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Help with car rental and insurance questions - South Africa

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Sep 14th, 2010, 06:00 PM
  #1
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Help with car rental and insurance questions - South Africa

Will need to rent a car in Cape Town and also in Johannesburg which we will drive to Kruger. What do I need to know about insurance? We have an American Express as well as visa and mc. I know when we went to Ireland last year, we were advised to take additional insurance as the only credit card that provided insurance benefits there were some Mastercard World cards.

Just wondering if anyone here has done the research and found out if insurance provided by any of the above credit cards would be sufficient.

Is it cheaper to rent a car in town than at the airport?

Thanks

Pam
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Sep 15th, 2010, 04:17 AM
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We rented a car for a month in Cape Town last year - I researched my credit card (and personal auto insurance) policies and concluded we were fine to decline coverage and use Amex or Visa (but we're Canadian so our credit card offers aren't necessarily the same).

Re personal auto insurance - we have a rider for rental cars but it did not include ex North America/Europe but your auto insurer might include SA.

I looked at all the major companies (more than once!) and in the end the best price was Alamo/National - mainly due to the absence of a high second driver fee. There are some local budget companies (with older rental vehicles) but I was happy with the price I got and the convenience of picking up/dropping off at the Cape Town airport. (price was about $35/day for a small car)
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Sep 15th, 2010, 04:49 AM
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Be careful to read the small print, and check what's excluded, eg 1-car 'collisions'. (say, when avoiding an animal or person. One reason not to drive at night!), or driving on gravel roads.
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Sep 25th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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We just returned from seven weeks in Southern Africa including South Africa where we rented cares in Johanesburg and Cape Town. We relied on American Express. Call them and they will email you printed details of their coverage including all exclusions. Only additional insurance we purchased based on Amex rules was liability. In addition, I do not believe their coverage includes full size SUVs.

Beware of corrupt cops who set you up for bribes by pulling you over for perceived infractions. The pattern goes like this: you are pulled over for x, y or z and asked for your license, then told you have to go with them to the police station immediately to pay the fine. When you protest that you are in a hurry and don't want to do this, they offer you the alternative of paying the fine at a discounted rate on the spot. This goes right into their pocket. Instead of falling for this shakedown, tell them that you know it is your right to accept the ticket and to go to the police station at a later date to settle the account. If it is an alleged speeding infraction ask them to see the digital photo and data of your alleged infraction. This usually puts an end to the shakedown.

Also ask for identification so you can be sure you are dealing with a real cop and not some entrepreneur who has put on an orange vest to collect "fines." Never give a cop your US State license. Before the trip, go to AAA and get two or three copies of an International Drivers License. When pulled over, hand over the International license which is valid in South Africa. Using this technique, you will still have a license if they refuse to return your license to you.

Beware also at returning cars at JNB. There is a STOP sign just before you enter the final Return Car lanes. Cops line up there to stop tourists returning cars with this shakedown. It really is a horrible problem for South Africa. Getting stopped by one of these corrupt cops leaves a very bad taste with you after having had a wonderful time in their beautiful country. Talk to your rental agent before taking the car to get the latest information.

Other than that have a wonderful time in a beautiful country.
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Sep 25th, 2010, 01:48 PM
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This SA cop scam, has it ever happened to you?
And if you argue and refuse the cop, would you rather have a bullet in your head?

regards - tom
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Sep 26th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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Yes, Boudecca, has it ever happened to you?

We've traveled extensively in rented cars all over South Africa. In our many years of driving there, we've been stopped exactly once, for speeding, (the sign was pretty hard to see) and were given the option of paying on the spot. It wasn't a reduced fee or anything; paying on the spot is done all the time by South Africans.

I wonder if this is urban legend.

Celia
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Sep 26th, 2010, 11:19 AM
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cary- how many tourists have been shot by police in SA? very few if any, I would guess.
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Sep 26th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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My not be real police, may be impostor.
If it's only one and it's me, that's one too many!!!

And again boudecca, ever happened to you or to someone you personally know?

regards - tom
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Sep 26th, 2010, 03:09 PM
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You've been watching too much "Police Chase 24/7"
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Sep 26th, 2010, 03:25 PM
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Is there a satellite TV channel that broadcasts nothing but world wide live police chases?? That would be AWESOME, a sure winner!!!

regards - tom
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Sep 26th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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The eyes of the world were on South Africa this year. It may have happened, but I don't remember a single report of police scamming or shooting any tourists.

