Smart SpendingSmart Spending

A rental car insurance horror story

Don't assume you're covered when you rent a vehicle. That could be a very costly mistake.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 8, 2011 12:37PM

This post comes from Michael at partner blog The Dough Roller.


The Dough Roller on MSN MoneyLet me tell you a horror story about the car rental insurance that comes with your credit card.


A few weeks ago I needed a rental car. Enterprise was located right around the corner, so I figured I would give them a shot. This was my first rental car, so I wasn't exactly sure how the process worked. But, to my surprise, I was in my rental in under 20 minutes. Perhaps that was part of the problem.


I normally drive a 2003 Ford Mustang. While I requested a car of similar size, Enterprise had only three vehicles available: a Ford F150, a Dodge Ram Dakota pickup, and a minivan the size of an 18-wheeler.


After considering my options, I should have walked away. I'd never driven a big truck before, and living in a sky-rise with a tight parking garage, it would be a terrible idea to take any of these.


Regrettably, I asked for the smallest of the three vehicles, which was the Dakota.


Because of the cost, I don't carry collision and comprehensive coverage on my car insurance policy. But having just received my new Capital One Spark Business Visa Card, I knew I had rental car damage waiver protection. So, in filling out the paperwork on this truck, I declined the extra $19.95-a-day damage insurance offered by Enterprise.


I moseyed on back to my apartment complex, only to realize that this pickup was indeed too large for my parking garage. I tried to maneuver the truck into my parking space, and even though I thought the dimensions would work, they didn't. I ended up getting stuck to the cement post to my left.


The only way out was to rev it, so that's what I did. You might say the Dakota was now a wee bit crumpled. Looking at it made me sick. I drove the truck out of the garage and returned it to Enterprise. They filled out a quick form, looked at the damage and told me they would call with an estimate the next day. (Two weeks later, I have not heard from them).


If I were to judge, I'd say there's about $2,000 worth of repairs needed. Ugh.


But not to worry. I immediately called Visa to get the claim form filled out. After I provided the very helpful customer-service representative with my information, she let me know that I do not qualify for coverage. What was that? Well, wouldn't you know it: Certain cars and trucks are not included in rental car insurance coverage. Taken directly from Visa's website:

Excluded worldwide are: expensive, exotic, and antique automobiles; certain vans; vehicles that have an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

Post continues below.

And from the MasterCard website, just in case you think I'm getting a raw deal:

Excluded: All trucks, pickups, full-size vans mounted on truck chassis, campers, off-road vehicles, and other recreational vehicles; trailers, motorbikes, motorcycles, and any other vehicle having fewer than four wheels; antique vehicles.

Seems like anything that's not a sedan or compact car is excluded. Sadly, that knowledge would have gone a long way in getting me off the hook for this four-digit expense I'm about to incur. Instead, I wait for a dreadful phone call to learn how much the estimate is going to be. And there's not a gosh darn thing I can do about it.


I guess the moral of this story is that you should never assume your insurance policy covers you in all scenarios. Whether it's auto, health, home or life insurance, make sure you know the ins and outs of your coverage. And even if you think you'll never get into an accident, plan for it. Don't be the $2,000 idiot I was and assume you're covered.


Update:  I just received the estimate in the mail from Enterprise and the damage to the truck plus administrative fees and loss of use for 10 days is going to cost me $3,700. Ugh.


More on The Dough Roller and MSN Money:

Dec 10, 2011 9:43PM

...sooooo, the moral of the story is that if you don't know how to drive don't rent a vehicle?


What did you think was going to happen?  Insurance companies are not non-profits.

Dec 10, 2011 9:32PM

I do not see what state you reside in, but in NYS, your auto insurance automatically covers a rental vehicle (even if you don't carry anything but liability on your own policy) while you rent a vehicle in the USA, Canada or part of Mexico.  Did you call your company at all?

Dec 10, 2011 9:32PM

Anyone remember all those bloggers who said that the customer should not get the extra insurance from the rental car agency?  LOL - they said your credit card would cover it - well - maybe these guys should have warned about the pitfalls also.  In this state your existing car insurance may cover rental and loaner cars - but maybe the $20 dollars extra is well worth the cost in the long run.  You can't always depend on what your insurance man tells you - and - very often the insurance company interprets (that in writing part) in a way that is different from what the insured thinks it means.



