Growth of New Insurance Category in Australia

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Over the last 4 years there has been the sprouting of a new category in Australia in the car insurance – car rental industry, that of car rental excess insurance.

Initiated  by Des and Steve Sherlock of Tripcover, at the start of 2012, it now includes some 5 players in the Australian market. They inlcude:

  1. Tripcover – Car Rental Excess Insurance
  2. Allianz Rental Vehicle Excess Cover
  3. Hiccup
  4. Rental Cover
  5. Car Trawler

This category has the potential to eat into the large profits that the car rental companies have been enjoying for decades. What is different about this category is that unlike using
travel insurance or credit cards to hope you are covered for what you think you should be covered for, this car rental excess insurance is designed specifically for  competing head to head with the car rental companies.

The main difference between the insurance product and the car rental companys’ product, is that in the event of an accident you would need to claim with the insurers such as Allianz Global Assistance, QBE, whereas if you use the more expensive car rental companies waiver (CDW) they handle any damage issues.

And by expensive we mean very expensive. The car rental companies waiver can cost as much if not more than the rental per day with the car rental excess insurance supplied by Tripcover coming in as low as $5.60 per day.

The category has seen amazing growth over the last 4 years with estimates that some
$12M in sales in the last financial year, from these companies. This represents about 200,000 policies sold out of 6.5M rentals in Australia per year or around of 3% of the market so far.

It is predicted that by 2020 the car rental excess insurance market in Australia will be 10% of the car rental market, worth $38M.

Comparison of Credit Card, Standard Travel Insurance and Dedicated Rental Insurance


When renting a car in Australia or New Zealand, it is very important to have quality insurance coverage for the vehicle. You have several options available, and by comparing and contrasting the different types of insurance, you can have a better idea of what you might need.

Credit Card

Many times, the credit cards you already have in your wallet will actually have collision coverage included on them. If you choose the right credit card to pay for the rental, you could actually receive coverage with zero deductible, or at least a very low deductible. This is quite different from the high cost of insurance through the car rental companies. The right card has the potential to provide coverage for any of the costs for which you might be liable, such as damage to the car, or even a theft.

There are two issues consumers should keep in mind when using this method of coverage for their rental vehicles.

  1. Check your credit card’s fine print related to rental car coverage exceptions. Often credit cards only cover the rental company’s standard CDW inclusions. This can mean things like windscreen, tyres, undercarriage and hail damage for example, are not included. As a rule of thumb, if the fine print does not say that these items are included in coverage, then safer to assume they are not, and then consider using a different credit card or another method of coverage.
  2. Secondly it can be a hassle to deal with the credit card companies in the advent of a claim.

Still, given the amount that you could possibly save in the event of an accident, it does make sense at least to consider utilizing credit card coverage for the rental.

Make sure that your credit card company offers this type of coverage, as some do and some do not. Look through the policies regarding the coverage it offers, and make sure it is applicable in Australia or New Zealand – or any country you might be visiting for that matter.

Standard Travel Insurance Cover

In some cases, you may also have collision coverage available through your travel company. If you buy a travel insurance policy for your vacation through many companies in Australia and New Zealand, you will have the option of adding on insurance for your car rentals. However, it is important to make sure that the amount of excess coverage is high enough (at least $4000) and check the fine print for exclusions. Similar to credit card cover, travel insurance often only covers the rental company’s standard damage and CDW. For example when renting with Thrifty the standard damage does not include windscreen, undercarriage, single vehicle accidents and hail damage. In this case if your travel insurance only covers standard damage, then it won’t be enough to cover these items.

Dedicated Rental Insurance

Of course, there’s always the option of buying your rental insurance right through the car rental company. This is something they will actually encourage you to do. It’s a simple solution since you can do it right at the counter. However, that does not necessarily mean it is the best solution. The cost of the insurance through the company is expensive, and could be close to the cost of the rental itself, which could double your overall expenditure. When you buy insurance through the rental company, you should not think that it will automatically cover the entire cost of damage or theft. Look at what you’re deductible or excess will be. It can be in the thousands in many cases and often you need to buy the premium coverage option to be fully covered and reduce your excess to zero.

