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Rental car hire by Australians and New Zealanders in the US

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Jan 12th, 2014, 10:28 PM
  #1
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Rental car hire by Australians and New Zealanders in the US

I thought I would post this in the Australia and Pacific forum as I am trying to get responses from South Pacific Fodorites and thought they might frequent here more than the lounge.

DH and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in May. I checked our travel insurance policy re rental car cover, and they cover damage to the rental car, but specifically exclude the following

Cover does not apply:
(a) If You are in breach of any local driving laws or rules.
(b) If You have not hired from a licensed Rental Vehicle agency.
(c) If You have violated the terms of the Rental Vehicle agreement.

Losses We do not cover under Section 7

We will not pay for any claims arising directly or indirectly from:
(a) Loss or damage that occurs whilst driving the Rental Vehicle other
than on a formed or paved roadway or car park.
(b) Loss or damage that occurs whilst the Rental Vehicle is driven by a
person not covered on this Policy, or if You are not a named driver
on the Rental Vehicle agreement.
(c) Any damages, compensation and legal expenses for which You
become liable due to the use of a Rental Vehicle, causing bodily
injury (including death) of another person, or loss or damage to
property other than Your Rental Vehicle.

It is the last clause I am really worried about. Have any of you taken out additional insurance before you travel or do you just take it out when you rent the car, or not bother at all. Any suggested internet sites that specifically add comprehensive insurance.

Thanks for you help.
nelsonian is offline  
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Jan 13th, 2014, 12:15 AM
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nelsonian -

When renting a car in the US, the car rental agency by law must provide the minimum state liability coverage. This coverage is in the quoted rental price. It's not advertised, as the rental car agencies would rather use scare tactics to sell their own insurance to renters because of it's high profit margin.

In the case of Hawaii, the state liability minimums are $20,000 for damage to another person, $40,000 in bodily injury for all third parties, and $10,000 in property damage. This coverage will be provided with your rental, but don't expect the car rental agents to be up front about it - they're there to sell you their insurance, period.

While it's certainly possible that a horrific accident could result in costs much higher than the minimum, and it's true that we Americans are a litigious bunch, the minimum coverage will mostly likely suffice.

If you have large assets to protect against possible deep pocket litigation, you'll want more insurance. If not, the old adage that 'you can't get blood from a turnip' will apply.

As expats, we've been dealing with this same issue for years - if we owned a car in the US, our car insurance would also cover our rentals. We don't own a car in the US, and our Australian car insurance only covers our Aussie car.

We've solved this by purchasing a non-owned vehicle policy, issued in the US by our former car insurance company, which is set up specifically to cover us for property damage and liability over and beyond the state minimums for car rentals within the US. They're hard to find and not all insurance companies sell them.

If you feel you need this type of coverage, you might start by asking your NZ car insurance company if they offer this type of policy.

Love Hawaii, haven't been there in ages though. Which islands do you plan to visit?
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Jan 13th, 2014, 12:17 AM
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You might find this article helpful:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/tr...prac.html?_r=0
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Jan 13th, 2014, 09:52 AM
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Thanks Melnq that is very helpful. Maybe I can stop researching now!!

We are going to Oahu, Maui, and Big Island all in 14 days. We have been told by other Fodorites we are doing too much and will be spending a lot of times in airports. Like a lot of others we have decided to do it anyway.
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Jan 13th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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Nelsonian, visiting those 3 islands in 14 days is definitely not too much. That would be considered a leisurely visit by me and many others!
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Jan 13th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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I'm a slow traveler, but I don't think three islands in 14 days is too much either. The flights between them are very short, the airports small.

I would suggest spending more time on the Big Island than the other two though. There are two major sides - Kona and Hilo, plus the volcanos - and as advertised, it's pretty big.
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Jan 13th, 2014, 02:39 PM
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Our plan is 4 days Oahu, 5 days Big Island, 2 on the Kona side and three on Hilo, and 5 days Maui.
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Jan 13th, 2014, 08:22 PM
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That sounds perfect!
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Jan 13th, 2014, 09:37 PM
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Hi Nelsonian - I always, always book my cars through driveaway.com.au - I have never had an issue and the main thing is it is not necessary to be upsold anything else when you pick the car up. Your rental price as quoted includes everything! I have used them for cars in the US, France, Australia etc and they are always a great price in fact some of the local rentals were cheaper through driveaway than the actual company direct.

I actually rang them when we were going to the States to verify about what 'extra' insurance will be needed once we got there.
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Jan 14th, 2014, 12:32 AM
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Thanks Stormbird I will check it out.
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