The Insider: How do I handle a damage claim on my rental car?

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment our new “Insider” series on car rentals. Here’s the first part, the second, the third and the fourth. By the way, if you see something I’ve missed in this post, please tell me in the comments or email me.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines. The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

You’ve put a dent in your rental vehicle. Or worse, your car rental company claims you returned the car with a scratch or two on it. Oops.

How do you handle it?

I’ve damaged a rental car (sorry, Hertz) and I’ve been through all the steps. But I’ve also helped countless others who either roughed up their rental, or were accused of it.

This is a hugely controversial issue. In the past few years, car rental companies have taken a tough position on customers who damage their vehicles. Many travelers believe car rental companies are profiting from damage claims, insisting the scratches or dents were either pre-existing or completely fictional. In some cases, they are correct.

Let’s go through the steps.

First, let’s assume that the damage isn’t major, which is to say, you didn’t total the car. If the car is undrivable, you’ll want to call the company right away, and the claims process is pretty straightforward, because no one is questioning the damage.

The return.
A vast majority of disputed car rental damage claims happen because of little dings and dents that no one noticed. Maybe you were parked at the mall, and the SUV next to you put a little bump in your side panel when the driver opened his door. The trick is to identify any minor damage when you return your set of wheels to the rental location. You’ll want to give yourself 10 extra minutes to walk through these steps, but believe me, they’re worth it.

1) Find a well-lighted space, preferably out in the open. Whip out your camera and photograph the inside and the outside of the vehicle. Take as many images as possible. Note any dings, dents or scratches. Pay close attention to the windshield; those are the number-one source of damage claims.

2) Ask the car rental employee handling your return to walk around the car with you. That person will often be busy (tell him you can wait) or totally unavailable (see step 3). Walk around the car with the form you filled our when you rented the car and then ask the employee to sign the form or to give you something in writing, verifying that the car was returned in the same shape as you drove it away. If the employee says a printed receipt is sufficient, then at least record the name of the worker who assured you the receipt was sufficient. You may need it later, if it comes to a dispute.

3) If no one is available, go inside, ask for the name and email address of the branch manager, and send the manager a brief email with your name, rental number and a few snapshots of the car as you returned it. Is that overkill? No, and especially not if you are using your own insurance, as opposed to the optional Collision Damage Waiver offered by the rental company. It signals to the rental location that filing a frivolous claim against you will be difficult.

4) Keep your photos, video, receipts and signed documents for at least six months. That’s how long it could take the claims process.

What about moving violations?
If you’ve run through a tollbooth or a red light, there’s nothing you can do at this point. Your car rental company will forward the paperwork to you. In many cases, the company will furnish you with photos that establish your guilt. At the very least, it should document the time and place of the alleged violation. Review this information carefully. I’ve dealt with many tickets where the driver was out of state, and couldn’t have possibly run the red light, or where the wrong car was billed for a moving violation.

Handling the dreaded claim.
Ideally, the car rental claims process will start when you return a damaged vehicle. An employee will ask you to fill out a claim form in which you acknowledge the damage and you explicitly agree to pay for it. Recently, some rental companies have begun charging a renter’s credit card a deductible even when there’s been no formal damage estimate. I’m skeptical of that practice. While it may be legal, I think you’re better off waiting for a bill before paying up, or asking your insurance to settle the claim.

If you purchased the optional insurance, you’re all done. You shouldn’t have to worry about anything else. But if you’re using your own insurance, or, God forbid, you’re not insured, you’re not out of the woods yet. You’re going to have to deal with your car insurance or credit card quickly (there’s a time limit on filing a claim) and then negotiate with the car rental company or an outside company that specializes in damage claims, often referred to as a subrogation management company.

The claim by mail.
In some cases, a car rental company will discover damage to a vehicle after you’ve returned your car. If you’ve gone through the process of photographing your car and getting a sign-off from a real person, then this is a non-issue. Simply send your extensive documentation back to the claims department, and your case will be closed.

But what if you forgot to take pictures, and simply dashed off to the airport terminal? (Hey, it happens.) Well, there’s a way out of that, too.

