rental car question for NZ

Jun 28th, 2006, 07:10 AM
  #1  
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rental car question for NZ

Can anyone explain the insurance situation for rental cars in New Zealand? Do you pay an extra fee per day for coverage, or is it included in the price. I've seen words like "insurance excesses" (with a price tag of $2,300) and "additional insurances" with a $24.95 per rental day price. Do I have to pay both, either, none of these? I'm quite confused! Any help would be much appreciated.
caito76 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 07:44 AM
  #2  
 
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I'm looking at this at the moment and this is my understanding - please correct me if I'm wrong.

The excess amount (the $2300 or so) is covered by your credit card (is it actually taken?) at the start of your rental, to cover for any accidents. If you don't have any accidents it is returned. If you have an accident they will charge you the cost of the repair/loss and return the difference between the excess and the actual cost of repair.

The "excess waiver" (the $20 or so per day) reduces this excess to around $250, so even if the car is totally wrecked, this is all you would pay.

Having had a bump in a rental car in Italy, i would not be happy with a $2300 excess.

As a related side issue (excuse me if this is a stupid question) do Keas really do much damage to parked cars and, if so, are car rental companies sympathetic?
Maria_H is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 08:13 AM
  #3  
 
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We used Apex car rental and paid an additional $8 NZD per day for full coverage insurance meaning that if the car was totaled then we were fully covered.
CDJD is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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The only time we struck the dreaded keas was when we pulled into a lookout on Arthur's Pass and returned to the car to find them happily ripping chunks out of the door seals. They're not easily dissuaded, either. By the time we returned the car we'd forgotten about it, and if it was noticed by the rental company they didn't mention it.

I started a thread on the US forum about paying LDW (loss/damage waiver) while in America and after many reply posts I'm only a little the wiser. My conclusion is that we should pay up, but it does look like a nice little earner for the rental company, given that in most states by law (I understand) they have to insure their cars to a minimum of $20,000 anyway. I wish someone would publish a clear, unambiguous guide on the whole subject of rental car insurances, but maybe that's asking too much.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 05:24 PM
  #5  
GBZ
 
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This page should answer a lot of your New Zealand car rental questions
http://www.newzealandatoz.com/carhire.php

enjoy
GBZ is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 07:10 PM
  #6  
 
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Maria's explanation is correct for the most part. We've rented cars in NZ several times and have never been charged the excess up front though.

For the benefit of American posters: Excess = Deductible.

In six trips to NZ we've never had a problem with keas. They do like their rubber though, and keas are plentiful along the West Coast of the SI.

Personally, I feel that car rental companies gouge customers when it comes to insurance and that it's just a way to increase their profits. It bothers me to the point that until very recently, we've always refused to buy the extra coverage, choosing instead to take our chances, and we've been lucky enough to not have any problems.

As the US dollar has fallen though, that $2,700 excess is looking worse and worse, so we've grudgingly forked out the insurance on the past few trips.

I've learned a few things about rental insurance in OZ and NZ that might be helpful:

Some US credit card companies offer rental car coverage. HOWEVER, this coverage is only good if the renter can completely waive all the insurance. As far as I can tell, this can't be done in OZ an NZ as there's some insurance already built into the rental amount.

My solution has been to select a rental car agency based on low excess. For example, I've found a local car rental company in Perth that has an excess of only $440. I'm willing to risk $440, (vs paying an additional $280 in insurance I'll probably never need), whereas I have to think long and hard about risking $2,700. This particular company is competitively priced with the majors, has newer cars and offers drop off and pick up.

I've tried to find like-minded companies in NZ and other parts of OZ, but haven't had much luck.

However, rental car companies that rent older cars tend to have lower excess amounts. If you don't mind renting an older car, you can definitely save money on both rental and insurance by going with one of these companies.

I'm with Neil in that we could all benefit from a comprehensive consistent explanation, but no doubt the rental agencies across the world profit by keeping us all in the dark.

Neil - car rentals in the US vary state to state, as I'm sure they do in Australia. Yes, they insure their own vehicles, which makes me wonder why as a renter I'm responsible for things such as hail damage and rock chips. Some states (such as CO) require rental agencies to provide renters with the state mandated minimum insurance coverage as well - last time I checked it was $50,000 in collision and $50,000 in liability in the state of CO.

Neil - as an Australian, does your credit card company offer rental car insurance within Australia?
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2006, 05:10 AM
  #7  
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Thank you to everyone who has posted answers to this question! Very helpful to learn how it all works, and how you've all researched it yourself! I also just heard back from Avis via email with an explanation - they said:

"The excess amount will not be charged to your credit card at the time of pick up. We will only take an imprint of credit card, so in case of an accident we will charge to the imprint that we hold. For Additional Liability Insurance (ALI), the renter may purchase Additional Liability Insurance (ALI) at the time of rental. ALI provides additional protection for bodily injury, death or property damage and increase the limits to one million dollars. When ALI is purchased, Avis will always provide the Financial Responsibility Limits (FRL) on a primary basis."

So, the first part is very understandable, the second part gets a little vague again... but it is helpful to know! We will just have to drive very carefully!! I just hope I'm not a nervous wreck the whole time worrying about that large amount of excess $$ that can be charged to my card!

caito76 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2006, 07:08 AM
  #8  
 
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I think I might end up going with Hertz as their excess waiver at $22 a day decreases the excess amount to zero. They also don't seem to have specific road restrictions, some restrict driving on the Catlins route and one (Europcar I think) said that you couldn't drive on Arthur's Pass or parts of the west coast between 10pm and 6 am from March to the end of October. I'm not specifically planning to drive at night but as we will be driving in these areas, I'd rather have the option.

All the small print is a nightmare!
Maria_H is offline  

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