Cars for sitters

A few years ago we asked if we could include our cat sitter in the car insurance for the time we were away and they said that this is certainly free of any extra charges once a year.

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It especially important to us now with the cost of car rental being completely out of site! Just recently here in Oz, we looked into the cost of renting a car for a week and it was $848 AUD for 7 days!

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Yeah, we paid $2300 CAD for 4 weeks in the UK. We normally pay about $1200 for 7 weeks.

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That’s insane! Hope the rates go down at some point, after the rental car companies recoup all their losses from COVID. We sit full-time and that kind of cost is simply not in our budget.

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Yeah, it must be a totally different situation for full time sitters.

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The high costs are mainly due to the chip shortage. The rental car companies can’t refresh their fleets as a result, and then the demand soared as people started traveling again.

I couldn’t even GET a rental car in Tucson, AZ, last April.

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Hi @Gwailo, I did ring them, but obviously couldn’t get a quote as we didn’t have any idea of who it would be. UK car insurance is such a minefield🙄

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For our sit in Tasmania, Australia in March we rented a car for 10 days, from Hobart airport, and it cost $1200 including all waivers. We are renting a car in Victoria for 4 weeks in July and it is costing the same as we are picking it up from a Melbourne suburb rather than the airport where it would cost double that. We decided the saving was worth the inconvenience of catching public transport from the airport to the suburban car rental firm. It pays to check this out as airport rental firms are always more expensive than their off airport offices.

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I’ve heard people say that more than once, but every time we look for better prices at off-airport offices, they’ve never been cheaper. But to be honest, we’ve mostly rented cars out of Gatwick, and a couple of airports in France so not a ton of experience.

I think it’s also important to book cars through discount places rather than contacting the rental agencies directly. We’ve always gotten our best deals that way, and of course, we book as far ahead as possible.

Our best deals have been thru:

Kayak, Priceline, CarRentals.com, and sometimes GotRentalCars (but not lately). We check other sites as well.

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As a sitter I’m curious what everyones take on this is! I’ve only had one sit so far where they left an extra vehicle to use, however I already had my own so I didn’t need it. I also stick to sits close enough that I can bring my own vehicle or those in a super walkable area.

For sitters who use the homeowners vehicle - what do you use it for? Do you strictly use it for errands or do you also use it to sightsee around the area?

For homeowners who leave their vehicles - how much do you expect your sitter to actually use it and what for?

I ask because when I sit I’m mostly into the nature/hiking type sightseeing which tends to require a car to get to - but I’m a bit uneasy about using an owners vehicle for that kind of thing, and maybe only if the trail were less than a 15 minute drive away. I know everyone’s different but what’s the general rule for this?

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I’ve been allowed to use HOs’ cars on about half of my sits and in every case, the HO has said that I can use it for sightseeing, along with more necessity type things - groceries, taking the dog to the dog park.
On several sits, I’ve taken the HO to the airport and on my departure, left the car at the airport, taken a picture of the parking spot, and texted it to the HO.
Always leave the car with a full tank of gas, unless it is a plug in, then I make sure the car is charged.

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If we were able to let the sitters use our car(s) we wouldn’t set any restrictions. Unfortunately our cars are company owned and leased, so this isn’t possible.
If you are not sure where to and for which distance you may use the offered car, ASK! There’s nothing wrong with asking, because there’s no general rule about this. Best opportunity to find out is during a video chat.

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I’ve only been left vehicles to use in 7 of the 8 sits I did in New Zealand. I was told I could use them for anything and was very grateful as most of the time I had dogs so could take them exploring with me. In between sits I either used the buses or rented cars. I’ve never been left a car to use in any of the UK sits so I use my own, although some owners have expected me to use my car to take their dogs to different places for walks without considering reimbursing me for petrol. However, that’s my choice as I’ve wanted to vary the dog walks for the dogs and myself! Rental car companies generally don’t allow dogs in their cars.
Of course, I always leave the loaned cars with full tanks of petrol. I’m always very grateful for the use of a car if I don’t have one.

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I’ve been left a car to use a few times but only used it once. All times they said to use it however I wanted. But most of the time it was unnecessary. The time I used it was when I was in a small rural french village and I needed it for shopping. I used it one day to sight see.