Dedicated Car Rental Reimbursement Insurance

A newer and lesser known alternative to credit cards, travel insurance and insurance direct with rental companies, is car rental reimbursement insurance.  It works very similar to the rental company’s cover, however it costs significantly less, as low as $6.77 per day for a seven day rental, and can be purchased independent of the rental company. This mean that if you damage the rental car, the rental company will still deduct the applicable excess amount from your credit card, however if you have purchased a reimbursement policy, then you receive a refund within 10 days of the claim being made, provided you have driven the car within terms and conditions of the rental contract.

Australia first car rental reimbursement cover provider is, which offers such cover for Australian resident travelling in Australia and around the world, as well as cover to international visitors to Australia. A rental car insurance for New Zealand residents is also available. The products are created and managed in partnership with Allianz Global Assistance.

Now you have real choice

Take the time to research all of your options for your car rental insurance, and then choose the one that makes the best financial and coverage sense for you.

Six Ways To Save $$$ On Your Xmas Rental Car

  1. Book Early: Firstly, save by booking your rental car two months ago, sorry 🙂 If you leave it any longer you will get really stuck, so book ASAP. At least you will know this for next holiday season.
  2. Use comparison sites: like , and and you are bound to get the best rates.
  3. Off Airport Rentals: Don’t get the rental at the airport as there are airport loading fees and generally the rates are more expensive.
  4. City Versus Suburbs: Check out  the rates suburb by suburb as you can sometimes get better deals outside the city centre locations.
  5. Standalone Car Rental Excess: Don’t take up the car rental companies’ offer to reduce your deductibles or excess liability, more commonly called CDW (collision Damage Waiver) This can nearly double your rental. Use standalone car rental excess reduction sites like . Their cover starts at around $9 per day and reduces down to around $5 per day over 15 days and covers ALL incidences including windscreens, single vehicle accidents, overhead damage etc. Use your AU or NZ Frequent Flyer number for a further 10%.
  6. Discount Codes. Look out for discount codes like this one:  47684365   This will give you a 15% discount with Europcar, for example:

With Code:e1
Without code:

What One Person Thinks of the Car Rental Industry

Confusion Reigns

Confusion Reigns

I was speaking with J. Bird on the phone the other day about excess cover and the car rental companies generally and he came up with this quote that I agreed with and hopefully, with a bit of help from Allianz Global Assistance Australia we can overcome it.


“If someone had set out to design a business system that would piss people off they could not have done a better job than what the car rental companies have come up with”
J. Bird

Time for a change I reckon. I have been working in this business of car rental excess insurance (deductible or CDW) for two years now and am still trying to get my head around what the car rental companies cover and don’t cover as part of their $3300.

For example Thrifty Australia have an excess of $3300 but on top of that they have
a single vehicle accident (SVA) of $2200 if you take a rental from their non-metro depots. So does that mean that their excess is $5500 and not $3300 in this case??

Thrifty SVA

There are some 6 major car rental companies (on Australian airports) and each one have idiosyncratic clauses in their rental agreements and terms & conditions that totally leave their customers flabbergasted and confused. (granted, Redspot/Sixt seems to be cleaning up its act)

More Confusion with AVIS T&Cs
I once spent an hour emailing back and forth with the AVIS help desk, which was very prompt, I must say, but all I wanted to know was if a windscreen would be included in their $3300 excess for their standard liability. After 4 exchanges I was not really any clearer and to tell the truth I still could not tell you for sure if our excess insurance covers windscreen damage with AVIS.

I am doing some research on what liability I have if I rent a car from Avis.
If i do not take out any additional cover for a small car what does your standard liability cover? ie are Windscreens, tyres and lights covered and what about single vehicle accidents?