Dec 10, 2011 9:32PM
This is very similar to my story. I had a fender bender in my Mustang and had to get a rental this week while it was in the shop. The lady at Hertz told me that my insurance would cover the car. However, if I had a wreck in it that was my fault, or if ANYTHING happened to the rental, it would go on my insurance. I didnt want to chance someone hitting and running (in a parking lot, or similar) so I paid the extra 19.99 a day for "peace of mind" insurance. To me it was worth it, especially at this time of year with all the crazy holiday drivers out there.
Dec 10, 2011 9:28PM
I rented a Monte Carlo from National Car rental in Solana Beach, Ca., 4 years ago that had apparantly not been inspected for safety by the rental company. When I got to the destination, I opened ther trunk, reached in, and thats all I remember. When I woke up, I was bloody from a 4 inch gash over my left eye and I could not remember my name. 16 stiches in my face and concussion wih brain injury, I am told that the gas filled struts that hold the trunk open were missing. Not broken off, not non-functioning,-missing. I am told that there have been problems like this with these cars since the 1980's. !00 pounds of metal came crashing down on my head and could have killed me. so please- do a thorough safety inspection whenever you buy or rent a car. Your life depends on it.
Dec 10, 2011 9:16PM
sounds like the author's fault for not reading everything that came with the agreement.  If you don't like the policy....don't go with the program.  But it's not the card company's fault for this person's not reading the agreement.
Dec 10, 2011 9:11PM
The reason that he is an idiot, that he didn't read all the fine prints in his Guide to benefits, when he got his credit cards. I am in the US army reserves and live in the island of Puerto Rico( In the Caribbean), for the last 5 years I have been traveling a lot to the mainland because of deployments and trainings. I have rented more that 100 times from Enterprise with a Capital One platinum card. Besides what he stated above you should add the following: " Rented vehicles must have a manufacture's suggested retail price of $50,000 or less."
Read all the fine prints, and if you have a doubt, refrain or call the customer service.
Why some people can not settle for less?? I have seen this son many times in the US, that I don't understand why people need these type of cars in order to feel good... When I was training at Fort Sam Houston in 2007, there were 3 single platoon Sergeant driving 2 Ford Expedition and a Cadillac Escalade... All 3 were singles.....

Dec 10, 2011 9:07PM
this is the funniest story i've heard in months, i laughed so hard, thanks for making my day. i was feeling depressed and this story got me out of the coma, they say laughter is the best medicine, and they're right.
Dec 10, 2011 8:57PM
It took a lot of courage for this guy to write about his misfortune.  I am sure someone out there appreciates this article as it would be a hard lesson for anyone to learn.  Kudos to the writer for sharing despite all of the negative comments.
Dec 10, 2011 8:51PM

Oh Brother...


You're a business writer and you're this dense and stupid about renting a car. Talk about a made up story.

Dec 10, 2011 8:48PM
oh and wolfman. I see someone disliked your must have been him!
Dec 10, 2011 8:46PM
this guy is not only an idiot, but he can not drive either, deserves what he gets, he did the damage like a 21 and progressive commercial on tv! I ;augh that they even considered it a story.
Dec 10, 2011 8:37PM

This author is an idiot and deserved it. Congrats, moron, trying to get a large vehicle in a small garage, and ruining it. And congrats on revving the engine to jam it loose and making the damage worse. A SMART person would have called a tow service and gotten rolling jack out there to move it laterally off the pole without damaging it further. You could have limited the damage to a small dent or even just some paint work. But no, you had to rev it and jam it into the pole worse while getting it out.


It's also your fault for not reading your Visa's insurance clauses and paying for Enterprise's insurance. You earned this one.

Dec 10, 2011 8:37PM
Buy rental coverage through your auto policy agent.  The credit card insurance is like trusting, well a government bailout slug!  I pay an extra 2 dollars a month.   
Dec 10, 2011 8:35PM

While the rental car agency is not required to mention that the aforementioned open bed vehicles, etc. are usually not covered by credit card rental insurance policies, it would seem to be a good idea.  One is good customer service (why would he want to rent from them in the future?) and the second is to make the sale of the daily rental insurance.  I've rented several times from Enterprise, especially when my car was in the shop, and they've always been exceptionally good.  But the fine point about the fine print would serve them well both as good will and making the additional sale.

Dec 10, 2011 8:29PM
Idiot.  I knew about these exclusions, but expected a real story.  You wasted my time.  Thanks.  You are an idiot and deserve a bigger bill.  I hope you didn't get paid for this story.
Dec 10, 2011 8:23PM
Writer of this article is a freaking idiot. Probably should have just kept your incompetence to yourself. You would probably have tried to park a freaking semi in the garage too. Viva la Douche!
Dec 10, 2011 8:22PM
The author of this article is a complete moron. Not buying  the Enterprise insurance for a measley $20 per day is the stupidest decision you could make when you rent a car. That insurance covers anything you may do to that vehicle...even if it's your fault. Being ignorant of your credit card company's policy related to rentals is 100% the fault of the author...I have no sympathy for his stupidity. Plus, no one held a gun to this moron's head and made him rent the Dakota. It serves him right to have to pay that $3,000.
Dec 10, 2011 8:15PM
true enough not everyone can drive well. some drivers shouldn't even drive. this story is wrote by one of those drivers that should not be driving. hey, you could be on the road with him.
Dec 10, 2011 8:14PM
Yep even when your corporate card does cover you, it will not pay for loss of use, but yep they will try and claim it took 10 days to fix the vehicle which is a total farce, plus charge you loss of use even if they had 400 cars left to rent.  Had it happen to me before, credit card company would not pay loss of use, I told disADVANTAGE rental car to prove the loss of use, they sent it to a collection agency, told them what they could do with their so called debt collection, in the end told them to file it on my credit report or shut up about it and stop calling.  That worked they wrote it off stoped calling and never filed it against my credit report.  Even if they do you can add a response to your credit explaining the claim against you for not paying.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.