500 euros for “third party” damage? Surely you jest, Sixt

After William Mann had a fender-bender in his Sixt rental car in Ireland, he didn’t think things could get any worse. But they did.

His story is an example of why you should always read the entire rental agreement, both before and at the time of your rental.

While Mann’s credit card company will cover the damage of 2,786 euros ($2,930) to the rental car, Sixt is charging him 500 euros ($525) for “third party damage.” Mann insists that the terms provided at the time of the online booking said that this coverage was included for no charge (and listed no deductible).

Mann contacted Sixt on his own, though he could have found a list of company contacts on our website.

Sixt’s position is that it is not bound by those terms because they were just “rental information,” and, instead, the rental is governed by the terms on the back of the rental agreement provided at the time he picked up the car. “I don’t know whether or not I signed that rental agreement,” Mann explained. “The copy provided to me by the company was unsigned.”

Mann says that the terms on the back of the rental agreement state:

The insurance included is Third Party insurance only, which covers against damage or injury to a third party. The Insurance Policy carries an excess of $525 for damage to Third Party.

Sixt charged Mann’s credit card $525 (along with the charge for damage to the rental car, which he is not disputing).

“If I had known that I could have been liable for $525 for damage to third parties, I would never have booked with Sixt in the first place,” said Mann. “It appears that most, if not all others, do not charge a deductible for third party coverage. What is troubling is that Sixt changed a material term after my booking without notifying me of this change.”

Related story:   The Insider: Ask these questions before renting a car

Sixt’s website has a link with more information regarding Third Party Insurance, which Mann claims discloses nothing about a renter deductible related to Third Party insurance. As the website states:

Protection coverage for the vehicle includes Third Party Liability with a maximum cover of 200,000.00 euros for material damages.

Mann’s position is that Sixt changed the terms and conditions from the time he booked online to when he picked up the car without informing him. Sixt claims that Mann should have read the terms and conditions on the back of the rental agreement when he picked up the car.

Mann reached out to our advocates, who contacted Sixt on his behalf. Sixt claims that Mann should have been aware of the $525 deductible on Third Party insurance, saying the terms and conditions on the website are a short extract of “relevant information” that would apply to most rentals.

This is a great example of “always read the fine print” because terms and conditions might change at any time. You can learn about car rental fees and get answers to other questions about rentals on our website.

At least Mann is liable only for the $525 deductible and not the entire cost of repairs. Unfortunately for him, I would call this Irish stew of contract terms and disagreements a Case Dismissed.

Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined.

  • AJPeabody

    Bait and switch, unless the back of the contract was posted on the website at the time of purchase. Is there an Irish governmental agency to appeal to?

  • Annie M

    Absolutely ridiculous. They should file a claim with the Attorney General in their state. If it isn’t disclosed at time of booking, they can’t do that I don’t think.

  • Alan Gore

    We seem to get a lot of complains about Sixt. The Viking of the road, apparently.

  • Ben

    Bait-and-switch is a very specific type of fraud. Sixt’s conduct may or may not be fraudulent and illegal, but it is not bait-and-switch.

  • jsn55

    What exactly IS third party damage?

  • jsn55

    Car was rented in Ireland, Annie.

  • C Schwartz

    The 3rd party is the person (or vehicle) that was damaged. If driver A rear ends driver B then driver B is the 3rd party.

  • PsyGuy

    I don;t see this as bait and switch. Yes there is a trade standards commission that hears consumer complaints. The LW will lose though, the terms were stated on the contract.

  • PsyGuy

    The AG in their state will have zero influence on Ireland.

  • PsyGuy

    It should really apply double that you HAVE to read the terms and the contract when doing anything overseas.

  • The Irish Republic is part of the EU, thus, he could take his advocacy to the EU and their body of laws.

  • Lindabator

    Actually very clearly outlined as ALL Irish car rentals offer standard and super-inclusive, and 3rd party ONLY covered with super-inclusive – they have plenty of info both at time of booking, and posted at rental locations, as it is a government-regulated statute

  • Lindabator

    actually one of the better companies out there for a long time. But Ireland offers 2 types of insurance, and if you go cheap YOU assume responsibility — which no one here ever wants to do

  • Lindabator

    Actually, since they make it VERY clear on their contracts that you are offered either inclusive or super inclusive, which specifically covers 3rd party damages, he has no leg to stand on. This is a point I ALWAYS make with my clients – do not go cheap, as the damage can end up costing you greatly in the end

  • The general challenge I keep coming back to in just about all these posts, is that one cannot really contract with a multi-page agreement in 5 minutes.

    I believe the contract law term is called “meeting of the minds”. It is hardly a meeting of the minds, irrespective of what one signs in the line at the counter with 20 people behind you… and the counter representative is hardly F. Lee Bailey to explain it.

    One regulatory change should be standardized contracts like on has for real estate. Something simple. Something in plain English.

    It’ll never happen, but it’s good to dream.

  • cscasi

    This really was a no brainer. After all, when one goes on line to rent from Sixt; in this a vehicle to be rented in Ireland, one first enters the date and time of pickup and drop off, then selects the type of vehicle. After that, it opens a window that shows “extras”. One of the extras is Third Party Insurance and when you click on that it opens another window that explains all the types of insurance available and explains what each is and what it covers. So, that is easily done before one ever gets to the rental agency and has to read it on the back of the contract. It’s what is known as being an “informed consumer”.
    Finally, I would never sign a contract which contained charges for an item or items I did not fully understand. He apparently did so, had an accident which was obviously his fault and was charged accordingly.

  • MarkKelling

    If we went by the “meeting of the minds” principle, no car would ever get rented.

    Every car rental agreement is written to benefit the company in every possibility. Nothing is a benefit to the renter, other than getting the use of the vehicle. And I really don’t want F Lee Bailey explaining any legal document to me unless he is there as my representative to help me understand what I am reading. :-)

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Actually, Sixt’s website has quite confusing language about coverage (to this lawyer).

    The first statement after the heading “General Protection Conditions” is “Protection coverage for the vehicle includes Third Party Liability”. This suggests that all policies have coverage up to 5,000,000 eu. Then there is CDW, Top Cover CDW, Super Top Cover CDW, Indemnity Cover, Theft Protection, Personal Accident Protection, and “Tyre” and Windscreen Coverage. It is entirely unclear if any of the coverages overlap, or if you need to buy one of the three CDW choices, along with indemnity cover, theft, Personal accident and “tyre” coverage.

    Maybe an experienced travel agent knows this stuff, but I doubt the average consumer can easily parse this out.

  • Annie M

    Thank you, didn’t read carefully, sorry

  • PsyGuy

    Would never happen, they company is loaning you a $25,000 vehicle, they are going to want themselves covered A-Z in any possible way. From the consumer perspective a car or vehicle is the third most significant purchase a consumer makes.

  • Alan Gore

    See what I mean?

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