Car rental policies

We compared the contracts of 12 rental car companies and found some concerning T&Cs buried within.

18may car rental policies hero default

You hired the car, even paid for the extra “peace of mind” insurance. Only after the accident happened did you learn of the fine print forcing you to pay for all glass and tyre damage plus salvage costs. You could be on the hook for thousands.

We compared the contracts of 12 rental car companies and found some concerning T&Cs buried within. Our Wellington mystery shopper also hired vehicles from Avis, Enterprise and Hertz to assess how excess-reduction cover is promoted to customers.

Fine lines

Want to read the full article?

  • Heaps of buying advice so you can choose with confidence
  • Independent reviews of thousands of products and services
  • Personal advice an email or phone call away on our advice line (members only).

Using travel insurance

The bond

Getting the whole package

Our tips for hiring rental vehicles

Policies compared

Car rental policies

Member comments

Get access to comment

Wayne H.
01 Oct 2018
Travel insurance

I understood that your travel insurance only covered you if you had taken all the excess cover the car hirer offered. Ie that you had paid to reduce the excess as far as possible

Consumer staff
01 Oct 2018
Re: Travel insurance

Hi Wayne, is there any particular travel insurance policy you’re looking at? It’s common for travel insurers to insist in the T&Cs that you purchase comprehensive car insurance for any rental vehicle (but you’re still covered even if you have a big excess).

We’ve seen travel insurance documents that make it sound like you need to pay to reduce the vehicle excess as far as possible. However, when we flagged this issue with the insurer in question, they said travellers are expected to purchase comprehensive rental car insurance, but they don’t require them to pay for the often-expensive excess buy-down packages. It may be best to get in touch with the travel insurer and double check.

If you would like to share more information about the policy, please email olivia@consumer.org.nz. It’s also worth remembering that travel insurance never pays for consequential loss.

Kind regards,
Olivia - investigative writer

Nick W.
22 Sep 2018
Rental Cars Excess Insurance

Two comments. Firstly, relying on your travel insurance is not a good idea. Often damage costs are restricted to your vehicle only, with damage to other vehicles and property specifically excluded. Two, I have bought 3 policies now from RentalCover.com, much cheaper than from the Rental Car companies, and no exclusions for glass and tyre claims etc. Check out their web-site. We have used them in both the UK and in Australia - will use them in NZ from now on.

Paul S.
11 Jun 2018
Additional fees for collecting at Auckland airport

We recently had a trip to Auckland, and booked our ticket through Air New Zealands airpoints. When we arrived at Budget, they said that we had to pay an additional $50 Airport fee. Nowhere on our confirmation email did it mention any additional charges. When I challenged it, they wouldn't let us take the car away and insisted that we had to pay it.

I have contacted Budget customer care with a complaint, but they have just sent back a standard reply without any specifics to the complaint I made.

Very disappointed with Budget and won't use them again.

Richard & Christine A.
09 Jun 2018
I cannot believe that you are not covering annual car excess policies!

We run an annual excess insurance cover for rental cars, costs around $100 year, and covers all excesses, worldwide, so we can take the cheapest option the rental company offers. When we returned a car in UK with a simple puncture needing to be repaired, Hertz charged us for a new tyre (we wish we had got the puncture fixed!) but our excess company fully refunded the cost to us.

Consumer staff
11 Jun 2018
Re: I cannot believe that you are not covering annual car excess policies!

Hi Richard and Christine, thanks for your feedback, which we will take on board for future articles. While it does not look at stand-alone excess insurance, our article does look at excess cover as part of travel insurance. Consumers need to be aware that these policies don’t cover them for any consequential losses – for example, when a rental car company charges you for their lost revenue during the period their vehicle is out of action.

Kind regards, Olivia - Consumer NZ investigative writer

Hans Z.
09 Jun 2018
Rental cars

Is there any chance of Consumer including Pegasus in its car rental survey as it's a popular low budget firm many people use?

Consumer staff
11 Jun 2018
Re: Rental cars

Hi Hans, thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately we weren’t able to include every New Zealand car rental company in our feature for space reasons, though we tried our best to have a representative sample. However, we will keep Pegasus in mind for any future article on the industry. Kind regards, Frank - Consumer NZ staff