to live and drive in LA

Keychain-without-car-keys In certain cities, such as Los Angeles, not having a car is not really an option.

First semester senior year of college, I had an internship working for Robinsons in Los Angeles.  It was a part of the curriculum I was majoring in.  The professor who placed me there was clueless that I would need a car.  The location of the headquarters was not in an area where I'd feel safe living.  The good news is I went with my best friend. The best news was that my Grandmother bought me a car which I sold after the semester was over and gave her back whatever money I recouped.  I knew and she knew that Los Angeles is all about the car.

Yesterday Jessica flew out to Los Angeles to see friends as well as my brother and his wife and their kids for the week.  Here is where the trouble began.

Renting a car if you are not 25 is not easy.  She called Avis and gave them Freds supposed corporate account number.  More on the supposed later.  Customer service told her (actually Fred) that she could rent a car at 19 but it would be an additional 27 dollars a day for the insurance she would have to buy.  Great, done.

She gets to Avis, no go.  They won't rent her the car.  She'd freaked.  They send her to another car service they are affiliated with but unless she can show them that she has her own insurance card she can't rent a car here either.

We call Avis.  Ends up that you have to be 25.  If you have a Corporate account number, think large companies like Chase or Federated, then you can be 18 and pay for the extra insurance.  Union Square Ventures has an account but it isn't corporate but something else possibly due to size and use.  Regardless, with his account you can actually be 21 and rent just not 18.  Bigger pots of money available?  Who knows.

So Jessica is in Los Angeles without a car on a Sunday afternoon with zero access to some document that will prove she has car insurance.  Although for some reason they want it separate from her parents.  Like she has her own insurance.  Whatever.

Jessica, being incredibly resourceful, managed to get some company to rent her a car at 19 for an extra cost.  In essence, a car for the week will cost her 550.   God knows who she convinced but she did. 

Beyond frustrating.  Is the age allowance based on accidents stats?  How comes certain accounts one can be 18, while others 21 and without any account 25?  Why can you vote and be sent to war but not be able to rent a car?

Bottom line, visiting cities with fantastic public transportation before you are 25 might be the way to go and… gotta have a car in Los Angeles.

Comments (Archived):

  1. DonRyan

    Alas, this giant pain is due to insurance risk. It’s the same reason you can’t buy a drink but can vote and be sent to war at age 18.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Its ridiculous

  2. Mike Hart

    Having grown up in L.A. I can’t think of a worse place not to be able to have a car. Glad she was resourceful.

  3. panterosa,

    I am glad you posted this since my babysitters fall in this age range and it may soon become an issue. What about zipcar? The insurance is included, but I never checked for the age thing. If they don’t even see the driver most times then that might be an option for short term rentals. Since in NYC I gave up my car and got non-owned vehicles policy, which saves on rental car insurance options, but again I have not checked the age for add on drivers.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I believe zip car is available if you can show your insurance and zero accidents record prior to turning 25. But I’d go online and confirm that

  4. Shelley

    She needs to register for a Zip Car. Pretty sure you can rent those if you are 21 and in any city where they have Zip Cars. A lot of college students do that.