It makes for a good story to tell when you get home, but not very representative of most visits to the country.
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Sep 26th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Hi Buckeye. Yes, I did alot of research in 2008 for our self drive trip through South Africa and found the CC auto insurance coverage not adequate. My conclusion came from talking to a car rental company here in the US, the one we used in S.A.,the CC companies, reading posts here and on TripAdvisor. The best solution I found was to purchase trip insurance that included the car rental coverage I felt comfortable with. I can look up all my details which I saved if you need more info.
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Sep 26th, 2010, 05:36 PM
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I was just looking at travel insurance. Without insuring the trip (put in $0 in the trip cost prompt), but with a three week car rental insured at $50,000, $50,000 med insurance and $1 million evac/repatriation, plus all kinds of other stuff if we die, the premium is $122 for two, not each, under 50 year olds. I was unable to do it through insuremytrip.com like I did last time, but had to go to the separate insurers to compare. $122 is less that I'd pay for the CDW for the three weeks, so it's a bonus. But, when I looked into renting through Avis there is some insurance included in the rental. So, see what you are comfortable with. Travel health insurance for me is a must as our insurance doesn't cover international.
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Sep 27th, 2010, 01:12 AM
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"paying on the spot is done all the time by South Africans"

Although thankfully I don't get may speeding or other traffic fines, as a South Africa that's news to me! That's not an option with either the "old" system, or the new AARTO that is being piloted in some areas. Unless of course the trap happens to be outside a Metro or SAPS office or station. In which case payment might be made there.
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Sep 27th, 2010, 06:32 AM
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Have never heard of a Tourist being shot by a member of the South African Police and While there are corrupt police officials all over Africa this type of Shake down as it has been described would be the exception to the rule rather than the norm as boudecca describes. I have lived here my whole life and travelled South Africa and Africa extensively. The rental companies will offer you different insurance coverage options I would advice on taking the most extensive and this will cover every eventuality. The price with the major car rental companies will be the same at the Airport as in the cities. The Well known established companies are Budget, Avis, Europcar and Hertz.
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Sep 27th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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Arthur, the one time we got a speeding ticket in South Africa we were allowed to pay on the spot. This was in 2004 or 2006 or so, in a small town somewhere between Johannesburg and Kruger Park.

In Swaziland we paid on the spot in February of this year, as did others caught at the same speed trap, and also many years ago, either 1980 or 1987. I know it's usual in Swaziland and Lesotho, and I sure thought it was the norm in South Africa too.

(I realize this sounds like we drive through Africa like madmen, but it really isn't so; we've sped, accidentally, 3 or 4 times in 30 years.)
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Sep 27th, 2010, 04:40 PM
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We personally had the experience twice in South Africa on our last trip. First time we were stopped for allegedly speeding in Acornhoek traveling between Hoedspruit and Kruger on the main road on July 28, 2010 just before the turn to Sabie Sands. We were definitely not speeding, climbing hill in second gear with other cars speeding past us. Our second experience was just outside JNB on September 14,2010 for allegedly not stopping at a stop sign when we did, in fact, stop at this sign. While we were pulled over we saw two other rental cars also pulled over by different cops. Reported the JNB experience directly to Avis. Manager went to location and got the cops' identification to report it to the local precinct head. Avis management confirmed this was not an isolated event.

I only report this as a warning to others not to be surprised by this activity as we were.
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Sep 27th, 2010, 11:21 PM
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Celia, I still don't think that was ever a standard procedure. I suspect that your donation didn't reach its intended destination. ;-)
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Sep 27th, 2010, 11:30 PM
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In any event, I've never ever heard of such a thing from my fellow South Africans or experienced it myself, it's certainly not "done all the time".

The only two fines that I can recall getting where I was actually stopped (one long ago, one this year) were dealt with in the standard way. Presentation of a summons for payment or court appearance later. I suggest that anyone asked to pay on the spot should start by assuming it's a bribe, disguised or not.

But I'll try and research this further if I can. And perhaps some other forum poster can verify that the Law allows payment at a road block/trap.
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