Trap with US hire cars when it comes to policy excesses

As I posted yesterday, I have been over in the United States over the past month and during that period I had to hire a car twice. The first time they asked if I wanted to buy down the deductible and I said no, I have travel insurance for this.

As part of our corporate travel cover we have A$5,000 which is more than enough for any rental agreements I have seen in Australia.

The second time, I needed the car longer but just to be sure I mentioned I had $5,000 cover and I was then told the self retention was US$17,500. My first thought was how could it be so high, the second was thank goodness I did not have an accident with the first vehicle.

Morale of the story  is double check the self retention of any hire car, in any country and pay the extra for the buy down if you do not have sufficient coverage under your own travel insurance.

Also, like an insurance policy, a hire car contract is a legal document and you should read it before you sign it so you are not caught!

I thank my lucky stars I wasn’t.

2 responses to “Trap with US hire cars when it comes to policy excesses”

  1. Dion Guest says:

    Hi Alan
    This is a good tip. Another one to be aware of, particularly if you are sending employees away to hire a vehicle, is that the hire company will actually charge you the excess upfront and you are then required to claim back from your travel insurer. How many employees travelling for work have access to a handy $5,000?
    Cheers, Dion Guest

  2. Shaun says:

    I used to work in car rental in Australia for many years and have seen many tears. For the most part in Australia, the large corporate car rental companies (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz) are self insured.
    It is worth reading the terms and conditions when it comes to hire car and not just the part you are signing, as when you do sign, like anything else, you are stating that you have actually read and understood them. In Australia the Terms & Conditions for hire cars are generally not too long and should not take more than 10 – 15 minutes and are in language easy enough for most people to understand. The argument that you don’t have the time to do that at the counter does not hold water as the courts have upheld that any reasonable person hiring a car should do this before arriving to pick up the car.
    Also, be wary of any liability or excess reductions as these may have exclusions. I know one company with their $0 reduction does not cover any overhead or undercarriage damage and you are still liable for these up to the standard liability/excess if incurred.
    The biggest thing to take away from this however is, if you breach your contract in any way and as a result have an accident, you are more than likely to be liable for the full cost of repairs, not just the excess.

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