Collision coverage fails rental car customer – company sends $3,700 bill for minor dent
The next time a rental car company tries to sell you collision coverage, take a really good look at the fine print.
Dave Angelski says he was surprised to get stuck with a $3,700 bill for a minor dent, six months after renting a vehicle in Calgary, even though he’d paid Discount Car and Truck Rentals about $20 per day for collision coverage.
He believes the dent happened overnight in a parking lot and he says he didn’t see it until he returned the car in the morning.
“It didn’t look bad at all. We didn’t even notice it. They didn’t even notice it until they did the walk around,” said Angelski.
A Discount employee filled out an incident report and listed it as a scrape and dent at a cost of about $1,000.
“She said 'it’s all good, we’ll take care of it' and they put us in a shuttle and sent us off to the airport,” Angelski added.
The deductible on his collision coverage was supposed to be $1,000 but he says the employee told him she’d discount it to $250.
But six months later he got a demand letter from Discount Car and Truck Rentals to pay for all the damage in addition to another $1,000 they charged for the deductible.
So now he was out $1,250 for the deductible and facing a bill of $3,742. Why?
Discount cited the fine print that stated: "C.D.W. does not include coverage d) if Loss or Damage is not reported to DISCOUNT and nearest Police Department at the time of loss within 24 hours of the time of loss."
Angelski says no one told him he needed to file a police report and when CTV News Vancouver checked with the City of Calgary, we learned you don’t need to report a minor collision to police unless it’s a hit-and-run, there are injuries or the damage is more than $2,000.
“I wasn’t trying to hide it at all,” said Angelski.
And when CTV News Vancouver called the Calgary location, where he rented the vehicle, we were told by an employee that minor dents or collisions that don’t involve another vehicle or people, would not need require a customer to have a police report.
“No as long as he didn’t hit anybody or no one else involved,” said the employee on the phone.
CTV News Vancouver showed Angelski’s paperwork to litigation lawyer Sean Lerner.
“I don’t think this is fair,” said Lerner, “There’s a duty to deal with your customers in good faith and I don’t see that here.”
Lerner has seen it before. Two years he commented on similar issue involving another Discount customer who complained to CTV News. In that case Discount Car and Truck Rentals reversed all the charges and compensated the customer for the hassle.
But this time around Discount is not budging, despite what one of its Calgary representatives told CTV News about getting a police report, the company's head office sent us a statement:
"The incident report in question is part of our normal process for our customer service staff to initiate a formal appraisal process when damage is done to our vehicles. The actual damage amount cannot be determined until the process is completed.
As per our previous response, in our rental agreement, it states that a customer is responsible to report an accident or an incident to the police. This is in compliance with the provincial law in Alberta.
Customer satisfaction is our top priority. We encourage customers to ask us questions when completing the car rental process to thoroughly understand their rental agreements," said Barry Singer, the senior vice-president of governance and capital management for Discount Car and Truck Rentals, in an email to CTV News Vancouver.
Even though Discount is not giving up its demand for payment, after CTV News contacted the company, it realized it had overcharged Angelski for the deductible and credited back $250.
You can buy your own rental car insurance coverage and it's a lot cheaper than what the rental car companies charge. ICBC offers it for $10 a day. Also, in B.C., a police report is not required for collisions where there are no injuries and damage.
But you better check the fine print of your collision damage waiver – it may differ, and you don't want to give the rental car company, or the credit card company offering the insurance, an excuse to deny your claim.