute the charges.
If you end up in an area where roads are impassable and you have to leave your rental car, be sure to park it in a safe place. Call the rental company’s roadside assistance department to let them know where to pick up the vehicle. This will likely incur charges, however, so it should be done as a very last resort.
How to Cancel a Prepaid Car Rental During a Hurricane
If you have prepaid for your rental car for a pickup location impacted by a hurricane, contact the rental company to find out if the rental location will remain open. If the rental location will be closed, you should be able to cancel your reservation without being charged a cancellation fee. Be aware that the refund process can sometimes take up to 10 business days.
If you are unable to pick up a prepaid rental car in a location outside the hurricane path because of a cancelled or delayed flight, you should also be able to cancel your reservation and get a refund.
If you have reserved a rental car but have not prepaid, simply cancel the reservation. You will not be charged a cancellation fee.
How to Contact Your Rental Car Company
- Alamo: 888-233-8749
- Avis: 800-352-7900
- Budget: 800-214-6094
- Dollar: 800-800-5252
- Enterprise: 855-266-9565
- Fox: 323-593-7486
- Hertz: 800-654-4173
- National: 844-393-9989
- Payless: 800-729-5377
- Sixt: 888-749-8541
- Thrifty: 800-847-4389
Stay Safe During a Hurricane
If you’re traveling in an area that is under a hurricane watch or warning, your safety is the most important concern. Download the Hurricane app by the American Red Cross to track and keep tabs on conditions for your destination.