Damaging a rental vehicle can leave you wondering what action to take next. Suppose you have insurance that covers rental vehicles; your first line of thought would be to contact your insurance company. The general rule of thumb is to contact the rental company first and instruct you on what to do next. Some companies will direct you to repair the damaged vehicle and provide you with a receipt to process reimbursement from your insurance company. Others may ask you to stay put while they send you another vehicle.
There are many stories on the internet concerning rental car damage, and a few of them could leave you wary of ever renting a vehicle.
The U.S. car rental industry collected over twenty-eight billion dollars; rental companies got this revenue from about 2.1 million rental cars, which unfortunately couldn’t be returned in the same state you rented them.
The first step to handling a damaged rental car claim is to know what your auto insurance covers. Car rental companies see damages as a profit opportunity; this means rental companies won’t overlook any chance they get to make you cough some extra bucks easily.
Rental car company staff are trained to spot every dent, scratch, and ding on the returned vehicles. They will then charge you ridiculous amounts to have these damages repaired.
This is why it is important to have insurance when dealing with these companies, except you have a lot of money to spare; you wouldn’t want to put up with their charges out of pocket.
How To Handle A Damaged Rental Car
Suppose you are on vacation and you have rented a nice vehicle to cruise around town when your tire gets flat in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe you scratched the car, or someone busted your side mirror. What will you do?
If you have a comprehensive auto insurance policy, you may be tempted to repair the vehicle before returning it to the rental company.
However, the best thing to do is to inform the rental company of the damaged tire, rim, side mirror, or whatever and have them instruct you on what to do next.
The most likely thing to happen is that they request you to repair the vehicle and provide you with a receipt to process reimbursement with your insurance company.
If you purchased the company’s rental car insurance, you might not need to take further action. In most cases, the damage will be covered by the additional insurance you purchased, and you will even be handed over a new vehicle to use while the other is being repaired.
How To Avoid Unfair Rental Damage Claims
Suppose you rented a car and returned it, only to receive a claim later that you damaged the vehicle and have to pay for repairs. Unfortunately, many people have fallen victim to such a scenario, especially when using car-sharing services.
We highlighted some easy precautionary steps to take to avoid such a situation from occurring:
Flee from Car Sharing
Before you patronize a car-sharing service, think long and hard about it. These services are at high risk for rental car damages. Therefore, our advice is to avoid them like the plague.
Report All Damages
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many fail to execute it is a prudent step. No matter the car company’s reputation you are using, always inspect the vehicle for damages before driving off with it.
Some companies will have someone inspect the vehicle with you before leaving with it and have them document any notable dents and scratches.
When returning the vehicle, have the same staff inspect the vehicle again and confirm there is no additional damage to the car. If possible, get a written and signed confirmation. Also, avoid returning the car when there is no employee available to inspect it in your presence.
Document The Vehicle Before Leaving
It may sound a little extreme, but it is worth the trouble to avoid being charged exorbitant amounts for a car you did not damage.
Try to take photos or even videos of the car before and after using it. If the car’s electronic system displays time and date, you should get shots of those, too, so the company does not discredit your photos as doctored images.
Try to spot any damage on the car as it is handed over to you to avoid being held liable for such damages when you return the vehicle.
Go Through Your Insurance
If your auto insurance is comprehensive, it may cover perils on rental cars. The same may also apply if you use a credit card to pay for your rental, going by your credit card coverage.
Check with your insurance provider or card issue first to know your level of coverage before renting a vehicle.
Buy The Collision Damage Waiver
Usually, when renting a car, an agent will offer you some insurance for the vehicle. If your auto insurance does not cover rental cars or you don’t have any at all, spending the extra money is not a bad idea.
In most cases, the collision damage waiver will exempt you from covering any damages to the vehicle while it is in your custody. However, we will advise that you take the time to read the contract before signing it.
Rental car companies are tricky to handle—some hunt for innocent victims to make a few extra dollars.
It is strongly advised that you inspect the state of a car before and after you use it and even document your observations via pictures, videos, or both.
Should you damage a rental vehicle while it is in your custody, contact the rental car company first on what step to take.
So Your Rental Car is Damaged. Now What?