Rental Car Damage with Declined Insurance. Now what?
November 12, 2010 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I damaged the bumper on a rental car, what do I do now?

2010 Chevy Impala, cracked/ripped a chunk of the lower front bumper panel while doing a U turn in a park. I declined the rental insurance because I believe my credit card covers me for most stuff (Master Card with a rental insurance add-on, if that helps). How should I approach this? Call the rental agency first, call the credit card company? Get an estimate? Wait to see if they notice (they will).
posted by furtive to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Yes and Yes, Call the rental company, then call the card company. You will not be the one to fix the car or pay for the damage if it is covered; so no need to get an estimate.
posted by Felex at 2:09 PM on November 12, 2010

Return the car as normal. The rental car company should catch it on the return inspection, then they will probably get an estimate for repair. You would have the option of paying out of pocket or submitting it to your Mastercard insurance. Make sure you read the fine print on the credit card insurance; they may have a time limit on claims or other caveats.

At least, that's what happened when I damaged a rental car from Enterprise. I opted to pay out of pocket.
posted by cabingirl at 2:12 PM on November 12, 2010

I'd return it and see what happens when they notice. I don't think there's *any* benefit to being proactive here.....
posted by pjaust at 2:18 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

The credit card insurance thing is widely misunderstood due to weasel clauses they put in the fine print which requires you to exhaust any insurance benefits available to you before tapping them. You may have to pay for this from your own auto insurance or out of pocket. You may want to inspect that benefit more closely.
posted by crapmatic at 2:19 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with pjaust here. In this situation a reactive stance is the appropriate one. Who knows, you may even get once of those relaxed car return people who doesn't even look at the thing.
posted by rhymer at 2:32 PM on November 12, 2010

I was in your exact situation. I called my credit card company first, filed a claim, filled out the accident report form that's attached to the rental contract (and filled in the the credit card's claim number since I already had one). When I returned the car I gave them the accident report form. I got a letter about 3 months later from the car rental company stating that the costs to repair were $xxx.xx and that the claim had been paid in full by my credit card company. I don't own a car, so there was no issue of whether another form of insurance would have to be exhausted or not.

It was all pretty easy, but I think it's probably fine to just do nothing and handle it afterwards if you want, because the insurance situation would be exactly the same if they find out later.
posted by helios at 2:39 PM on November 12, 2010

What helios said. But don't wait to tell your credit card company because late notice is a reason for them not to pay under most credit card contracts.
posted by bearwife at 2:54 PM on November 12, 2010

What does the car rental agreement say to do in this instance? I'm pretty sure there's a clause in there regarding what to do in case of an accident.
posted by eastofottawa at 5:06 PM on November 12, 2010

It sounds like yours may be worse than the damage I did to a rental bumber, but I was also worried about what they would charge. After reading other AskMe threads about the gouging incurred on repair, I
1) took a lot of pictures to show extent of damage and scale
2) drove it by an auto-body place for a quick estimate. Apparently I'm not the first person they'd seen with a rental, either...
In the end, they accepted the car and I never heard anything about it. I encourage you to do these things in any case. The time investment is small, but it could save you a bit of money.
posted by whatzit at 1:43 AM on November 13, 2010

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