Note: If you think there’s a chance the car was damaged while you had it, and a car rental company can show you credible documentation to that effect, then I would urge you to accept responsibility for the bill. Car rental customers sometimes say they shouldn’t be held responsible if they didn’t cause the damage. That’s incorrect. If the car was damaged while you had it, you have to pay for the repair.

First, the bad news. You’ll get an email or a letter from either the car rental company or a claims management company, alerting you to the damage. This can be unsettling because it often doesn’t contain many details – it only informs you of the problem and asks for your credit card information an/or your insurance information.

Here’s the proof. The message will be followed by an email or letter that contains photos of the damaged car and an estimate of the repair. It could also contain two fees unrelated to the repair: loss of use and diminishment of value. These fees are exactly what they say: 1) an estimate of how many days the car was out of commission, and the average daily rate it might have earned; and 2) an estimate of how much less the car is worth, now that it’s been banged up. Read everything carefully. Make sure the license plate matches the plate on your rental and that it’s the same car. (Sometimes, it’s not.)

Pay up … or else. If you don’t respond to the first or second letter, the car rental company will threaten to refer your case to a collections agency. This is probably the last time you’ll hear from the agency, and it is your last opportunity to come to an agreement. By the way, if you fail to respond, you won’t just have a collections agency harassing you, but you’ll also be blacklisted from ever renting from the agency again.

Strategies for disputing a claim
Again, assuming you are absolutely certain that you returned your car undamaged, here are the steps.

• Politely tell them you didn’t do it. This should be done in writing, not by phone. Resist the urge to get an immediate resolution. The process takes time. Be as detailed as you can in your explanation, but keep your initial letter tight. Most of these rebuttals are rejected, but all the same, they are a necessary part of the claims process, and you’ll need to get your denial on the record.

• After the denial, send a more strongly-worded email to the car rental company, restating your position. Copy your insurance company. By now, you should have received a repair estimate. Feel free to challenge some of the items, including loss of use and diminishment charges, which can be as inflated as your repair bill. With a little prodding, I’ve seen these charges lowered or even removed.

• If that doesn’t work, I would recommend appealing to a manager, a customer-service vice president or the CEO. This is a good time to loop in your attorney and the insurance commissioner in the state in which the car was rented. I’ve spoken with damage claim companies who say that if it gets to this point, and the damage is less than $500, they will drop the claim as a matter of policy. And if none of those strategies work, call me.

Is this a scam?
Your scam radar should be on full alert if you see any of the following.

• A claim that’s a few dollars short of $500, which is the standard car insurance deductible. This may be a sign that the car rental company is trying to ding you for a trumped-up damage claim. It doesn’t want to go over $500 and invite the scrutiny of an insurance company.

• A damage claim for normal wear and tear. If an essential part of the car stopped working on your watch, and it was due to a maintenance problem, then it’s not your fault. A car rental company is responsible for changing the oil in its cars and keeping the fluid levels where they ought to be.

• Damage to a part of the car that’s unseen to a normal person. That would include the roof and the undercarriage. Almost no one checks the roof before they rent a car and no one crawls under the car. It’s really their word against yours that something happened.

• A cleaning fee for smoking or pets — especially if you don’t smoke or didn’t bring your dog or cat on your trip.

Can you ask for an independent review of your repair bill?
Generally, the answer is “no.” Car rental companies can’t be bothered with getting a second opinion when they’re processing thousands of claims. But that shouldn’t stop you from questioning the bill or doing your own research in order to determine if you’re being billed the right amount.

(Photo: Wonderlane/Flickr)

48 thoughts on “The Insider: How do I handle a damage claim on my rental car?

  1. Great series of articles.  We had to rent a car on our most recent trip and I followed your and other readers’ advice.  My father-in-law was surprised at all the things you have to do today to rent a car.  I’m currently dealing with a claim – we’ll see how it all works out.

  2. we have just returned the car to Europcar. We bought the optional insurance which covered most damages. Because of that, the staff didn’t even check the car when we collected it. When we returned it, nobody checked it either and we’d forgotten to get a receipt. They have made the assumption that even if there were damages, the insurance will cover it anyway!

