As much as you don’t want to think about emergency situations – especially on holiday – the information on what to do in the event of an accident is absolutely vital for a New Zealand car hire.
Firstly, do everything you can to avoid an accident.
This means driving at safe speeds (note, this can be below the actual speed limit, as some driving conditions such as rain or ice will require slower speeds) and following all the New Zealand road rules.
One common cause of car accidents is skidding, which is usually caused by heavy acceleration or braking, sudden changes of direction or driving too fast on wet or unsealed roads.
Also, remember if your car has ABS brakes (which is likely, new cars are fitted with these) that you should never pump the breaks in an emergency as this system does the work for you – simply keep the pedal pressed down.
Minor and major accidents
The first thing you should always do is check to see if everyone involved is unhurt.
If anyone is injured, dial New Zealand’s emergency number 111 for an ambulance, and/or the police.
Following that, minor accidents are a case of remaining calm and not appointing or accepting blame – you should leave this to the insurance companies to sort out.
Instead, exchange details with any other drivers involved and any witnesses on the scene. Make sure to swap names, addresses, phone numbers, car registration numbers and insurance company details. If the other driver is uninsured, you will still need to collect all of this information.
If you have a camera, use it to take photos of the scene so long as it is safe to do so.
While not compulsory, it’s an idea to put together a medical safety kit before you embark on your trip. Simple bandages, sterile creams and dressings might just come in handy for smaller injuries.
You won’t always be able to avoid an accident, but you can minimise your risk by making sure you’re not the most dangerous driver on the road.
Before you even get behind the wheel of your car rental, you should be talking to your hire company to make sure you understand what your insurance options are and what you’re liable to pay for in case of an accident.
Remember that breaking the law will invalidate your insurance.
Since ski fields are notoriously slippery and can be more difficult to navigate, you will need to talk to your hire company about purchasing additional snow insurance. If you don’t do this, your usual insurance will be void and you will be required to pay the full amount if you have an accident. Most companies will offer a special deal on this type of insurance during the winter months.
You can also take out excess insurance (collision damage waiver) reduction options by adding a daily fee to your payments, which will reduce your liability in the event of an accident. Many insurance policies will include this and it can even be the cheaper option.
It is important to not only think about which car company you hire from because of the vehicles on offer, but also the insurance policies they have as this will become a major part of any accident you may have with the car or campervan.
If you are unsure about how to handle an emergency situation, the company you choose will have any additional information you need, and will be able to answer any further questions when you pick up your rental.
Avis has a standard insurance policy that includes a loss damage waiver, limiting your liability to $2,915. You can also opt for extras such as excess reduction which can bring your liability down to $330, personal effects and baggage insurance, personal accident insurance or an optional protection package which covers almost everything.
Some of these policies can vary with age, location, vehicle type and rate however, so be sure to speak with them during the hire process.
With a Budget car hire, you will be financially responsible for losses or damages to the vehicles or a third party with a capped fee of $2,750 for most cars. This can be reduced with an optional coverage policy however. Three exceptions where you would be responsible for the entire cost include overhead damage, water damage and underbody damage.
Europcar’s cover includes a fee that will be charged following an accident, but will be reimbursed if it is found that you are not at fault. They offer windscreen, headlights and tyre cover, a loss damage waiver cover, a total protection package, a full protection package, and snow cover.
Thrifty offers cover for the hire car and third parties with a damage recovery fee of $3,300 which can be confirmed when you pick up your vehicle. You can reduce your liability with a premium or ultimate cover policy however.
Hertz also has an excess of $3,300 which can be reduced if you purchase maximum cover or accident excess reduction. They also have a snow policy.