All our vehicles regardless of size come with automatic insurance – Loss Damage WaiverUpon payment of the agreed excess which is usually $2650 plus taxes, you are covered for all damage to the vehicle as well as third party property, provided you have acted in accordance with the terms of rental.  (copy attached)Things which are not covered are listed in section 8.3 as follows :

8.3 Additional amounts payable: In addition to Clause 8.2, You must always pay to Avis the following costs and fees:
(a) the cost of repairing any:(i) Overhead Damage or Underbody Damage;
(ii) water damage to the Vehicle;
(iii) damage to the Vehicle or to the property of any third party caused
by a breach of clause 3, 4.1 or 5;
(iv) damage to a tyre or an Accessory not attributable to normal wear and tear; and
(v) damage to the Vehicle or to the property of any third party caused deliberately or recklessly by You, any other driver of the Vehicle or any passenger carried during the Rental Period;
(b) the cost of replacing, if lost or stolen, an Accessory; and
(c) if You have breached the Rental Agreement, a per day loss of revenue
fee based on the actual and estimated downtime of the Vehicle.

Hello again. Can I confirm that Overhead and Underbody damage means Windscreens and wheels and tyres etc?

Please refer to the attached under the heading :

Overhead Damage’ means damage to the Vehicle or property of any third
party caused by the Vehicle coming into contact with anything above the top of the door seal and the top of the front and back windscreens; and

Underbody Damage’ means damage to the Vehicle caused by the Vehicle coming into contact with anything below the bottom of the door seal and the bottom of the front and rear bumper bars.

Thanks again P for the info but I am sorry to be a pain but can you just tell me if the windscreen would be covered as part of your standard liability?

The windscreen is covered provided you pay the agreed excess. So for example, if your agreed excess is $2650 and the new windscreen costs $165, you only pay $165.

My Conclusion
I think it is time for a change, time to help rental customers in Australia and New Zealand to get their head around their liability when hiring a car. I am hoping, with a little help from Allianz, Tripcover’s underwriter and Allianz Global Assistance, who we come under management from, we can come up with a NoButs plan that will take the confusion and uncertainty out of the car rental industry or at least reduce it.

Who said that Car Rental Excess Insurance can’t be sexy?

iPhone and Android apps are Now Available

Yahooo! After much delay our iPhone and Android apps are now available for free download at the iTune and Google Play stores. Simply go to iTunes and Google play sites and search for Tripcover.

View on iTunes website

View on Google Play website

Now, when you are at the rental desk you can decide to by-pass the car rental companies expensive excess reduction offer (between $22 to $27) and simply use the Tripcover app  to cover your rental, from $9.30 per day, while you are heading to pick up your car.

Thrifty, The Smiling Assassin and Debit Cards

I hired a car today from Thrifty.

Of course I used Tripcover to cover my excess and reduce it to $0 for $13.60 per day.

When I got to the Thrifty rental desk I was told that if I wanted to use my MC debit card that they would need to take the $3300 excess out of my account right now. Otherwise I was going to have to take out their very expensive $27 or $33 excess cover. I told the guy that I did not have $3300 in my account and he simply smiled and said “I knew that, as most people usually don’t”. Ca-Ching!! His eyes lit up with $  $ signs.

I told him that I already had insurance with Tripcover and he smiled again and said his hands are tied. Finally When I told him that I thought that this was outrageous he simply smiled again and said ” I know!”

I think Thrifty should make their policy clear with regards debit cards as the car rental company knows that once we get to the desk we have little or no choice at that point.

PS. When I returned the car I pointed out that their terms and conditions on their website
did not indicate this new policy. I was told that it was so new that it was not on their website. Go figure! I am supposed to know about their new policy by rolling up to their desk and get informed on the spot. I think this is why the ACCC has targeted the car rental industry because of this type of treatment of their customers. Although they were apologetic this time, I will be calling their head office and requesting a refund of my $27 extra insurance that I was forced to purchase, with no mention in their T&C.