    1. just so we are clear, there is no ‘insurance.’  You simply bought a damage waiver – the company self insures and if you pay for the CDW then if you wreck the car they use the proceeds from selling the CDW to fix or replace the vehicle . . . .

  3. If you have dented your rental car, a really good idea is to get 2 repair estimates BEFORE you bring it back . . . then you know.

    If you are overseas, then you have problems – but then what are they going to do to you anyway?

    If you damage a car overseas you should IMMEDIATELY upon your return home CLOSE the credit card you used to charge the rental. Yep, it;ll be a hassle but most folks have more than one – then you can simply get another one with a different provider. 

    If you close the account they cannot charge it and have to come after you physically.

    I’m not advocating fraud – just leveling the playing field.  If you have insurance, file a claim – if your credit card had insurance, file a claim – if you caused damage to someone elses property you should reimburse them but there is no reason to give them a blank check . . .

  4. I brought up this article in another article in this series.

    This is what the rental agencies think of themselves.  They’re David, the insurers are Goliath, and I guess the renters paying deductibles and (eventually) higher premiums for the customer don’t really matter as long as they improve their bottom line.

    ** quote **
    “This was a David v. Goliath win,” says PurCo’s Purinton. “Our beef was not with the renter Judith Koenig, but with the insurance company advancing arguments for her. Insurance companies sometimes fight loss of use and administrative charges, even though they collect premiums to cover them. This case recognizes what any rental car owner already knew: these damages are real and they affect an owner’s bottom line.”
    ** unquote **

  5. “A car rental company [[should is]] responsible for changing the oil in its cars and keeping the fluid levels where they ought to be.”
    Good article, Chris. Grammar typo caught my eye, as noted above.

  6. I hate to admit it, but as an infrequent renter I just buy the CDW. I would think twice about it if I wanted to rent a car for a longer period of time but I usually rent once or twice a year for 2-4 days at a time, so I just pay it and figure I’ll have the peace of mind not to worry about being charged $500 for a scratch on the bumper.


    1. Just get a credit card with rental insurance. It’s cheaper (usually free). An AMEX is best, as they are the least hassle if you have to make a claim, but Visa/MC are ok too.

  7. I had booked a mid sized sedan 2 weeks in advance with Fox in SFO. At 2 am when our flight landed, we were told they dont have the car but instead gave us huge Dodge caravan(for a couple!). Now, we didnt have any option but to take it as this was the only available vehicle. Also, this mammoth was scratched in a parking lot. I admit its my responsibility as I had signed the contract, but I consider it unfair of the company to send a 1000$ bill for the damages. What should In do?

    1. You should pay the REASONABLE cost of the damage, since you admit it’s your responsibility. However, I would dispute any inflated administrative fees (anything over $50). For loss of use fees, demand to see the company’s fleet utilization logs as proof of loss. If their entire fleet was not 100% rented (or otherwise unavailable for rent) at the time then they suffered no damage from loss of use. I’ve used this a couple of times for damage claims, and they’ve dropped the loss of use charges since no rental firm is going to publicly release their very confidential fleet utilization logs.

      1. “If there entire fleet was not 100% rented at the time then they suffered no damage from loss of use.”

        If I damage your car and it’s my fault I have to provide you with the value of a replacement vehicle while yours is being fixed. It doesn’t matter if you live next to the subway, or work on a bus route, or have 17 different cars. I still have to provide the value of a replacement vehicle. Rental car companies operate the same way. BTW, you sign a contract specifically agreeing to compensate for loss of use. Many contain clauses which state this is regardless of fleet utilization. I personally wouldn’t a sign a contract specifically agreeing to something and then try to get out of it later.

    2. I am in your same situation! Fox Rental Car sent me a $1000.00 bill, and $300 includes Loss of Use, Depreciation and $100 Admin fee. I asked to see a real repair bill and they said they don’t have to provide one, that it’s their discretion if they even fix the car but I’m still liable for damages. I flat out asked them to reduce the fees. They dropped the total by ~$200. However, they told me I better pay up in full or they are sending it to collections. Moral of this story: #1 Always request them to remove the Fees on their bills. My insurance told me they almost ALWAYS will if you ask. . And Moral #2: When the rental car company refuses to show you an actual repair bill it’s because they just got an estimate and aren’t fixing the car. Moral #3: I’m pretty much stuck paying if I want my life to get easier. My questions is: why don’t they have to provide me with something “proof” of the cost of the damage? Where’s my detailed estimate? I thought of getting a lawyer but they are so expensive so then I’m out $$ either way. This is how they get you.

