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My wife and I intend to spend 2 weeks in Australia and to rent a car for most of that period. We will be travelling in the country between Sydney - Canberra - blue mountains - Sydney. We do not expect to be travelling anywhere expected to be overly rugged (and rental car agreements prohibit any unsealed road travel apart from short sections) but Australia being Australia 'anything can happen'.

On reading the fine print of the hire agreements of even the top comprehensive insurance cover along with all available waivers, offered by companies we have looked into, I find that you are not covered at all for underbody damage or immersion. Some don't cover roll over, windscreen breakage and tyres. Apparently 'comprehensive' has a different meaning in Oz?

[Relevantish aside: Last year we hired a Britz camper in Melbourne via a 3rd party re-renter. (Most Britz vans get rented that way - cheaper than Britz - you actually deal with Britz and never meet the "renter'. We drove it to Alice Springs via various interesting places. They offered comprehensive no-surprises insurance, no excess etc. I read the fine print. Single vehicle roll-over damage was excluded. I asked. Oh yes, you can have that for xxx extra. NO mention on their site or anywhere. We asked how many single vehicle roll overs they had. "Oh - maybe 4 to 6 a month - the vans tend to get caught in crosswinds." We took the extra cover.]

At least one independent company offers "comprehensive excess cover" but in the list of extras that they do offer they do not mention immersion and when we contact them for clarification they seem to lose the ability to understand English.

We do not intend to immerse the car, damage the underbody, roll it, damage its tyres or break its windscreen. Except for the last we've not managed anything on that list in a rental car in many decades of occasional hire. [Descending blue mountains, full seal, left (curbside) lane - bang - no windscreen]. But if any of those things happens while we are behaving lawfully and sensibly, and in Oz they are not absolutely unlikely, we don't want an unexpected bill for $5,000 to $30,000, as is potentially possible.

Question: What we'd like is a straight forward, no hidden now-you-pay-for-a-whole-new-car surprises comprehensive insurance policy at a rate that is sensible given our record and experience. Any suggestions or comments.


One only company whose fine print I read had a clause that required you to pay full daily rental at full rate including surcharges which would be irrelevant (eg 2nd driver, GPS if hired etc) for all days a car was off the road being repaired. Not covered by excess. Bye.

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    What "fine print of the rental agreement" have your reviewed? You don't mention a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) or Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). Those are often separate from the normal rental agreement. – alx9r Aug 3 '15 at 14:21
  • @alx9r Edited. After ALL available waivers etc. Put it in a Billabong for any reason and you'll be VERY sorry. – Russell McMahon Aug 3 '15 at 14:57
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    Well we don't really do recommendations but the UK American Express Platinum Card car insurance benefit covers everything worldwide, except you being sued by the other passengers. The card does come with an eye-watering £450 annual fee though: "If Your rental vehicle is stolen or damaged, the Insurer will pay any amounts You are responsible for under the rental agreement, including the excess. This will apply whether or not You are responsible for the accident. You will be paid no more than the value of the rental vehicle up to US$/􏰂75,000 in respect of any one accident or occurrence." – Calchas Aug 3 '15 at 16:23
  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/a/27343/9009 – JonathanReez Aug 19 '15 at 17:43
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Having done this a number of times myself (and being an Australian living abroad), it will be difficult to find an easy single policy that will provide 'unconditional' cover or excess cover. I can't comment specifically on the UK Amex cover, but I have this also (no UK version) and there are a number of 'fine print' conditions which can be interpreted a number of ways, most of which will leave you with a bill. Pretty sure left this way so insurers have some wiggle room if they deem they need it.

This will sound like an overly generalised statement, however I believe there would be very few policies available that would cover you if the rental car company (or its insurer) deems you are not covered under their own policy. It's basically seeking insurance against a denied insurance claim. If you find one would love to hear about it.

Most supplementary car rental insurance policies (like the Amex one) are designed to cover your excess payment. Meaning that if you have an accident, any excess you pay will be covered, the theory being you pay a less exorbitant premium to manage your risk.

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