Can you tell me where it hurts?

Toyota Yaris YR

Doctors are generally in the business of relieving pain and it comes as no surprise that we also try to avoid it whenever we can. That’s why leaving that epidural in after an operation makes so much sense and why not let the patient adjust their own analgesia with a pump.

So, aware of the axiom about an ounce of prevention I’ve been working hard to avoid the pain and pitfalls associated with renting a car lately.

Consumer magazines could devote a whole edition to stories of customers being hit by car rental companies for repairs to pre-existing damage and most renters won’t find out about the debit on their credit card until they’re safely back at home. The Ford Territory I rented last year in New Zealand was a case in point.

There was a massive stellate stone chip in my windscreen which wasn’t recorded on the vehicle condition report and it isn’t unknown for unscrupulous hire car agents to charge successive renters for the same piece of damage again, and again, and again.

With so many dangers for renters even without having an accident it would seem to make sense to be fully insured. But, as hard as I try I just haven’t been able to figure out all the fine print that car rental companies use in their policies and consequently I always seem to be under-covered.

For starters the documents you sign when you pick up your vehicle aren’t downloadable on their web-sites. After a long plane trip with tired kids I’ve been known to sign anything to get on the road. Wouldn’t it be nice to read the contract beforehand in the comfort of your surgery.

Then there’s the fact that rates that include CDW (collision damage waiver) now seem to have an excess as well. For most companies it’s about $3,300 (ouch). So much for being called a waiver.

But the latest scam since November 1st 2006 is the extra excess of $2,200 if you have a single vehicle accident. Yes, if you can’t point the finger at someone else who caused the damage you could be up for the first $5,500 of any repairs. That could make being bumped by a shopping trolley at Woolies a rather expensive outing and I don’t know of anyone who has a $5,500 excess on their own comprehensive car insurance.

To avoid the pain you’d think it would be worth taking out the extra insurance companies offer, but that can be very expensive. For example let’s do the maths on a Toyota Yaris which is advertised for $30 per day. Somehow this jumps to $39.38 per day when you book it because car companies seem to get away with not advertising prices including taxes whilst airlines aren’t allowed to do that any more. The good news is that you can be fully covered with zero excess for a measly extra $30.91 per day to take the total cost of the Yaris up to $70 per day or more than double the figure you saw in the ad.

Savvy doctors will know that it’s much cheaper to cancel the insurance excess by taking out ordinary travel insurance which can cost as little as $10 a day for a whole family and covers everything else that might happen to your family except for terrorism acts. But wouldn’t you know it that back in the fine print there’s a surcharge of 18% for picking up the car at Sydney’s airport and that adds another $990 to the excess which isn’t covered.

So if you have any anecdotes or advice about renting a car please feel free to send them to me. It might help to ease the pain I feel in my own hip pocket nerve.

Safe motoring,
Dr Clive Fraser

For: Safe and economical.

Against: Centre-mounted speedo.

This car would suit: Struggling graduate-entry medical students.

This entry was posted in Toyota. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • About

    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.