  8. I recently checked a car at the airport rental, one of those,, drive up and drop.  A young lady had one of those handheld devices to check me out and print off the receipt.  She looked at the mileage and gas gauge, that was it.   I received a call from the agency stating the car had damage and i needed to file a claim.  I told the gentleman that as far as I knew there was no damage to the car.  I asked him what time he noticed the damage and he stated about noon.  I check the car in at 8:00 am, and I had a recent that showed the time-stamp.  I then logged his call time to me, which was 2:00pm.  I explained to him 6 hours had past, how could he be sure it was me and not a lot jockey that damaged the car.  I never heard back from them.  In the meantime I did call my insurance and credit card companies to report the incident just in case they filed a claim or tried to make a unauthorized charge. The agency took no action.  So make sure you keep your receipt, and document the converstaions.

  9. a relative visited the U.S. and rented a car during his stay. Unfortunately he was hit at the mall parking lot. The door jammed with dents and scratches ..No witness or camera. He didn’t have rental car insurance because his credit car would cover it. Now the claim was sent to my home address of $11,000. The claim price for damage are wayyyy to much.He was obligated to give a U.S address and gave mine. If not paid can they come after me even though my name or signature isn’t on any paper work only my address?…

  10. Unfortunately, I too am dealing with a current claim with Enterprise for $700. It’s been a nightmare. A roof damage claim they said upon the car’s return was from hail. I summoned the weather data history from the geographical location and there was NO record of any. They won’t drop the claim based on their “weak” arguments. This is a well written piece of advice by Mr. Elliott. Good, solid quality, date and time stamped photos are essential. This company’s a bunch of lying cheating thieves. NEVER AGAIN, will I rent from Enterprise.

  11. I too am dealing with a $950 claim from Enterprise. The expensive scratch was definitely not there when I dropped the vehicle in the early morning hours before the office was open but then magically appeared when the attendant got around to inspecting long after I was gone. Unfortunately, I have no pictures, but even if I did, can I be held responsible for damage after I drop off the car?

    1. Read your contract. It states that you are responsible for damages to cars dropped off outside of business hours until the office opens the next day. If the opposite were allowed, EVERYONE who damages a car would drop the car off outside of business hours and claim the damage happened after it was dropped off.

      1. Good point! However, it also allows the rental company to pin ANY damage they feel like inventing on the customer. Seems like after hours drop off is a bad practice no matter how you look at it.
        The legal wording of the contract would hold me responsible for after hours damage even if I did return the car in good condition, had pictures and could prove it! How can I possibly prevent someone from scratching a car in the unsecured airport Enterprise lot at 4:00 am while I’m on a plane home?
        Is it fair practice to hold the customer responsible for situations over which they have no control whatsoever?

        1. So what would you suggest exactly? If a car is returned after hours with damage should rental companies just take customers at their word 100% of the time? Customers lie about that stuff all the time.

          1. I don’t doubt that customers lie all the time. I also know that companies lie just as much.

            The point is that even if I return a vehicle in good shape and have photos to prove it, some damage could still happen after I’m long gone but before the office opens. Legally, I’m accountable even though I have absolutely no control.

            Accountability without responsibility does not seem fair. I would even argue that a person cannot be contractually obligated for something they can never reliably deliver (eg. Safety of a retuned vehicle in a public lot).

            If I retuned a car to the company’s lot it should be up to them to secure it after that point. If damage happens on their property then their insurance should pick up the bill.

            Of course, how do you prove all this? Renters should take complete photos and rentals could provide locked parking areas that are video monitored.

            I should have just returned it during regular hours but even then it seems companies try fraudulent claims. Next time I’ll just cab it!

