Think your car rental coverage covers you? Think again.

When Tien Doan recently rented a car from Hertz at Paris’ Orly Airport, he took every precaution he could to protect himself. But it wasn’t enough.

Doan inspected the car and pointed out several scratches on the right side. He trusted the Hertz agent to make a note of these scratches as she said she would, but didn’t check the final rental agreement to make sure that the scratches had been noted. After all, he and his wife had just disembarked after a very long U.S. to Paris flight and wanted to get on with their trip.

He even bought Hertz’ optional Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

When the Doans returned the car four days later, they were told by Hertz that “everything was fine.” But the CDW deposit made using their VISA card was never refunded. The Doans called Visa, and Visa credited their account for the CDW deposit amount.

End of story? Not exactly.

A few weeks later, the Doans received a 226 euro bill from Hertz, along with a not-so-subtle threat of turning the matter over to a collection agency if the amount was not paid immediately. The Doans obviously were upset – first, for having to pay to repair scratches that Doan had pointed out but the Hertz agent had failed to document (Doan had not caught this omission when signing the final rental paperwork), and second, because the CDW did not cover the repairs.

The Doans contacted us and our advocates went to work. We got in touch with Hertz and were told that the European CDW purchased by the Doans only covered part of the repair costs. Had the Doans spent extra money and purchased a full coverage policy called SuperCover from Hertz, all of the repair work would have been covered.
Moral of the story:

  • Make sure that all vehicle damage (interior and exterior) is fully documented by the car rental agency before signing the final rental paperwork.
  • Make sure that you know exactly what the rental company’s CDW actually covers. As the Doans have learned, all car rental CDWs are not created equal.
Related story:   You call this consumer advocacy?

Remarkably, you can buy a car rental company’s pricey insurance and make all the notations you want — and it still might not be enough. If you don’t believe me, ask Doan.

Did Hertz charge Tien Doan correctly?

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Sandra Hoboy

Sandra Hoboy is a university English instructor and a former newspaper columnist. She lives in Avondale, Ariz.

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