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Rental car insurance

Need to rent a car here? The insurance can stretch your holiday budget.

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You’re eager to get on the road but first you’re confronted with a long list of costs. Some of these are optional and some not-so-optional (such as the excess waiver). What might have looked like a great daily rental car rate in the advertising now doesn’t look quite so great. Do you have to pay all these costs or are there alternatives?

Rent a car in New Zealand and the rental company’s standard insurance cover is included in the quoted price. It usually covers theft or damage to the vehicle; consequential damages; losses or costs to the rental company such as salvage costs, loss of revenue or loss of ability to rehire; and liability for damage to (or loss of) third-party property.

You get all this as long as you don’t break any of the terms and conditions of the rental agreement – including its exclusions.

Excesses and waivers

To find out more about the potholes to avoid with rental car insurance, become a paying Consumer member or log in at the top of the page.

Waiver alternative

To find out more about the potholes to avoid with rental car insurance, become a paying Consumer member or log in at the top of the page.

Exclusions

To find out more about the potholes to avoid with rental car insurance, become a paying Consumer member or log in at the top of the page.

Bonds

To find out more about the potholes to avoid with rental car insurance, become a paying Consumer member or log in at the top of the page.

Report by Kate Sluka.

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Other rental car costs

Avis, Budget and Hertz offer personal accident insurance and personal effects and baggage insurance. This is optional but it’s sometimes in a package with the excess waiver – and it usually costs around $4 to $6 per day. Your own contents insurance - if you have it - should cover any loss of baggage or personal effects.

Want to add an extra driver, GPS, child car seat, snow chains or ski-racks? You’ll be shelling out more money. For instance, a GPS may set you back about $10 a day – so, on a long holiday, it might be cheaper to buy your own GPS. An extra driver is free with some companies but around $10 a day with others (make sure everyone who will drive is listed because your insurance will be void if the vehicle is damaged when someone not listed is driving).

And then there are penalty fees for returning the car late without authorisation, or without a full tank, or in an excessively dirty or smelly condition, and for not filing damages paperwork.

But we’re not finished yet … watch out also for administration fees for processing damage claims or traffic infringements, premium-location fees (although you might be able to avoid these by hiring from a non-premium location and using a taxi to get there), relocation fees, and credit-card surcharges.

Rental checklist

Confirm the key details on the phone before finalising the booking:

  • Find out how much it’ll cost to have a lower excess and if there is a single vehicle accident excess.
  • Check if there’s a bond and how much it is.
  • Find out the full cost of the rental (including all the extras and GST).

When you pick up the car:

  • Look for dents and scratches before you drive away. Make sure the company takes a note of these and gives you a copy – or take your own time- and date-stamped photos.
  • Check the condition of the car (including the spare tyre).
  • Test the brakes before you get too far. Return the car if you’re not happy with them.

At the end of the rental … and just before you return the car:

  • Give the car a wash, so you can see whether there’s any damage you hadn’t noticed.
  • Take time- and date-stamped photos of the car – these are your back-up in case the company claims you’ve damaged the car.
  • Make sure it has a full tank (unless you’ve made other arrangements with the company).

Later:

  • Check your credit card for any additional charges.
  • If you’re charged for repair work, ask for proof of how much this will cost.
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