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A key challenge for SMEs is how to keep people and goods on the road when faced with breakdowns or other maintenance issues.

You might also not want to make long term commitments to new vehicles due to the potential impact of political decisions such as higher VED charges and increases to benefit in kind (BIK) taxes.

Company cars are a key benefit for firms but they are also a potential drain on resources, putting pressure on business budgets.

Rather than tying up finances in three to four year finance agreements there are more flexible alternatives.

Without the pressure of upfront costs, there is a choice out there of contract lengths ranging from a minimum of 3 months to 12 months plus.

Smaller firms get all the benefits they need to offer staff access to the latest models and stay in control of their costs.

Crucially, long-term rental means staff are driving well-maintained vehicles, lifting some of the burden of duty of care off the shoulders of fleet managers.

Look for a commitment-free’ solution to business mobility needs, rather than tying up capital in 3-4 year finance agreements for company vehicles.

With no fixed contract to sign, it is ideal for businesses that are uncertain about their future vehicle requirements or are nervous around long-term tax implications – but want certainty around monthly costs.

Look for a rental supplier who can provide ‘business ready’ vehicles with such things as Bluetooth and satnav, helping business drivers get from A to B with the minimum of fuss.

Crucially, firms can avoid the hassle of vehicle ownership, with servicing and maintenance of the rental vehicle covered as part of the package.

And you can maintain control over P11D value by keeping drivers in the same vehicle throughout the rental.

Renting a car or van should be straightforward but for a mid term rental it is important to pay attention to certain details:

Firstly, what sort of mileage are you expecting the vehicle to do and does this fall within the scope of the rental agreement – can you get unlimited mileage?

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Is there a damage excess payment and how much does this involve and, important, does the rate include VAT?

Look out for additional fees and conditions with regard to taking the vehicle abroad if that’s part of your business.

You will need a full driving licence for the type of vehicle you are hiring, a European identity card and/or passport, and possibly other documents such as a recent utility bill.

If you are planning to take the vehicle into another country you must inform the rental company as you need their permission to do so and they should provide with the correct vehicle documentation, motor insurance and breakdown cover.

Check to see if there are any waiver exclusions to theft or damage cover. For example, windscreens, tyres or roof damage. Always make sure you are clear about what is and isn’t included in the waivers provided by the rental company.

If you do not understand any aspect of the waivers or you are unsure of what is covered, ask the rental company for an explanation before signing your agreement.

Most rental vehicles are covered by roadside assistance. If this is provided, check which roadside assistance company is used and make sure you have contact details. If roadside assistance is not included, speak to the rental company about the options available.

If you have an accident you must not admit responsibility to any third party involved in the accident. Get the names and addresses of everyone involved, including any witnesses, and call the nearest branch of the company from whom you rented the vehicle straight away. You must also complete an accident report form when you return your vehicle.

If you commit a road traffic offence whilst in a rental vehicle you may be liable for additional costs on top of your fine. Each offence is handled and processed differently, dependent on the type of fine and the rental company.

The key to all of this to ensure you have the correct paperwork in place and that both parties fully understand the terms and conditions of the mid-term rental.


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Chris Wright
Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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