A Quick Guide to Understanding Rental Car Cover

With the extended weekends extending for three weeks this year (and joining school holidays!), there’ll be many more cars on the road as families take advantage of their much-adored long weekend vacations. If a rental car is part of your travel itinerary, then there are a few things to be mindful of to make sure you’re suitably covered in the event of damage or accidents during your trip.

Picking up the car

Probably one of the most stressful experiences of your trip; waiting in line to collect your car, and sweating bullets when it’s your turn to have their liability and excess policy explained to you. You might take their advice and secure the reduced excess (in the event of damage), agreeing to pay on average $30 more per day for your car hire just so you can grab the keys and get out of there. Phew. Plus, you reckon it sounds like a pretty sweet deal because who has $4,000 lying around?

Just don’t forget to note any existing damage on the car before you jump in and drive away so it doesn’t get added to your bill. Thoroughly check the interior and exterior and mark the form provided.

Always check the fine print

Standard rental car liability may not cover you to the extent your regular car insurance does. Make sure you understand what you’re being covered for in the event of a claim, so you’re not left out of pocket or, you’re at least aware of your financial obligation, like for towing and application fees.

Be aware of exclusions. There are sometimes exclusion clauses in agreements that might affect your excess. For example, the car wasn’t on a sealed bitumen road at the time, windscreen damage or undeclared drivers. This is why it pays to always read the rental agreement carefully so you know what you’re covered for and under what circumstances.

You will want to ask the rental agency:

  • What’s your liability under the rental agreement and what (if any) are the exceptions?
  • What are the exclusions to coverage?
  • What will be considered a breach of your rental agreement?

You can always explore additional coverage options, like through travel insurance, your own comprehensive car insurance policy, or optional extra rental car insurance if you don’t feel suitably covered with the standard agreement.

After an accident

While this isn’t something we want to think about – in the event you are in an accident, there are a few things you’ll need to do, whether you’re at fault or not.

Report the accident to police

It’s likely you’ll need to report the accident to police as you’ll be required to provide a report to your rental agency’s insurer. If everyone is safe (and not needing emergency assistance), you can do this online through Policelink or by calling 131 444.

Collect all the information

There’s no such thing as too much information in this instance. Take lots of pictures of the car and the scene and record all damage.

Exchange insurance information

If someone else is involved, you’ll need to exchange personal and insurance information with them, too. Also, if there are witnesses, make sure you grab their contact details before they scoot off!

Call the rental company

Contact your car rental company to let them know about the accident. List all damage to your vehicle, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant and find out what you’ll need to do to make a claim. It’s a good idea to ask them about any additional costs at this point so you can be prepared.

Double check the repairs quote

If your rental vehicle was damaged and needs repairs, make sure you obtain an itemised quote from the rental agency and challenge any costs you don’t understand or that seem excessive. This is to protect you from being charged the maximum damage liability fee unnecessarily.

Now, take a load off and enjoy your break!

Drive safe and enjoy your journey.

And if you do find yourself in an accident and you’re not the at-fault driver, you can get in touch with our team to learn more about your options…