Friday, 6 December 2013

Read the small print and SAVE BIG (A car rental story)

The background:

Au! O!   (not my pic)

The German word for car is Auto. Germans like to say that it starts with Au! and ends with Oh!.  Lots of money is spent on anything to do with cars and lots of money is made. Car dealers didn't get their reputation without a reason.  Some may say that car rental people are just as bad.

The history:

When we were here in Hawaii last December, we rented a car through Expedia for 8 days for $300.  When we arrived here and tried to pick up the car, we were told that we had to get insurance for the car. Another $300.  Total for 8 days: US$600.

The steal:

not my pic
This time I tried to do it different and went to the website of that car rental firm with the name borrowed from that beleaguered but doomed little fort in Texas (Stars with A and ends with O ;-). I rented a car on their website for $275 for 13 days (Wow, you start thinking, is that how Expedia makes its money?). When we got here, the truly friendly sales rep pushed a laminated sheet with insurance options in front of me.  When the answer to my question "Which of these are required by law?" was "none", I just pushed the sheet aside and said "Next".  The people in front of me had used their Roadstar status with ICBC in Canada, to apply that insurance to the rental car here in HI.  So I did the same.
Total for 13 days of car: US$275.

not my pic

The catch:

My ICBC car insurance of my car in Vancouver expires today. When still in Vancouver, I had seen this as brilliant financial timing (why have a car insured in Vancouver if I'm not there to drive it?), but now I wish my ICBC insurance would continue a bit longer.  There probably is no way that the US police or even the car rental people here would find out about it, but I will drive to the airport today and buy some car insurance (even though the car is already insured ;-(.

The conclusion:

definitely not my pic
Listen up, all you cheap bastard good drivers: You DO NOT have to buy insurance for rental cars in the US.  Even if your ICBC insurance expires.  Accidents are at your own risk, but the car is already insured by the rental company to be on the road, and YOU DO NOT have to buy insurance from the rental company.  Grandma is along and we decided to get some insurance anyway. Not for damage to the rental car; but third party liability, just in case we hit a doctor and he can't work for a year. That would mean lifetime indebtedness & servitude :-(

Next time I'll make sure my ICBC car insurance does not expire while on a holiday !

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