As I am a travel consultant, a travel blogger and an extensive traveler myself, I am very aware of the importance of having the right travel cover while traveling, as you never know what can happen, especially abroad.
Car rental travel insurance experience in South Africa
A few years ago, I went to South Africa with 2 friends and we decided to visit two areas: Mpumalanga near Johannesburg and all the beautiful natural game reserves like Kruger Park, and the South as we wanted to see The Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain. What we had really clear was that a car rental was necessary to enjoy the experience. As our preferred car rental company at my work offered us great discounts, I booked two car rentals with them: one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town. So I had everything prepared before we left: travel insurance to cover medical fees, mosquito products, medicines against malaria, etc. so that I knew I was safe while traveling. As of the car rental, my reservation already included all the basic covers like the CDW (Collision Damage Waiver). I also knew that once arriving at the agency, I would need to ask for the Super CDW because even though you have this basic insurance, the cost of the excess in case of an accident is quite high. So as we picked up the vehicle at our first destination, Jo ’burg, that’s exactly what we asked: the SuperCDW! And they added it to our contract so we had to pay an extra fee. All went well and we really enjoyed our time in the North of the country watching the wildlife and the beautiful nature of the canyons and waterfalls. Then we went back to Jo ‘burg, brought back the car, took a plane to Cape Town, and the same thing again. But when we asked for the Super CDW, the car rental agent told us we already had all the covers. I found it strange but I know sometimes it happens, especially in the US. The “LDW” usually includes the cover of the excess as well.
co-pilot renting a car
Road accident while travelling
So one day we went on the road to explore the wine route, and unfortunately, it was raining, the roads were slippery, and a van in front of us lost the garbage it was transporting. The car in front of us suddenly braked and we were not able to brake on time… And that’s when the accident happened… We were not injured and didn’t even need to go to the hospital, just in shock… But our car was completely damaged and the car rental had to provide us with another car. So we continued our week, more cautious than ever, and what was our surprise when we dropped off the car at the end of our trip, and the company claimed the excess of about 1500$ because of the accident! Indeed, the agent didn’t charge us for the Super CDW and as the contracts are almost impossible to read, we didn’t pay attention he was mistaken.
Lesson from my experience
So here is what I learned: don’t trust anyone, not even the so-called experts! Get your excess waiver when you rent a car. And if you don’t pay the extra money, get clarification! If the excess doesn’t say 0.00, then ask for the extra cover! Thankfully, after fighting for over a year with the customer care service of the car rental company, I proved them it was not our mistake. But if I was not a travel agent, they would never refund me the money! So my tip here: check your insurance policy properly!