First, insurance! We always advise our clients to take what is called Standard Cover in place of Executive Cover. The difference is that whilst Executive has a zero excess (‘deductible’), which sounds great, in reality there are so many exclusions that to our mind, it’s not worth getting. We rather suggest taking Standard Cover and then insuring your excess separately.
We suggest that you check your domestic car insurance policy to see if you are covered for rental vehicle excesses. If so, advise your domestic insurer you’re travelling to South Africa so that you’re not insuring yourself twice (it’s always cheaper to get excess cover on your own insurance policy than to pay for it in South Africa).
However, not all domestic car insurance policies include overseas rental vehicle excesses. If so, we can get you what is called Excess Reimbursement Insurance (ERI) for around R50 – R75 a day.
Overall, the quality of cover under Executive Cover isn’t as good as it is under the ERI. The ERI policy covers you for a far larger range of eventualities than the cover you get under Executive Cover. For example, under the ERI you are covered for incidents such as lost/damaged keys, theft of wheel trims or spare wheels and even luggage or items stolen from the car, as well as autoglass and any other damage, whether your fault or not. The Executive Cover won’t cover you for these things and you’ll be expected to pay out should they occur, despite the zero excess.
Please note that no South African car hire company will cover you for what are called here ‘acts of negligence’. The term ‘negligence’ is quite broad reaching in South Africa and will be different from what you are used to in industrialised countries. If for example you leave the car unlocked, run a red light, drive under the influence, cause an accident, or damage the car in any way (say by reversing into a tree or hitting a kerb), you won’t be covered under the insurance of the vehicle sold to you by the car rental company. It is therefore very important that have additional cover on top of what the car rental includes (either your own excess insurnace or ours).
Driving in central Cape Town or Johannesburg is a bad idea for two reasons: parking and driving is stressful and secondly, you see and can enjoy so much more by walking and using taxis. It is generally not a bad idea to rent a car after two or three days in the city, walking and using taxis until you’d like to travel further.
However, if you’d like to rent a car, we like to recommend Around About Cars: they are a small local company with impeccable service and excellent rates. You should definitely consider booking a car before you get here: there is a lot of demand and not much availability. The best thing is to decide what size of vehicle you’d like and then to choose Standard Cover + Excess Reimbursement Insurance (see below). Something else you should consider is that the smaller vehicles (like a Group A, CSI, etc. ) can really only accommodate one large and one small suitcase in their boots. It’s better, especially if you’re going to travel around with the car, to have a boot that’s big enough to hide the cases that you’ll have with you. You can get two large and one small suitcase into the boot of a Group C. Have a look at the range at www.aroundaboutcars.com first, if you like. Here are the basic types of car you can get (we made these names up!)
Hairdryer on Wheels (0.8l – 1.0 l run around town car)
Pocket Rocket (1.3l – 1.5l hatch back) (the smallest car you should get if you plan on travelling more than 50km a day)
Concrete Cruizin’ (1.6l – 1.8l saloon) (the smallest car you should get it you plan on travelling more than 200km a day)
Family Bus (2.0l van or bakkie)