          2. Here’s the thing. You know going in what the businesses’s hours are. It’s not like they suddenly decided to change their hours in the middle of the rental. You also knew going in that you are responsible for any damage to the rental car, regardless of fault. Every rental car company has the same policy regarding after hours returns. You could have booked a later flight, or you could have purchased CDW which would have covered the damage. Most rental companies will let you add or remove CDW during any point in the rental, all you have to do is let them inspect the vehicle. With Enterprise, since they have multiple locations around town as well as the airport, all you would have had to do was stop by an Enterprise the day before you were going to return and added CDW for that one day. You chose to save $20 and NOT do this, accepting the risk that if something happened, you agreed to pay for it. I understand your point on after hours returns since customers can not ensure that no damage will happen after they drop the car off, but that is a risk that customers can decide whether or not to assume. To say that your obligation should end when the car is dropped off is short sighted, since then everyone who had a car damaged during the rental period would return it after hours so they wouldn’t have to take responsibility.

          3. Yes, yes, I understand the legal implications and that I can either Agree to pay the $5000 for the coverage or sign over my firstborn if there is an accident. I understand that I should not complain when I choose to sign over my firstborn and then the company comes to collect my kid. I should probably offer to bend over for the rental company too and then say I like it when they screw me.
            What I object to is that the rental companies place their customers in an impossible position just to cover themselves. I am left holding all of the liability and the company is legally free to charge me whatever they like.
            If a company does not provide a valuable good/service for a customer then the customer will ultimately discontinue use of the company. For example, I understand that airlines need to provide safe flights for travelers and I do not mind a security scan at the airport. However, when they start doing mandatory full body cavity searches for each passenger, then I will no longer fly. I don’t care how safe the flight is, it is not worth it the hassle of admittance.
            Similarly, I can understand how a rental company must cover the costs of vehicle repairs but when they fail to provide a valuable enough service to the customer then I will no longer rent vehicles and will take a cab instead. Enterprise is almost at this point for me and if all the other companies use the same practice then they will not get my business either.
            The companies must come up with some better solution to this problem that provides adequate value to their customers.

          4. I suspect the law would take a position in-between. Throughlyamused makes a valid point about proof. However, Wayne also makes a valid point about being delivered to the enterprise lot.

            If the returned car is damage free, can be proved that any damage occurred being returned to the car lot, and the after hours return lot has the same level of security as cars returned during business hours, I think a judge would side with Wayne. However, questions of proof are a separate issue.

          5. That’s just it, though. You CHOOSE to put yourself in that position. You know what the company’s hours are, and you know what the policies are regarding damage. You had multiple options to avoid putting yourself in this situation. You could have not rented at all, you could have booked a later flight, you could have returned the rental the night before and stayed at an airport hotel, or you could have purchased the CDW. You voluntarily CHOSE to:

            1. Return the car outside of normal business hours.
            2. Accept full responsibility for any damage, regardless of fault.

            As I mentioned above, you even had the option of adding CDW for just one day of the rental. You CHOSE not to do this in order to save $20 (CDW doesn’t cost $5,000 for one day so quit with the ridiculous exaggeration). And now that something has happened, rather than accept the fact that you accepted the risk and now need to accept responsibility, you’re trying to find fault with the rental company (even though all rental co. have the same policy about this kind of thing) so you can get out of paying for what you legally agreed to.

          6. Now that I have been made so painfully aware of all my various options, I don’t see how I could possible CHOOSE to enter into another legally binding agreement that is so ridiculously biased in favor of the rental company.
            Thank you for helping me to make up my mind to never do business with such hopelessly myopic companies.
            Please let me know if the industry ever begins to consider the needs of the customer.

          7. Most business contracts favor the party that wrote them. Ever signed a lease for an apartment?

            I strongly disagree that the industry doesn’t consider the needs of the customer. Unfortunately, the industry also has to take steps to protect their assets. Rental damages are an unfortunate fact of the industry, because no customer wants to pay for damage to a rental car. Like I said, you had options. You seem to think that once a rental car is dropped off, the obligation ends there. No rental company works like that. The only viable alternative seems to be to ban after hours returns. For customers with early flights, this doesn’t seem very customer friendly.

