Travel insurer reveals secret to more affordable road trips

Monday , 19 April 2021 by Alaina McGregor

Some Kiwis have discovered the trick to saving money when hiring a car, as revealed by Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) today, and the leading travel insurer is keen to share the tip with people heading away for a road trip over the school holidays.

One in five claims received by SCTI over the summer months1 were for rental car damage, with broken and chipped windscreens and costly panel scratches topping the list, sparing these customers from taking home an unwanted bill.

The secret to getting a cheaper deal on a hire car, is that purchasing domestic travel insurance is often more cost-effective than paying for the excess reduction directly through a rental car company said SCTI Chief Executive Officer Jo McCauley.

“If someone hires a car and the car is damaged or stolen, an excess is charged to the customer which can be thousands of dollars. If you want to reduce this excess to something more affordable, the rental vehicle company charges an additional daily fee, and this can quickly add up.”

SCTI has calculated that over the school holidays, a customer could pay approximately $129.08* for a 14-day domestic travel insurance policy for two adults aged 40 years-old and two dependent children, which includes cover for their rental vehicle excess.

“We have worked out that when hiring a typical family car over a two-week period, the excess reduction alone could cost over three times what you would pay for a domestic travel insurance policy with SCTI,” added McCauley.

SCTI launched its new domestic travel insurance in August last year to meet local consumer demand in the wake of the pandemic, and give Kiwis peace of mind while on holiday around New Zealand, and it’s proving highly worthwhile to travellers.

The most expensive claim SCTI paid out during the summer period under its rental excess reduction benefit was over $900. The customer returned their rental car with an unexplained scratch on the vehicle, making the $108 they paid for their domestic travel insurance policy a valuable investment.

The second most expensive hire car claim was for more than $800. The customer was driving along a motorway when they encountered roadworks and the windscreen suddenly cracked. The customer paid $56 for their policy which proved to be more cost-effective than having to pay for the windscreen replacement themselves.

“It can be easy for a stone or other road debris to chip or crack a windscreen, and while it may seem insignificant, it can be expensive if it needs to be fixed or replaced. An additional benefit is that that we don’t charge an excess on windscreen damage to hire cars if customers need to make a claim,” said McCauley.

Cover for rental vehicle excess is just one benefit customers receive when taking out domestic travel insurance. Half of claims SCTI paid out during summer were for lost, stolen or damaged personal items and 17 per cent were for changes to journey or cancellations.

The most expensive claim SCTI paid out to a domestic travel insurance policyholder over summer was more than $4,000. This customer needed to cancel his trip after injuring himself before he was due to go on holiday. Other expensive claims SCTI paid included the replacement of two iPads lost at a hotel ($1,500), and to a customer who left their prescription sunglasses on the roof of a rental car and drove away, leaving them behind ($900).



*Calculation based on:

$129.08 – Non-member rate with two adults aged 40 years-old and two dependent children, four days cover ($100 excess selected).

Note: SCTI does not charge an excess under its rental vehicle excess benefit.

1Based on all claims received by Southern Cross Travel Insurance from domestic travel insurance policyholders from 1 December 2020 to 28 February 2021.