A rental car insurance horror story
Don't assume you're covered when you rent a vehicle. That could be a very costly mistake.
This post comes from Michael at partner blog The Dough Roller.
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:
...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.
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?
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.
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.....
You're a business writer and you're this dense and stupid about renting a car. Talk about a made up story.
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.
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.
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