Rental cars and scooters: what you need to know

Posted Date: 04 January 2018
Rental cars scooters

Renting a vehicle is a great way to get around overseas, especially if you’re planning multiple day trips to different locations. Here are our tips to help you with renting a vehicle when overseas, to help make your experience a pleasant one.

What you’re covered for

When it comes to hiring rental cars and scooters for your overseas holiday, we are often asked what exactly is covered under the TravelCare policy. If you hire a rental vehicle overseas, your agreement will likely include insurance, which will cover your vehicle in the event of an accident or theft.  

In the event of an accident or theft, any damage to the vehicle or other vehicle that may be involved should be covered by the insurance. However, there will still be an excess amount that you will be responsible for. Provided you meet the terms and conditions of the TravelCare policy, (i.e. you’ve followed road rules and aren’t under the influence when driving), you’ll be able to claim that excess back from us, up to the amount of $5,000 per policy.  

What you should know

It seems obvious, but stick to all local driving laws and make sure you’re completely familiar with them before driving on any overseas roads. Remember, some countries have different give way laws, speed limits, and plenty also drive on the other side of the road. If you borrow a car from a friend or family member, it’s important to know that it won’t be classed as a rental vehicle and you won’t be covered under the policy for it.

Under the TravelCare policy, a rental vehicle is considered to be a standard model motor vehicle or motor home designed to carry no more than 8 people including the driver, or a moped or motorcycle with a maximum engine capacity of 200cc, that you’ve rented from a licensed motor vehicle rental agency. You need a valid licence to drive the vehicle too, so check well in advance in case you need to apply for an international permit before you head away.

It’s also important to stick to vehicles you’re comfortable with driving. This means, if you don’t drive a manual car at home then stick to automatic vehicles overseas; or if you don’t have experience riding a scooter, it’s not a good idea to try for the first time in a foreign country, on unfamiliar roads. If you’re planning to hire a campervan or RV and you haven’t driven one before, ensure it’s one that you can drive on a car licence and ask the rental company for a lesson if you’re unsure of anything.

Some other important things to remember are:

  • Always wear your seatbelt, even if it’s not a legal requirement of the country you’re in.
  • You need to hold a valid drivers licence for both the type of vehicle and the country and you should carry it with you anytime you’re driving.
  • Never drink and drive, regardless of the local law. The TravelCare policy won’t cover you if you do. Be aware that many countries also have open-bottle laws, where it’s illegal to have any open bottles of alcohol in the vehicle at all.
  • Never drive a vehicle under the influence of drugs.
  • If you need a GPS, hire one from the rental agency instead of using your phone. It will have more up to date local maps, plus it is illegal to use a cellphone while driving in many countries.
  • If you’re travelling with kids and you need a carseat, make sure the rental company knows this ahead of time. That way, you don’t have to worry about whether they’ll be available.
  • Don’t pick up hitch hikers, even if your rental agreement doesn’t specifically prohibit it. Your safety is important, and picking up strangers is risky.
  • If riding a scooter, wear a helmet at all times. Even if it’s not a legal requirement in the country you’re in, you must still wear a helmet. After all, your head is priceless!
  • Make sure you stay on formed or paved roadways and carparks. Going bush will mean your insurance is invalidated.

If you need to make a rental car claim

You can make life easier for yourself when picking up your rental vehicle by simply stopping to check it over for any existing damage and taking photos where necessary. It’s also a good idea to check the tyres, that they’re up to pressure and that they have enough tread left – especially if you’re hiring a scooter. If you’re not comfortable with the tyres, request a different vehicle.

Make sure you point out any damage to the agent on initial inspection, so they can take note in the vehicle file. That way, you can ensure you’re not charged for any damage to the vehicle that you’re not responsible for. Having photos of the vehicle when you pick it up can also make things easier if you do have an accident and need to make an insurance claim with the rental company, as you’ll have proof of exactly what damage occurred in the accident.

In order to submit your claim online, you’ll need to provide us with some documentation: 

  • Confirmation of who the registered drivers were on the rental vehicle.
  • Documentation which confirms the damage liability excess on the rental vehicle.
  • Documentation to confirm confirms how much you were charged for the damage.

The first 2 bullet points above can usually be confirmed by providing a copy of your rental vehicle agreement. 

With some rental vehicle agencies, it is standard practice to charge the full damage liability excess, regardless of the level of damage that has occurred to the vehicle.  If the cost of repairs is less than the amount you have paid, they will refund the difference to you. Just be warned – rental car agencies can take weeks to provide this.

If you do get charged the full damage liability excess, we’ll also require the following:

  • a copy of the final repair report, showing the final cost of repairs; or
  • confirmation of any refunds received (such as a copy of your bank statement showing the refund)

Hiring a rental vehicle can be a great way to enjoy your holiday and gives you the freedom to get from A to B at your leisure. Remember to use your common sense and be careful, as you would with anything else, and you’ll have a great time. If anything unexpected does happen, our Emergency Assistance team are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on +61 2 9191 1180.


Related articles

Best road trips

Road tripping around the world

The world's best road trips are all about the journey. We've selected our favourites and included a few tips. Read more

Weird driving laws

7 of the world’s weirdest road rules

Don’t get caught out by driving laws when you’re travelling. Here are seven of the world’s weirdest road rules. Read more

Transport in Bali

Transport in Bali

There are many ways to travel around Bali and at little expense to your budget. Read our guide to find out more. Read more

TravelCare is issued by Southern Cross Benefits Limited ABN 99 133 401 939, AFS License 331058 trading as Southern Cross Travel Insurance ®. We are a signatory to the General Insurance Code of Practice and the Financial Ombudsmen Service (FOS) Australia.

As an Australian financial services licensee (AFSL), SCTI is authorised to deal in, and provide, general advice on travel insurance products. As we are unaware of your specific needs, financial objectives, and circumstances, we highly recommend you take time to read the Combined Financial Services Guide (FSG), Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), including Policy Wording before buying this product, to ensure that our travel insurance product is right for you.

Copyright © 2018 Southern Cross Benefits Limited