So, you’ve picked up the keys for your hired car from the Europcar Car Rental desk (or any other car rental company for that matter). You vaguely recall the rental agent taking you through all the various rental clause options and documents, and you set off to your destination. What a breeze, it was all so conveniently hassle-free, and you drifted through the pick-up as though in a daydream.

And then, BANG… you are hit from behind as you sit at the robot contemplating the day ahead. What now?

Reality sets in quickly, but what exactly are your expectations of a car rental? Who’s responsible for what?

It’s at this point that you would probably be kicking yourself for daydreaming instead of actively listening to the terms and options of your rental contract. The questions fly in from all angles. What happens when you crash a rental car? Is there sufficient insurance in place to cover the costs? Will you have to pay crippling waivers?

Here’s where it gets tricky. When you signed the car rental agreement, you weren’t actually signing for insurance. You were signing for responsibility waivers. Because car hire companies are not financial services providers, they cannot offer you insurance.

The good news

There’s no need to panic! While responsibility waivers are not insurance, they work in a very similar way. When renting a vehicle, make sure that your contract includes theft protection waivers and collision damage waivers.

These waivers are designed to limit the financial impact on the client (that’s you) in the event of an accident. There’s a catch though – the waiver only does this if there’s no suspicion of negligence. Negligence in a car rental situation is considered as:

  • Texting while driving
  • Talking on a cell phone while driving (unless you are using a hands-free device on speakerphone)
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Road rage
  • Ignoring the road rules (such as driving through a red robot, overtaking on a solid line, or stopping in a loading zone, and so on)

You will need to check your unique car rental agreement to see what they define as “negligence”.

SAVRALA (South African Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association) has recommended guidelines for car rental companies to follow in the country. Most leading car hire companies, including Europcar Car Rental adhere to SAVRALA guidelines. This means that you can expect for your best interests to be protected by the waivers in place, as long as you haven’t behaved in a negligent manner while driving the rental car.

You only need to worry if the cause of the crash was as a result of your own negligence. In such an instance, you will be liable for the full cost of damages. If the car is a write-off, you will have to pay for the replacement of the vehicle.

What to expect if you crashed the rental car without being negligent?

If you happened to have a crash and weren’t behaving negligently at the time,your collision waivers would kick in. This means that you are only responsible for a limited amount of the cost, as indicated in your rental agreement. You should have a copy of this in the rental car with you, so haul it out and give it a look over. You might be pleasantly surprised that the amount is affordable, albeit an unwanted expense.

Be a responsible renter

Whether you are hiring a car from Europcar Car Rental or any of the other leading car hire companies in the country, you need to be a responsible renter. Here’s how:

  • Always drive cautiously and obey the road rules carefully.
  • Minimise distractions while driving. Turn off the radio, turn the volume on your GPS on so that you can listen instead of reading, and ensure the kids are safely buckled up in the back seat.
  • If you get lost or miss a turn, keep driving until you see a parking lot or a garage so that you can safely stop the car and consult with your GPS or map.
  • Avoid using non-main routes.

Conclusion

The only way to truly avoid the high costs associated witha car crash in a rented car is to ensure that you are covered for potential loss and damages and that you are ultra-cautious on the road. When driving in a new and unfamiliar area, it is natural to be confused and distracted. Do everything you can to pay attention and get to your destination safely.

Are you looking for a car hire company that offers collision and theft waivers that protect your interests? Use our online browser to search and compare prices from leading car rental companies. Once you have made your booking with Europcar Car Rental or any other leading company you can manage your details online. Safe travels!