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australia:car_rental

car rental / hire in Australia

introduction

  • hiring a car is a super easy task in most capital cities of Australia and in many smaller cities
  • the main rental companies in Australia are:
    • Thrifty - owned by NRMA and thus does offer discounts for car association memberships such as RACV
    • NB. Flight Centre, Escape Travel and Student Flights all use the same wholesalers and mainly deal with Avis and Hertz so you may have trouble getting access to Budget for some coverage whilst on unsealed roads
  • in tropical north Queensland, my 2015 contract with Avis from Cairns allowed driving on:
    • formed roads only including gravel roads
    • as far west as Chillagoe
    • as far north as Cape Tribulation but insurance only covers driving on the main road in that region
    • but no driving above snow line from June-Sept thus no higher than Bright or Jindabyne
  • HOWEVER, it DOES expose you to potentially high financial risks (in the many thousands of dollars and perhaps the full value of the car and any other damaged property) which are not readily evident on rental company websites

  • YOU MUST READ THE FINE PRINT OR RISK BANKRUPTCY!!!!
  • must admit never heard of anyone going bankrupt from car rental but it is easy to imagine you may end up having to pay the full cost of your car and perhaps another person's much more expensive car or property if your accident does not fall within the rental agreement cover
  • if you are covered but don't reduce the excess, you may still be up for $4000 for each damage event
  • in general, to minimise financial risk:
    • get the least expensive car that suits your needs and keeps you safe
    • pay for the insurance options that best covers your risks
    • CHECK the car BEFORE taking it to document undeclared damage which you may otherwise become liable for - and if it is present, photograph as well as having it amended on your rental contract papers before collecting the car.
    • be responsible and sensible and do not drive it outside of the rental agreement, in particular, do not drive:
      • country areas from dusk to dawn
      • unsealed roads unless agreement allows it but even then drive slowly to avoid undercarriage damage which will not be covered by any policy
      • during hail storms, floods, or snow
      • after an accident unless you have approval
  • disclaimer: I am not a legal adviser, nor work in the car rental or insurance industries, nor have I actually needed to make a claim during a hire car - this page is my interpretation of the terms and conditions each company provides online as of March 2015, and you may wish to read http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-07/4wd-hire-company-refutes-litany-of-scamming-complaints/9935858

general short term rental contracts

  • there is a base price including certain fees and taxes depending upon type of car
    • this includes Third Party Insurance provided by State registration body so you are generally covered for costs of injuries to yourself or other people in the event of an accident
    • this often includes accident, theft insurance albeit with a large excess
      • it usually covers costs to vehicle damage if you collide with another vehicle HOWEVER, YOU MUST pay an EXCESS often of around $4000 and this excess is payable separately for EVERY INDIVIDUAL EVENT
        • this excess can be reduced by paying an extra premium at time of car hire, although how much it will be reduced to depends upon the premium chosen and the age of the driver (for those under 25yrs, higher excesses will be required), alternatively it may be reimbursable from your credit card insurer if you purchased it with a credit card that provides such cover
      • there are many exemptions to these insurance covers (see the fine print), and many exclude “single vehicle events”, road side assistance, damage to undercarriage, etc.
      • Budget seems to offer the most simplified and extensive base cover:
        • Excess Reduction - unfortunately, you will not know what the excess is unless you contact the pick up point, but it seems to also include hail damage and Single Vehicle Accidents
        • Roadside Assistance Cover - for mechanical repairs, flat batteries, keys locked in car, etc
        • unlike most, does allow driving on gazetted unsealed roads but you will be liable for undercarriage damage so drive slowly
        • does not cover exempt damage such as water, overhead or undercarriage damage
      • Thrifty offer:
        • all rentals have collision damage cover with a base excess rate of ~$4000 and basic Roadside Assistance included but will need to pay a Single Vehicle Accident Fee if Single Vehicle Accident
        • Recovery Plus Protection - adds cover for lost keys, keys locked in vehicle, towing from remote areas, flat battery, run out of fuel, flat tyre.
        • snow cover - allows driving a 4WD above the snow line
        • Premium Protection - reduces excess
        • Ultimate Protection - reduces excess and covers windscreen, tyre damage, and hail stone damage
        • base rate includes damage or theft costs but with an excess (“damage liability fee”)
        • Collision Damage Waiver option reduces excess
        • Super Collision Damage Waiver option further reduces excess
        • Go Zen option removes excess, adds windscreen and tyre damage cover
  • there is usually an additional fee for picking the car up at “premium locations” such as airports
  • you pay for any parking fines, traffic fines, toll road fees, fuel used - generally you need to return the car with a full tank or pay for it to be topped up.

the fine print in most contracts YOU should be aware of

  • rental car examples:
  • YOU may ALWAYS have to pay the FULL repair bills to the car and third party property including other vehicles (if you were at fault) IF ANY of the following apply:
    • you have chosen not to pay for the insurance cover
      • this is called the Loss Damage Waiver option in Budget contracts
    • you fail to follow the defined processes after an accident
    • you drive between dusk and dawn outside of a town or city
      • this varies with companies and states, but in particular, you generally will NOT be covered if you hit wildlife during these times
    • you drove the car in areas not covered by the insurance of the rental contract such as:
      • off-road tracks, paddocks, across streams or waterways
      • unsealed roads such as made gravel roads (some 4WD contracts allow this, and Budget tends to allow it BUT you MUST pay for any undercarriage damage - see below)
      • certain remote roads
      • in the snow
      • on a beach
      • above the snow line unless an extra premium is paid to cover this and the vehicle is a 4WD
      • on car ferries or similar
    • you were reckless, forgetful, irresponsible, stupid, or broke the law, such as:
      • leaving the car unlocked and unattended
      • used the wrong fuel (petrol in a diesel car will destroy the engine!)
      • driving through floods, cyclone, bushfire or other natural disaster
      • driving in hail storms or leaving it outside in hail storm
      • damage due to accumulation of mud or dirt when used in mining areas
      • drunk driving
      • using the vehicle for racing or towing, or is being towed without permission
      • you allowed an unauthorised person to drive the car (ie. not specified in the contract)
      • careless driving such as driving over gutters damaging undercarriage or wheels
      • driving the car after a collision without the rental company's approval
    • certain areas of car damaged not being the result of a accident involving other areas of the car:
      • underbody damage (anything below the door seals level) - eg. hitting gutters
      • overhead damage - eg. damage from boom gates will NOT be covered
      • water damage
      • hail stone damage
      • windscreen
      • flat tyres
      • lost GPS devices
    • single vehicle accidents
      • these are when no other vehicle was involved
      • may include vandal damage at shopping centres, etc.
      • these events fall under a special category although you may be able to purchase a premium to cover some of these repair costs
  • you may also need to compensate the rental company for the time the car is not able to be rented by others if you have breached the rental agreement
  • you may need to pay “Recovery Costs” such as towing fees, etc.
  • you may need to pay an interest penalty charge for late payments
  • some companies fit GPS tracking devices and if you are found to breach any terms/conditions such as going over the speed limit or driving at night in rural areas then you will not be covered for any damages
australia/car_rental.txt · Last modified: 2018/07/07 03:22 by gary1