Many enjoy renting cars for road trips across the country. Some rent them for work, and most of us rent them while vacationing. These days we scour discount apps and websites to find the best deals before we’ve even packed our bags. I have been blessed and cursed by spontaneity. Being well planned allows maximum destinations while having an open itinerary lets me roam freely until I get a recommendation from a local.
I was 22 years old (a long time ago) headed on a girls trip to Hawaii. Since I’ve been to Oahu a few times, I wanted to show friends around town without constantly checking public transportation. I remember walking up to the reservation counter of a large rental car company and asking what cars were available for the next few days. They had Jeep Wranglers, Ford Mustangs, PT Cruisers, and Dodge Caravans. Of course we chose the red Wrangler to live out our Sweet Valley High dreams.
As the reservationist went down her list of questions, all I hear are different additional costs such as being under 25 years old and costs for extra miles beyond a certain limit. Then I hear “Would you like to purchase insurance?” A myriad of questions filled my mind with “Does my auto insurance cover the rental?” to “I think this credit card has some protection for rental cars.” Simultaneously I answered, “Yes, please” without even responding to my thoughts.
I enjoy being able to explore more than Waikiki. It’s beautiful and having a car allowed us more time in Waimanalo, North Shore, and Kaneohe. I recommend driving towards North Shore for the lush green forests and Kualoa Ranch. Many will recognize this area since the Polynesian Cultural Center is located there. You must stop at one of the shrimp trucks on the road and cool off by heading over to Matsumoto’s and having tropical shaved ice. Instead of waiting for a shuttle, head east of the island to snorkel at Hanauma Bay. Parking is $1 per vehicle and entrance fee is $7.50 per person. Kids 12 & under, active military, and local residents with Hawaii State ID is free. You will learn about the bay prior to being up close and personal with the marine life.
After dipping our toes in the sand, 20 trips to ABC Store, snorkeling, surfing, and eating our way through the island, we decided to spend a day at Ala Moana Center. This is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii. I remember standing outside of the mall on the ocean side and watching a young couple drive their black Ford Mustang convertible (with the top down) slam right in front of a car fully stopped at a red light. How quickly their gaze at the ocean and laughter turned into fear and horror.
Immediately my head travels to the reservationist asking, “Would you like to purchase insurance?” In this instance everyone was safe and I was concerned the other youngsters may have relied on their auto insurance at home or their credit card to take care of the crash. Hopefully, it all worked out for this couple. I can tell you based on my industry experience that this couple will likely speak with three different insurance claim departments. First is their rental car, their personal auto insurance, and most likely the other party’s insurance. This causes a lot of follow up, delays, and added administration costs (rental car company) that you’re responsible for.
What would you do?
Each time you’re considering a rental whether it be a private passenger car, motorized scooter, U-Haul, a personal watercraft, or Duffy…always purchase the insurance offered by the company. They may use common terms such as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). For an additional cost of about $10-$20 per day you can rest easy knowing if you get into an accident, you can drop the key off to the company for them to handle. This is the difference of having a minor inconvenience of an accident versus ruining a trip you most likely already paid in full for. This option is much better than spending your vacation reading through the tiny fine print of your credit card or calling your insurance agent and explaining how beautiful the ocean was and that it caught your eye for a split second before you rear-ended someone else. Safe travels.
A L O H A + M A H A L O