  12. I am getting scamed by budget for a $250 smoking fee and I don’t even smoke. I spoke to them and they refuse to remove the charge even after speaking to a manager. How should I handle this?

  13. Elliot, I may need help from someone. A rental car company is trying to make me pay for hail damage that happened less than 10 miles from their own outdoor lot. I refuse. I just refuse to pay or to use my insurance etc… for such an outrageous claim. These bastards have only been getting away with this since around 2006 from what I can tell and they need to be stopped before they get even bolder.

    1. So you don’t deny that the hail damage happened, correct? If so, you’re responsible. You signed a contract agreeing to be held responsible. You had the option to reduce your responsibility, which you decided to decline. If you smugly declare at the rental counter, “I have MY OWN insurance”, then that means you shouldn’t be afraid to use it if something happens. If this happened on your personal car, who would be responsible for it? Seriously, just pay for it like you agreed to and stop playing the victim card.

        1. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Act of God. You are still responsible. If you aren’t comfortable taking that risk you should buy the CDW or not rent at all. Personally if a major storm is coming I’ll add the CDW and then remove it after the storm passes. If a tree falls on your personal car who pays to have it fixed?

          1. =). Look at airline disclaimers. Not responsible for “Acts of God”. Valid legal defense used by corporations far and wide.

          2. Not sure if you’re aware but we’re not talking about airlines. We’re talking about rental cars. Read rental car contracts. It clearly says you are responsible for any and all damage to the rental vehicle regardless of fault, including acts of God. You have a way to reduce your responsibility. If you choose not to purchase that option, then you are bound by the rental agreement. You don’t get to say, “I’m not paying for CDW, but I’m also not paying for XYZ if it happens to the car.”

            As I’ve said before, you do not get to pick and choose which parts of the contract you want to have apply. Yes, reasonableness is a factor, but this is determined by courts, not individual consumers. Many consumers on this site believe that it is unreasonable for rental car companies to charge for damage, period.

            So, like I said, Rhoda had multiple options. She could have chosen not to rent, she could have put the car in a covered garage, or she could have purchased CDW which would have covered the damage. She made a conscious decision NOT to purchase CDW, and accepted full responsibility for any damage. Now something happened, and she doesn’t feel like taking responsibility. Too bad. I hope the rental company gets what it is rightfully due and they don’t back down just because Chris throws a little bad publicity their way.

      1. They’ve only been getting away with it since around 2006, and it’s written up in “Auto Rental News” as a way to “pass costs on to the consumer”. How charming. When I talked to a Consumer Protection Agent, even she was surprised to hear about this practice. It’s a great way to pass on substantial costs to a relatively small portion of your consumer base, and hope that it will just become accepted as a normal business practice, even as businesses continue to protect themselves with the Act of God clause – and rightfully so, when it’s not abused. Class Action, FTC intervention time. I’d be glad to use my insurance to pay for damage I was responsible for, but I don’t want to give these guys anything.

        1. Of course you don’t. No one WANTS to pay for rental car damage. But it’s not about what you WANT, it’s about what you agreed to. You had someone else’s property in your possession. You could have purchased an option that would have reduced your responsibility, which you consciously decided not to do. You don’t get to say, “Well, I don’t want to pay for CDW, but I don’t want to pay for XYZ if it happens to the car.”

          As the owners of the car, the rental companies have the right to determine what is and is not damage, and they have written into their contracts that Acts of God are considered damage. If you weren’t comfortable with that, you could have chosen to either not rent or purchase CDW to reduce your responsibility. If a tree fell on a car and totaled it, are you saying that a rental car company should simply eat that damage? Don’t you realize that that means higher rental costs for everyone?

      1. I rented from Enterprise Car Rentals since they have an office conveniently located onsite at the body shop and with the insurance company adjuster. However, I found out later that the rental rep doesn’t stay onsite during their business hours after I dropped the car rental off in the morning in the same condition as I had. The rental office was closed and the body shop said it was okay to drop off the keys there. I get a call at the end of the day, stating that the car was damaged that there is a crack on the bumper. My credit card gets charged and they submit a claim to my insurance company. My rental car was more costly than getting my car repaired and caused 2 claims on my insurance instead of one. I only had it for one day. I reported this to my insurance company. Should I dispute the charges with my credit card company. Or will it be more costly later?

