You obtain a great cheap quotation that includes full car rental insurance. The quote is far better than other quotes you have received so you are feeling more than confident and you go ahead and book your rental car.
During your trip you accidentally collide with the rear of a top range Mercedes but happily breathe a sigh of relief that not only are there no injuries, and that you have full car rental insurance cover.
You report the accident to the Rental Company and then you find out about the harsh realities about Car Rental Insurance…
FULL COVER CAR RENTAL INSURANCE DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN FULL COVER.
The rental company explains that you agreed to the terms and conditions of the contract, that in the event of your hitting another vehicle from behind, you are not covered. It is there in black and white and you signed it! Suddenly you are liable not only for the damages to the rental vehicle, but to the owner of the Mercedes you collided with.
That could land you with a liability that could easily run into a couple of hundred thousand Rands. Within a short few moments your trip went from idyllic holiday to real-life nightmare and you have no idea how you will ever repay this huge debt.
HERE ARE A FEW REAL LIFE LESSONS:
A beauty therapist hired a rental vehicle taking the highest possible insurance. Her first ordeal was swerving to avoid an animal in the road and she swerved off the road crashing into a rock face. Her second was realising that despite taking the highest accident and loss waiver available, she was not covered for the damage.
Unfortunately the exclusions she had agreed to kicked in and because her accident had not been caused by her physically hitting something she had no protection. She now owes some R300 000 for a written off rental car and some R50 000 for legal fees.
Ironically had she hit the animal she would have been fully covered.
An unnamed holiday maker was involved in an accident and caused damage amounting to some R150 000 and the insurers wrote the car off. The car was valued at R225 000. Again they took full cover insurance but were informed that their third party cover was limited to a maximum of R50 000. That meant that they were liable for the balance of some R175 000.
The small print of this particular rental company clearly showed that cover is limited, but like 90% of the average renter, few ever read the small print at the back of the rental contract.
Another unnamed holiday maker hired a sedan vehicle and on the spur of the moment and decided to travel to a game farm where one often encounters some terrible farm roads which result in severe damage to the undercarriage of the vehicle.
On returning the vehicle they found that they were liable for the total damages caused of some R30 000. Again because of the exclusions they agreed to, their contract clearly showed that any undercarriage damage was excluded.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
People hate contracts and hate small print even more, so it is a known fact that maybe one in every hundred people ever take the time and trouble to read them. When something goes wrong then all hell breaks loose.
We all tend to look at the price and opt for the lowest possible one. The old saying is “you get what you pay for” and it is generally very true whether you are building a house, booking a holiday or renting a car.
Remember that rental companies rent similar vehicles, pay the same prices for the vehicles and have much the same operating costs so when a price is cheap there is a reason.
HOW DO WE PREVENT THIS?
1. Keep in mind that car rental companies are not insurance companies and are not permitted to sell insurance in any event;
2. Each car rental company is different and while most will offer full insurance to inbound travelers, keep in mind that full insurance generally only means the highest waiver offered in terms of the rental car but there are always exclusions which you must check;
3. Find out most importantly what the extent of third party cover is. This means damages caused to other vehicles or property by your actions. It varies between zero and unlimited in my research.
4. Check what damages are excluded from the car rental insurance cover? Water damage; undercarriage, non-accident damage; negligence; accidents involving no other vehicles; damage resulting from driving on unsuitable roads and the list goes on…
5. Very important to note is a common clause which gives the rental company in its sole discretion, the right to entertain a third party claim. If there are any breaches to the terms and conditions contained in the rental contract, the renter may well find himself fully liable for all the third party claims.
OUR ADVICE IS SIMPLE:
Opt for the best possible Car Rental Insurance cover that is available even if it does cost more.
Never take the lowest price without comparing the proverbial apples with apples.
Insist on your quotation containing all the information you want and never be hesitant to ask.
NEVER EVER, allow anybody else to drive the vehicle who is not registered as an additional driver.
Drive carefully, never recklessly, keep to the speed limits, stay sober and adhere to the terms and conditions of the car rental contract carefully to keep your risk as low as possible.
Star Car rental wishes you happy and safe motoring in South Africa.