This is a question many people ask when weighing up the ‘extras’ on a car insurance policy. A hire car is a convenience many people find invaluable when their car is out of action, but the higher premium it incurs can be a significant deterrent.
Many policies only provide a hire car for two weeks if your vehicle is stolen. But it’s worth thinking about the reality of having your car stolen when considering these policies. It can often take a week or more to locate a stolen car, get it fingerprinted by police and released to the insurer or smash repairer. On top of this, the repair work for a stolen car is often lengthy and complicated. Your repairer will need to estimate the damages, assess the claim, change the locks, make external and mechanical repairs, panelbeat, spray-paint and detail the vehicle before it’s released to you. In many cases, the car hire provided under one of these insurance policies will fall well short of the time it takes to get your vehicle back – which means either making alternative arrangements or paying for the additional car hire yourself in the meantime.
You should also think about the fact that repairs for accidental damage take time as well – and these policies make no provision for a hire car if you have an accident. Depending on how much you use your vehicle, the extra premium for a better policy that includes a hire car can be an excellent investment.
Consider Rose, a client of ours. Rose is a local, single mother of three boys. Her kids are all school-age, active and social, and her car is a vital part of how their family lives. Rose pays for a ‘Platinum policy’ (i.e. the highest level of cover) with her insurance company. This allows her to choose her own repairer, priority assessment and full car hire in the event of accident or theft. Unfortunately Rose has put her policy to the test several times, but her level of cover worked out exceptionally well for her needs – it has literally paid for itself, not to mention the quality and convenience of the treatment she received.
Incident One: Rose’s car was hit by a truck whilst parked. It had to be towed to our workshop and within the hour Rose’s insurance company had called to confirm that we had received the vehicle. We estimated the damages, her claim was assessed and authorised the same day and her hire car arrived within four hours of lodging the claim! Rose’s car also needed parts from Japan, which meant it was two months before she got it back – and her excellent policy meant she was never without a vehicle.
Incident Two: A motorcycle impacted the side of Rose’s car at high speed. The rider survived but the bike was destroyed and Rose’s car suffered severe structural damage. Again, parts from overseas were required. And again, Rose’s claim was assessed and authorised within 24 hours and she had her hire car provided immediately, for the duration of the repairs.
For Rose, this high-end policy was the perfect choice for her family and recognised their reliance on her vehicle for their everyday life. As with any choice around your car insurance, you should always consider your circumstances when deciding whether you want to pay the extra premium for a hire car. Your location, your access to public transport and your dependency on your car for your job, family life and freedom should all be carefully weighed up; once your car is in the workshop, it’s too late to ask yourself whether it’s a convenience or a necessity!