Car insurance snafu puts brakes on vacation
Published Tuesday, July 15, 2014 6:00AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, July 15, 2014 6:57PM PDT
You may want to think again if you’ve ever skipped buying rental car insurance because you thought you were covered by your credit card. A Metro Vancouver woman found out the hard way that she wasn’t covered after an accident in Australia.
Kim Boudreau's dream vacation turned into an insurance nightmare after renting a vehicle in Australia. She called BMO Mastercard before signing off on the rental contract.
"I was about to waive the insurance. I said, so what I need to know is do I have insurance, am I insured if I use my credit card? [They told me] 'Yes ma'am, you have World Class BMO," said Boudreau.
So her roadtrip through Australia began. Not used to driving on the other side of the road, Kim was rounding a corner near Coffs Harbour, north of Sydney, when her rental vehicle slammed head-on into a motorcyclist.
"He's yelling, 'look what you did to my motorbike!', he's freaking out, he's got blood dripping down his face," she said.
Boudreau told the injured biker she was fully insuredbut that claim turned out to be wrong.
Despite what BMO staff told her on the phone, the credit card's travel insurance plan states: "This coverage does not provide any form of third party automobile…or personal liability insurance."
BMO claims it did explain its insurance coverage to Boudreau on three occasions and its insurance underwriter Allianz emailed her full details of the insurance policy and exclusions before she went on vacation.
Still, BMO told CTV News in an email, "Notwithstanding that, we will take a close look at our protocols to determine if additional training will help to enhance our communications with customers in any way."
ICBC's Adam Grossman says motorists need to ask some basic questions before renting a vehicle.
“If I damage the vehicle, will the damages be covered? If I hit somebody will I be covered for third party liability? If I'm injured in a crash, will I have accident benefits? Those are some of the key things you should ask," said Grossman.
It’s too late to ask those questions for Kim Boudreau. She's now on the hook for about $6,500. She wants to remind others that when it comes to travel insurance it pays to read the fine print.
BMO also told CTV News it believes that under Australian law, third party liability coverage must be provided by the car rental agency free of charge. So it's reaching out to Boudreau through its insurance provider to see if it can guide her through the Australian claim.
If you’re an ICBC customer, you may already have rental car insurance for travel in Canada and the United States. It's called the Roadstar package for motorists with good driving records and it only costs about $25 a year. Also, all motorists can purchase rental vehicle insurance through ICBC for $10 a day. That includes third party liability coverage.