    2. Update: In the end, I did file a claim with my insurance, and will either pay the remainder out of pocket or if very lucky, my credit card. I spoke with a lawyer friend, and my dad’s paralegal, and for now, they can make this stick to renters. I’m still trying to make sure they make a statement swearing they didn’t charge any other renters for the damage, and won’t do so in the future. I also want to make sure they don’t try to come back for more money. Of course I was, and am absolutely furious, but as the current laws stand, they are doing this because they CAN, and because they know that no individual renter can take them to task on the actual *practice* of claiming Acts of Nature, even if some renters may successfully dispute the company’s claim that the car was in their possession when the damage happened. Again, most people have no idea this is going on (I didn’t) and the rental companies have only been getting away with it since 2006, so it’s not as though it’s legitimized as an established practice. Still, as it stands, state AGs would have to take up the case on a state by state basis – it turns out that the federal Consumer Protection Agency doesn’t handle this at all, at least, not when I contacted them to ask about the status of my complaint. It really would have to be state level. I need to follow up on my complaint to the South Dakota AG.

  14. TI am currently dealing with disputing their repair bill. Not that I “didn’t cause” damages. I was in an accident so it’s established there were damages. I’ve been demanding to see an actual itemized bill for the repairs and getting push-back. The car rental company says it’s under their discretion whether and when to repair the car. When I ask for the detailed estimate, they say they don’t have to provide it. ALl I have is a total estimate of damages, Loss of use at 4 days, and depreciation at 15%. I am stuck just paying this blindly or they threaten to go to collections. Do I have any rights to demand a real estimate??

  15. Enterprise has billed me for a supposed 1700 in damages on the undercarriage of a car, MONTHS after I had rented and returned it with zero issues. They have refused to hear my side of the story and insist on sticking me with the bill. My eSurance brand car insurance was NO HELP. The CSR eventually telling me: WE see this all the time, yes it is a scam, and We are the same company, so we aren’t motivated to help you in this case. I was really shocked. This is totally fake, and I have no interest in ever doing business with a rental car company again. I can’t believe they are allowed to steal from people and ruin our credit like this. Now I’m getting collection calls. I’m very poor…what can I do!?

    Update: i also recently learned that somehow there is an ‘no-fault’ accident ‘claim’ now in my insurance record. THERE WAS NO ACCIDENT. Also, THERE WAS NO INSURANCE CLAIM. My rental was totally uneventful. My insurance was utterly uninterested in helping me. I have no lawyer to call…no money to pay one.

  16. I know this article is old, but I’m really looking for some help.
    I got a claim for almost $5000 worth of damage to a vehicle that had the damage previously before I got the vehicle. The company is Enterprise… of course.

    I told the inspector that BEFORE I received the car, I wanted him to note every damage on the vehicle in the damage report. I was told, “Here at Enterprise we don’t look at all the small things.” Yet, I replied, “I would like you to write it in the damage report regardless.” I assume, from receiving this claim, he did NOT write it in the damage report.

    After many phone calls for about 2 days after returning the car, including the day of the return, I was told that the problem was resolved and that if they had any other questions about anything, I would receive a phone call from them. It’s been two months and I just received a claim in the mail the other day.

    What do I do? I’m 19 years old, I got a rental car because my personal vehicle was involved in an accident with a Progressive customer and I was told this issue was resolved. I really don’t know what to do exactly.

    Do I call my insurance company and let them handle it? I’m under my mother’s insurance plan for Geico. This all makes me incredibly worried…

  17. I was in an incident while driving a Budget rental car. Was hit from behind. Other party took full responsibility. Insurance companies handled claim with Budgets claims company. I still received demand letters from Budget though. Claims adjuster just said to keep them for reference jntil claim settled. Then got the collection agency threat letter from Budget. In the meantime they had switched claims companies and it took 2 weeks for the new company to find the claim. In the meantime there is no one to get back to regarding this last letter! I am not responsible for the damage. Other party’s insurer has issued a check for damages but it has yet to hit the file! Who can I respond to? Terribly frustrating!

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