Singapore is a small country. Limited space means the Government need to control the number of cars on the road or else the roads will be packed. This is why Singapore has the highest cost of car ownership in the world.
The public transport system is very developed, with the MRT (metro) and public buses reaching almost everywhere on the island. As such, some residents only rent a car when it is necessary, like a family outing to several places on the same day, or a day-trip to neighbouring Malaysia.
Singapore car rental can be cheap and affordable. A normal sedan like Toyota Altis, Toyota Vios, Honda City or Mitsubishi Lancer can go for as low as $68/day, same applies to hatchbacks like Honda Fit or Jazz. A MPV like Mazda Premacy or Hyundai Trajet can go for as low as $78/day, compared to the usual range of $100-$120/day.
For the past 10 years, there are many errant car rental companies who rent out cars not belonging to the company, but belonging to private car owners who could not afford to keep up with their car loan installments. “So what?”, you may ask. There lies a big hidden danger.
A proper car rental company owns its fleet of vehicles, and the fleet is insured by an insurance company which does cover “hire and reward”. A normal private car insurance will not cover “hire and reward”, which exposes you to unlimited liability.
What does this mean? Example:
You have rented a car from an errant car rental company where you are not properly covered for “hire and reward” in the insurance policy and then you met with a traffic accident which you had caused injuries to a pedestrian. The pedestrian sues you for $100,000 damages, but the insurance company refuse to pay due to breach of contract. The judge later ruled that you were, say, 70% responsible for the victim’s injuries, and the claim amount (quantum) is adjusted to $70,000 instead of the original $100,000. This means you have to compensate $49,000 (70% of $70,000) to the victim, failing which you shall be made a bankrupt. Furthermore, you might be prosecuted for driving without a valid insurance, which attracts a fine no more than $1,000 or jail no more than 3 months, or both.
This is a very big risk! Why would you want risk being made a bankrupt for just renting a car? What’s more, errant car rental companies may not necessarily charge lower rates than properly insured companies!
How to tell whether the car is properly insured for “hire and reward”? The simplest way is to look at the road tax disc of the vehicle. A vehicle registered with LTA (Land Transport Authority, Singapore) for hire purposes with valid rental insurance coverage will bear the word “MOTORCAR” below the date of expiry, instead of “PASSENGER(PRIVATE)” or “PASSENGER(CO)”. You can dial 1800-CALL-LTA to verify.
Generally, proper car hire insurance would not cover “P Plates” (drivers with less than one year of driving experience). Most may not even cover drivers less than 23 years of age, regardless of their driving experience. So, if you are young (< 23 years old) or inexperienced (P plate), you would be undertaking a very big risk if you drive a rental car because regardless whether it is a proper car rental company or not you will not be covered!
We have here a recommended merchant that has a well maintained fleet of vehicles with proper insurance coverage. The company is legally incorporated and LTA-registered as a car rental company. It also boasts a “LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE”, assuring you that you cannot find a cheaper deal anywhere else.