PPS: Yeah! I got a response from head office and all is good, I think.

Good afternoon Mr Sherlock and thank you for taking the time to get in touch with us.

As a Blue Chip member no bond is payable from you at any time.  There has clearly been an issue with our staff member on front counter misinterpreting an internal directive and I hope that you can accept my apologies for any confusion and any pressure to reduce your damage liability against your wishes.  I have today directed our accounts department to refund $27.94 back to your debit card.

Once again, I do apologise for any inconvenience.

Kind regards


Sherlock Cracks the Case

Smart Traveller article from The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald on Tripcover
July 7, 2012

Sherlock Cracks the Case
Desmond Sherlock is a thorn in the side of Australian car-rental companies. About six months ago, he started, the first insurer to specialise in car-rental excess insurance.

Car Rental Excess Insurance

“Our premiums are about a third cheaper than what you get with the rental companies,” Sherlock says. “Their insurance rates are usually from $22 to $27 a day to reduce the excess to $300. Our rates start at $9.30 a day.”

Sherlock says that some car-rental policies have excesses up to $6000. Of 6.8 million annual car rentals in Australia, between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of people opt to buy excess reduction.

He agrees many travel-insurance policies also provide car rental excess reduction, but claims his company (managed by Allianz Global Assistance) is the only specialist in Australia and soon hopes to offer an annual policy and expand to New Zealand.


Some Complaints from Car Renters

Car renters struggle to give up old tricks

What is it about the car hire industry that makes it a candidate for the most poorly behaved corporate sector in Australia?

Over a decade or more up until the middle of last year, it seemed to me the car renting business had become virtually incapable of telling the truth about the real cost of renting a car.

The headline rate that appeared in advertisements was usually about half what you’d be up for when you added all the asterisked charges, then put petrol in the tank. Heaven help you if you took the car back with a tank that needed topping up at the renter’s sky-high prices
Read more:  October 4, 2010


· I booked a car online for one day in Sydney for a fleeting day trip to be at a special occasion for an old friend. The email receipt I received for my reservation mentioned an additional fee for ‘excess reduction’ on top of what I’d already paid for excess cover, but did not mention what the excess would be if I did not pay the fee. I found out when I arrived to pick up the car that it was a whopping $3500 excess which I think is a risk few people would be willing to wear. So in fact my rental for the day was $30 more than I was quoted PLUS an additional airport fee of $18 which was also not mentioned along with the “airport concession fee recovery” of $11 quoted in the receipt. No way would I have rented a car for the day if I’d known how expensive it would be.

October 04, 2010, 10:46AM


Read the contract. Be aware of your responsibilities. Ignore the super deals advertised and negotiate the full price at the counter. Use your phone/camera take photos of vehicle before you leave for damage reference. Would you lend your brand new car to a complete stranger without any conditions for $50 a day?? No, so cover your arse and read the fine print.

Barney  Melb
October 04, 2010, 10:47AM


If you have insurance, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about excessive charges for damage. Take a video camera and do a once-over of the car to identify any marks and report any that aren’t on the paperwork before you leave the car park. Other than that, there isn’t too much that can go wrong. If you forget to fill up before returning the car, it’s hard to blame the rental company. The fuel gauge will indicate full for a while after you fill up.

Date and time
October 04, 2010, 10:52AM

Read more:

Welcome to Tripcover’s Car Rental Excess Insurance Blog

Welcome to Tripcover’s blog! Car hire customers are starting to realise that no longer do they have to pay between $22 and  $27 to reduce their excess on their car rental.
Using Tripcover you can save up to 60% on the car rental companies’ rates for exactly the same cover. Tripcover is the first company in Australia that exclusively sell car rental excess insurance and the car rental companies don’t like us!

Why not take a look and get a quick quote at and you will be pleasantly surprised.