If you’ve ever been contacted about damage to a rental car, you are familiar with the damage claim process. It’s a headache. But…it’s also avoidable. That's why we've compiled some tips to help you with your car rental.
Before you rent a car on your next weekend excursion, family wedding, or vacation, take a few precautionary steps to protect yourself from unnecessary headaches associated with your travel.
This is one time that it’s okay to ignore your dad’s advice to always reject the attempted up-sell. While you may save a few dollars by not paying for the added protection on your rental car, the savings comes with a risk to your wallet and your peace of mind. Damage to a rental car isn’t always noticed (or claimed) at the time that the car is returned. It’s only when the car is taken in for cleaning that a thorough inspection of the car’s condition is completed. This can take weeks (and even months!) to complete, leaving you, the renter, on the hook financially for any damage that’s spotted.
Before you ever pull out of the parking lot with your rental car, be sure that you’ve thoroughly documented the condition of your car. No ding or scratch is insignificant. No shrug from a rental car agent about a scuff or scar on the vehicle should be seen as a pass. Take pictures, and even videos, of your car before you ever get behind the wheel. Make sure your images and videos are timestamped! And be sure those images are stored for at least 6 months.
The fine print on a rental car contract often includes language about the liabilities of driving on unpaved streets. And since few people ever actually read fine print, it leaves them exposed to potential financial responsibility.
If you are driving a rental car that is damaged in any way, whether by you or by someone else, report it to your rental car company immediately. Some people think that getting their rental car through the inspection that occurs at the point of return is all it takes to put the rental car contract behind them. Any damage that’s discovered by the rental car company to the car that you rented will be your responsibility. Reporting it will allow the rental car company to track the damage and liability as close to the incident as possible, allowing their to be greater clarity and reporting of important incident details.
Go through the same thorough documentation process you went through when you picked the car up. Every shot and every angle. This will protect you from any false claims (which are rare, but still happen). And save those time-stamped pictures and videos just like you save the others.
This point has been made a few times. But it’s about more than keeping your pictures and videos. Keep track of your rental agreement as well. The more information you can keep track of and the more details you can have access to, the better protected you are from the vulnerabilities of a damage claim.
Have you been contacted about damage to a rental car? If so, don't avoid their calls. The people on the other side of the phone want a resolution just as much as you do. A conversation, coupled with the documentation and pictures from your rental, will help a resolution come quickly.
If damage happens when you're renting, you don't want to be caught without the proper protections in place. Following these tips will give you a much better chance of avoiding the headaches often associated with renting a car.