Car renter hit with $4,300 bill despite paying for insurance
A Vancouver man trusted that the $26 he paid for collision insurance on his rental van would cover him, until he learned the fine print was being used against him.
Berk Kansu's headache began when he scraped the side paneling of the cargo van he was renting. He estimated there was roughly $500 to $1,000 damage.
He had paid Discount Car and Truck Rentals $25.99 for the day for the collision damage waiver.
When Kansu returned the vehicle after hours, he says he left a note about the damage and his credit card was billed $1,000 for the deductible. He thought he matter was settled, until he received a demand letter from Discount’s lawyer two months laterstating that he owed more than $4,300.
“It was a real shock," said Kansu.
Discount cited the fine print on the insurance document that stated: 'does not include coverage: if loss and damage is not reported to Discount and nearest police department at the time of the loss within 24 hours of the time of loss.'
Bruce Cran with the Consumers' Association of Canada says it's ridiculous to expect a police report for this type of single vehicle damage.
“It’s just not acceptable. They're asking for something that virtually cannot be obtained," said Cran.
And when CTV News asked the Vancouver Police Department, it was vague as to whether police would provide a report either.
Lawyer Sean Lerner deals with insurance companies all the time and says he’s never seen a clause like this.
“It's aggressive to use something like that to try to deny coverage," said Lerner, “[if it went to court] my bet would be the rental car company would not succeed against him.”
“We're not trying to rip him off or take his money it's the fact that we didn't know what happened," said the manager of the North Burnaby Discount location on a phone call with Ross McLaughlin.
Discount says they never got the note about the damage and needed more detail. However, it did process the claim the next day. Nobody at the local office in Burnaby wanted to talk to CTV News on camera, so McLaughlin reached out to Discount Car and Truck Rentals headquarters in Toronto.
Within days the company reversed everything. It offered to give Kansu back his $1,000 he paid for the deductible, and promised to drop the $4,300 claim. It also offered a $121 refund on his rental and a voucher for a future rental. Kansu told CTV News that Discount apologized for the situation and told him they were reviewing its insurance collision damage waiver policy in B.C.
"Coming to you guys definitely made a big difference," said Kansu, “You've been a big help. So that's a big thank you.!"
Discount told CTV News it would be more lenient about obtaining police reports on collision damage that doesn’t involve any other vehicles but it still would like customers to try and get one. The company says it is self insured and sets its own rules about deductibles and the rates it charges for the collision damage waiver.
However, there are cheaper alternatives. ICBC recommends you buy your own insurance to cover rental cars.
Autoplan brokers sell it for about $10 a day. Or if you have a premium plan on your own vehicle it may cover rental cars too. Some credit cards also offer collision damage waiver if you use your card to pay for the rental.