Insurance is a topic no-one really likes to talk or even think about; boring and expensive, it is one of those parts of life we deal with because we have to. However, it is a necessary evil, especially when you are driving a car that does not belong to you. The majority of the time, you won’t use the insurance you have bought - but when you do, you will be glad of as much cover as possible. Driving away with no worries is always worth it. Here’s some information about the excess insurance offered by Airport Rentals to customers wanting to grab car rentals in Australia or book a New Zealand car hire.
Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance is a supplement to the insurance you have with the rental company, and it reimburses the excess you pay if the vehicle is damaged - reducing your losses to very little or even zero. We asked Michelle Chandler, Airport Rentals’ own Excess Refund Insurance expert, to answer some common questions about the product, how it works, and why it’s an advantage for car rental customers.
The rental process
When you, an Australian or New Zealand resident, select a car on AirportRentals.com or AirportRentals.com.au, you will be presented with options for extras like booster seats and GPS, a breakdown of the price, fields to enter rental, flight and payment details, and a quick explanation of Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance with the amount of the excess on that vehicle and the option to protect the excess for a daily fee. Should you opt to insure your excess, just select “Go To Next Step with Protection Plus” and the charge will be added to the price breakdown.
What’s this charge for?
You have selected to insure your excess with Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance, and the charge is the cost for this insurance.
It’s the rental company’s car, why don’t they insure it?
This can be confusing for many customers - and we can see why. The rental company will insure their vehicles, however as their insurer will impose a large excess, (often up to $3,500 and sometimes up to $5,000) they pass this liability onto you. The Rental Agreement you sign with the rental company when you collect the vehicle will state that should there be any damage to the vehicle, or if it is involved in an accident, you will be liable for this amount, the excess. Some suppliers offer additional cover for the excess for an increased price, and some do not.
Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance is a separate product from the rental company’s insurance, and works via reimbursement. So the company may point out that you will still have to pay the excess in case of damage or theft, and that is true. However, rest assured - with Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance you can then lodge a claim to have this reimbursed to you.
Travelling to North America or the Caribbean?
In countries like USA, Canada and the Caribbean the rental company do not insure their vehicle so will require you to purchase the insurance for the whole of their vehicle. The types of cover you can purchase from the rental company are Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI). CDW cover, whilst insuring the vehicle, will often have an excess or deductible, and may not cover damage to the undercarriage, tyres and glass - yes all the things that are most easy to damage! If your rental vehicle suffers damage to these excluded items you would have to pay for the full cost of repair even if you have purchased CDW. However Protection Plus will provide cover of up to AU$5,000/NZ$5,500 for these items which are “missing” from the CDW cover.
What is an excess?
Just like your personal house, contents or car insurance, the rental company's insurer does not insure losses under the excess amount stated in their policy. The excess is the uninsured portion, if you like. For your personal car insurances this is based on many different facts about you and the people who drive your car, so the excess can be quite low as the insurance company know all about you.
For a rental vehicle, where the insurance company doesn’t have the opportunity to get to know all the people who may drive the rental vehicle, they don’t insure quite a large proportion of the damage costs. Often the first $3,500 to $5,000 is uninsured, called the excess.
My rental agreement mentions Single Vehicle Accident and Unsealed Road Excess - what is that?
On your rental agreement, the rental company will outline the maximum excess you may be liable for. Some rental companies apply an additional excess should you have the misfortune of suffering an accident which doesn't involve another vehicle, or occurs on an unsealed public road. This may mean your liability increases from $5,000 to $8,000. Luckily if you have purchased a Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance, the policy is flexible enough to refund these additional charges to you! Please note this applies only to unsealed public roads - private roads are generally not covered by any insurance. Many insurance agreements will also have a list of public roads which are considered too dangerous and not included, so read carefully.
How can I protect myself from high excess charges?
You can elect to purchase an excess reimbursement insurance. This can be bought from the rental company supplier or as an independent cover like Airport Rentals Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance, which will reimburse you for the final damage costs you are charged by the rental company . This includes not only charges for repairs to the vehicle but also for loss of use (demurrage) and/or claims processing fees the rental company may charge you, up to $1,000.00. Having this cover is a great way to put your mind at ease as it means you are almost entirely protected.
Will I be covered for Third Party Liability?
With Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance, yes. If, in the course of using the rental vehicle, you are responsible for damage to another person’s vehicle, you will probably be charged an excess by your rental company. No need to worry - if you have selected our policy you will be reimbursed this charge.
However, like any insurance, each excess protection type insurance is different, if you elect to take another company’s product, please ensure you read the policy wording to ensure damage you may cause to others vehicles is covered.
Can I trust this cover?
Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance policy is underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, the oldest continuously active insurance marketplace in the world, and brought to you by AWN (Australian Warranty Network). Whichever policy you elect to purchase, ensure it is underwritten by a reputable company. There will be reference to the financial stability of the insurer – usually the Standard and Poor’s rating.
Some rental suppliers may insist that Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance is not valid, and you should buy their excess cover instead - often it is more expensive! As long as you are prepared to pay the excess before it is reimbursed, you have no obligation to purchase their own excess cover (although if renting in North America or the Caribbean, you should ensure that you have CDW as mentioned above). As the rental supplier has no association with the Protection Plus, they may not know how it works.
What is the benefit in choosing an excess reimbursement policy from Airport Rentals compared to one with the supplier?
Airport Rentals offer an Excess Cover which is often cheaper than that offered by the rental company. In addition, although it is an independent cover provided by a reputable insurer, we, at Airport Rentals, are able to step in on your behalf should any difficulties arise and use our strong relationship with both the rental company and the insurer. We can be your independent advocate should you need one, a valuable thing to have when it comes to insurance matters.
What happens if I have an accident or my rental car is damaged?
Most importantly - are you and your passengers ok? If you are unsure how to seek medical attention please contact your travel insurer or rental company. In some countries, and some situations, you may also need to contact the police – your rental company with their local knowledge will be able to advise you.
If your car is damaged, or you have damaged someone else’s car with the rental vehicle, your rental company will deduct an excess or deductible amount from your credit card when you return the car to the rental depot. Once this has happened, if you have chosen to take out a Protection Plus Excess Refund Insurance policy you can make your claim for reimbursement.
How do I claim for my excess to be reimbursed after I have paid it?
Simply visit the claims portal, where you will be able to submit your claim and all supporting documents online. You will be able to liaise with the claims handler, add documents and view the progress of your claim at any stage. Once all the documentation in support of your claim is received, your reimbursement will be paid directly to your bank account. To ensure the integrity of the claims process, our designated claims handlers are independent of the rental company, and overseen by an advocate employed by Airport Rentals who represents your interests - all good news for you as a customer.
We hope that the above information is helpful to you in deciding how best to cover yourself when renting a car. Safe driving!