Renting a vehicle and insurance issues

We rent vehicles regularly - when we go and see clients in Wellington or the South Island, and when we go overseas on holidays.  We have always tried to be careful with making sure that we are fully insured - just in case something happens.

We always use the same rental car company - Hertz, and we have had an automatic setup to always take the insurance. Unfortunately, Hertz changed one of our accounts recently, and unticked the 'automatic insurance' when they changed the account - which we didn't know.  And of course - we had a small accident. Driving through an unknown intersection and roundabout, the driver wasn't aware that a lane merged into their lane.  It was a small accident, no damage to the other vehicle or any occupants, but the damage was enough to return the vehicle and get a replacement.

Because the insurance hadn't been ticked, Hertz took a $4,000 bond for the repairs and advised that it was going to take 6 weeks before we found out whether we would get any money back.  Good to their word, 8 weeks later when we followed up, they took another few weeks to get us the statement of repairs and surprise surprise... the repairs came in at $4,000 so no refund.

Obviously we changed the automatic setting as soon as the accident had occurred for future rentals, but it has made us much more aware of the risks of renting a car.

We have since become aware that rental vehicle insurance may not cover windscreen breakage or tyre damage.  Windscreens on modern cars are 'smart windscreen's and could cost you thousands of dollars if the fine print says that a windscreen isn't covered. If you misplace your key, this is usually not covered either and from experience, I can assure you that with all the modern keys the minimum cost is close to $1,000 for a new key.

I also strongly recommend that you look at reducing your excess on the rental agreement and insurance cover - your travel insurance may cover this for you (but travelling in NZ for work we don't have that cover).

For your reference, some of the things excluded on the Hertz insurance are:
1. If the driver was under the influence of alcohol (and warning, this could be interpreted as having one drink) or any drug that impacts on their ability to drive.
2. The vehicle is driven off-road (or on specified roads around Queenstown, Tasman or 90 mile beach)
3. The wrong kind of fuel is put in the vehicle.

It was with interest that I read the article below about hiring cars and insurance issues.  Let us know if you have any stories that will help forewarn our clients. For Moneyworks Membership Fee clients, if you don't have NZ Herald Premium, let your adviser know and they will let you know what the article covers.

Some of the hints in the article are:
1. Photograph/video the car's condition
2. Watch out for the extra's
3. Get your own insurance cover (Consider a standalone policy - one suggestion was TripCover.co.nz)

In summary - read your contract and insurance policy and know what you are and aren't covered for next time you hire a vehicle!


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