Tips on self-drive travel and rental car insurance

While we Hongkongers can enjoy the convenient public transportation system here every day, it can be more challenging if we were to travel around without a car in foreign cities. Thanks to the increasing availability of cars and the advent of technologies such as global position systems and smartphones, gone are the days when we had to join tour groups and wake up at 6 am to explore a new city.

Instead, it is very common nowadays to go on a self-drive tour where you can travel at your own pace and truly enjoy the sense of freedom. Nonetheless, even with help from the latest gadgets, driving in an exotic locale can still be nerve-wracking and challenging. If you haven’t secured proper insurance coverage before you get behind the wheel, your journey could end up a financial disaster.

To this end, our specialists at Kwiksure have prepared this article to give you a few tips on self-drive travel and rental car insurance.

Risks of self-drive travel

Serious traffic accidents involving Hongkongers during self-drive trips are not entirely unheard of. For instance, a Hong Kong tourist was sentenced to four years in jail for dangerous driving after a crash in Queensland in which two men were killed. In this subsection, we are going to take a closer look at the dangers of self-drive travel.

Adverse weather

You may be faced with adverse weather conditions different than those in Hong Kong, such as sleet, snow, and hail. As such, it is important to check the weather forecast beforehand, and apply precautionary measures such as testing your brakes when you first get on the road during snow and turning on fog light when driving through heavy fog.

Unfamiliar roads

While GPS can indeed provide with real-time guidance, it is still imperative that you do your homework and familiarize yourself with the routes that you are going to take since GPS directions may not be 100% reliable, especially in places with bad signal reception.

Different traffic rules

In Hong Kong, the steering wheel is on the right side of the car and traffic drives on the left side of the road. However, in countries where the steering wheel is on the left side of the vehicle such as Canada, France, and Germany, the traffic drives on the right side of the road. Moreover, different countries have their own specific traffic rules and speed limits. For example, you can drive at 140 km/h on Bulgarian motorways, whereas you cannot exceed 112 km/hour on British motorways.

Some useful advice before you hit the road…

Do not overfill your schedule

Possibly because most Hongkongers face tremendous stress at work and bear the heavy burden of mortgage payments, once they get the chance to travel they want to make the most of their time and fill their schedule to the brim. They may drive for hours without rest (while in Hong Kong they'll only drive for a maximum of one to two hours), or even go over speed limits to stick to their timetables. However, poor time management will affect drivers’ performance and is likely to cause accidents. Take a break or share your driving responsibilities when necessary.

Make bookings in advance

During the peak seasons, there will be very few cars available. Drivers sometimes have no choice but to pick an unfamiliar vehicle.

Stock up with plenty of snacks and drinks

Purchase plenty of snacks and drinks so that you won’t have to look for a shop or a restaurant midway. Snacks can also help you regain focus and keep your energy levels up.

Things to note when securing insurance for rental cars

Travel insurance is not enough

You should note that most travel insurance products do not cover the medical expenses and property loss of third-parties in traffic accidents. So you should purchase a separate rental car insurance on your own or through your rental car company.

Read the rental agreement carefully

Before you hit the road, you should check the T&Cs in the agreement with the car rental company to ascertain your insurance coverage. Some may include the car insurance premium and others may not. You should also double check to ensure that the compensation is enough to cover the potential casualties or damages. If any mishap happens and your insurance is not enough to cover the relevant costs, you will have to pay out-of-pocket.

Coverage of rental car insurance

If you’ve rented the car through a standard, legal car rental company, they should have acquired basic car insurance, which covers personal injuries, traffic accidents, and third-party property protection. Below are the common coverages of rental car insurance:

Liability benefits

This type of coverage offers protection against the medical expenses and property loss of third-parties (excluding the car you rent) due to traffic accidents.

Personal injury benefits

This type of benefit covers medical expenses in the event of a traffic accident that you are not at fault for causing.

Personal property

This type of benefit covers loss or stolen contents in the insured rental car.

Collision damage waiver

Also known as CDW, LDW, or DW, this type of benefit protects you against the claims of reimbursements from car rental companies should accidents occur. As with other ordinary car insurance products, CDW excludes drink-driving and driving beyond the insured countries.

Contact Kwiksure for more questions

Independent travel is indeed easier than ever before. However, you should be responsible and mindful at all times and don’t risk the lives of yourself and your passengers. Contact Kwiksure today for any insurance-related questions, an obligation-free quote, or a plan comparison!

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