Are car rental companies forcing you to buy insurance you don’t need?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Todd Ramsdell’s wife rents a car in from Budget, she’s told insurance is required. But it isn’t, and now she wants her money back. Why isn’t Budget budging?

Question

My wife rented a car at the Orlando airport from Budget recently. Even though she stated that she did not want or need the extra loss damage waiver insurance, the rental agent informed her that her car insurance was “invalid” and that she needed Florida insurance to rent the car.

She reluctantly accepted the loss-damage waiver. On the flight home, she noticed that the paperwork stated she did not need the insurance. I contacted Budget, and Budget sent me a form denial, stating, “We have checked our records carefully and found that we offered you the LDW or CDW option, and you indeed signed the agreement.”

Can you help us get our money back? — Todd Ramsdell, Omaha, Neb.

Answer

It sounds as if Budget pulled a fast one on your wife. The employee’s statements contradict the company’s own website, which clearly says the loss-damage waiver is optional, and “if you don’t need LDW, don’t buy it.”

I don’t know what happened to your wife at the car rental counter, because I wasn’t there. But I’ve heard stories about the white lies car rental employees tell customers in tourist towns like Orlando and Las Vegas.

They apparently prey on people who look like they’re from out of town and don’t know any better, trying to upsell them on profitable insurance policies. By the time the scam is discovered, it’s too late — they’re on a plane back home. Out of sight, out of mind.

Is that what happened to your wife? Maybe. What I am certain about is this: She bought insurance she didn’t need.

Unnecessary insurance charges with Budget

Of course Budget’s records will show she signed the agreement. Everyone does. But Budget can’t know what the employee told your wife before she did, and that’s the important thing. Did Budget refuse to rent her a car until she purchased the loss-damage waiver agreement? (Related: Charged for insurance I never wanted — or needed.)

Allianz Travel Insurance has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to know your rights. Insurance is an optional product. Your wife was covered under her car insurance and chances are, her credit card offered her some protection, too. There’s no such thing as a Florida insurance requirement, at least as it applies to your wife’s rental. (Here’s what you need to know about travel insurance.)

I contacted Budget on your behalf. It called you, apologized, and refunded your wife’s insurance policy.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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