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Hi,
Currently on a 6 week sit and have use of the owners 2nd car for any use. We are in an isolated hamlet, 30 minute drive to the closest store and no public transport. We have sat for the the same people previously and when they had 1 car only so they negotiated a great deal from hire car company for us. Overall more than half our sits have included the hosts car, which they have required an international lisense for their insurance. The majority of these sits have been in pretty isolated areas. The trend seems to be if you bend it you mend it, but if a mechanical issue the owners responsibility. so far we’ve had no issue and the cars are cleaned and filled with fuel before our departure.

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We’ve been offered the use of a car twice. The first time was on a small island. While we could walk for groceries or take a bus, the car was nice to go to the ferry terminal and to hiking trails that were a little too far. Although there were no restrictions, we felt that it was an island car and we never took it off the island. We left the car with gas topped up and so clean it was almost unrecognizable.

The second car was in a relatively remote area and had the dog’s crate in back. The agreement was to use the car with the dog. That dog had some great experiences because of the car. She went to several beaches and played in the surf. She went into towns and walked through old New England streets. Always, there were the daily runs in the cranberry bogs. The arrangement was that the owner would pay for one tank of gas a week. This was more than enough for the use. The car was left in tip-top shape.

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Thanks for the replies, this is relieving to know that the majority seem pretty lenient on car restrictions! I’m hoping to expand my sits to include more remote areas with car use, it’s such a bonus when you’re able to take pups beyond the neighbourhood and explore with them! :slight_smile:

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Hi Megg, I’m not sure which country you are in so hopefully this will make sense where ever you are.
I started this topic because I’m an HO and live in England UK in an area that is quite rural, the local small town is about four miles away and a fully stocked supermarket is roughly 20 minutes by car. There is a local bus (and the bus stop is a minutes walk from my front door) but it only runs about every hour (if we’re lucky)and the return journey can be tricky because the routes don’t all come back this way.

I didn’t want sitters to be put off, by feeling cut off. We are able to collect sitters from several London airports or local railway stations. Ours dogs can be walked without the need of a car, as we live near a large area of countryside, that includes part of the England coast path. I could also arrange for online food shopping.
Although I feel everything is covered, not everyone wants to be in a house for 24/7, plus we live near places of historical interest, that some sitters might want to visit and to get to those by bus, even with smooth connections could be 2 hours, but just 20-30 minutes by car.

Car rental prices can be ridiculously high and prohibitive. As we are lucky enough to have 2 cars and if our insurance cleared the extra driver, I wouldn’t have a problem with a sitter using it for site seeing/shopping etc. I would hope that any sitter would refill the car, if they had used it.

I have already spoken to my insurance provider and as long as the additional driver wasn’t 70 or over or had a poor driving record, getting them added doesn’t appear to be a problem. If a sitter was added to our insurance, damage to the vehicle would be covered, if, god forbid, the sitter was injured I guess their own travel insurance would cover that if they weren’t from the UK.

I have my first sitter booked already, he lives in the UK with his own vehicle, so I haven’t had to arrange cover in our vehicle for anyone yet.

For further sits I post, I will clearly offer the use of the car (provided I can get them covered) to make sure that everyone has that freedom if they want it.

So hopefully any sitters that may be interested, will ask before thinking our home is just too far out😊
Good luck with your future sits.

P.S. having followed a link to an older post, I read about a car share service. Sadly that is not available anywhere near where we are😔

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Hi @Sally1959 thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences regarding the use of your car by a sitter. We also found it very easy to include a qualified driver on our car insurance but always advise the individual to consult with their own insurance provider as policies differ so much.

As sitters we have always offered to cover any additional insurance costs and would fill the gas tank and valet the car ready for the owners return. As owners we always extended the use of our car I considered if I trusted them enough to look after my house then my car was a safe bet, not only that we had no other transport options where we lived in BC, Canada and all our sitters where traveling internationally.

Whenever we sit internationally the use of a car is a huge bonus and always appreciated, in fact in some instances it can make the difference between owners getting their sitter of choice or not. One piece of advice is to make sure the sitters have a copy of the policy detailing their cover and a signed “Permission to Use” from the owner, just incase.

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Coming from Australia, what sort of “proof” is required of our good driving history so we can be added to a HO car insurance in order to use their car?

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