Am I actually going to get in trouble if I drive this car?
January 14, 2008 5:41 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are taking a trip. She's 27, I'm 24. We're renting a car in her name. What are the consequences if she doesn't tell Hertz about me, but I drive anyway?

For her to add me as an authorized driver, it's going to increase the price by fifty bucks ($10/day). My initial thought is that, as a driver with 8 years of experience and a spotless driving record, we should just not tell Hertz of my existence and proceed along normally. What are the possible negative consequences if we were to do such a thing? (Traveling from Michigan to Oklahoma, by the way.)

Here's what Hertz has to say:

Authorized Operators

Acceptable Authorized Operators age 25 and older are automatically covered on the Rental Agreement.
Authorized Operators are:
- The employer, employee or fellow employee of renter on company business, (when booking includes company Corporate Discount Number).
- The renter's spouse for rentals that originate in California, Iowa, New York or Nevada.
- Authorized Operators do not have to be present at time of rental.
- There are no fees for Authorized Operators.

Additional Authorized Operators
- Individuals not automatically covered on the Rental Agreement as Authorized Operators noted above may be signed on as an "Additional Authorized Operator" (AAO). AAO's must be present and may be signed on to the rental agreement at the time of rental or during the rental at any US corporate location.
- An applicable driving record verification will be performed on the AAO.
- Renter and each AAO must be present to sign Rental Agreement, present an acceptable credit card or debit card (if renting city accepts debit cards) in their own name, or a current round-trip ticket (air, train or bus), show valid driver's license, and must be a minimum of 25 years of age.

Additional Authorized Operators Fees
USD 10.00 per day, maximum USD 50.00 per rental, for each Additional Authorized Operator.
posted by soonertbone to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total)
If you don't get pulled over or into an accident (i.e., you don't get caught), nothing happens. If something does happen, then the shit hits the fan and you're screwed.
posted by roomwithaview at 5:45 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

$10 a day is nothing compared to the shit you'd have to deal with if anything bad occurs. This could be something totally outside your power - like another car hitting you.
posted by gnutron at 5:50 PM on January 14, 2008

This is somewhat random, but my bank (a small credit union) has a deal with a national car rental agency where credit union members get a discount on rentals, and with that deal there is no additional fee for people under age 25. Maybe some organization you're part of has something similar, which would solve your problem.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:53 PM on January 14, 2008

Avis recently lowered their minimum age to 21. Their additional driver fee is $9/day, but is waived for "renter's mate, life companion, significant other, live-in or similar". What's interesting is that they still require that additional drivers are 25. So, you could rent the car in your name, and add her as an additional driver, and you'll be 100% legit, and may be able to save the additional driver charge as well.
posted by zsazsa at 5:57 PM on January 14, 2008

It's not worth the risk. Pay the $50 or don't drive the car. Imagine some uninsured person hits you, and you or your girlfriend end up liable for the cost of the rental car.
posted by desjardins at 5:58 PM on January 14, 2008

Sounds to me like you actually can't even be added as an authorized operator because you're not 25? Maybe it's a different fee structure if you're under 25?

The shit hitting the fan is you being involved in an accident for which you are not insured. You don't need much of an imagination to figure out how that could be a rather ruinous experience. Of course you'll probably be fine if you don't tell Hertz and just drive anyway - but you're playing a kind of reverse lottery where there is a small probability of a huge negative result, and a relatively small gain up front.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:59 PM on January 14, 2008

p.s. on top of desjardins. Imagine some you hit some uninsured person and are at fault, and are stuck paying damages in the multi-millions. thanks mom for instilling all that fear, who knew it would come in handy!
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2008

You are likely not covered by the rental company's standard insurance policy if you are not an authorized driver. So doing this is really no different than driving without insurance in any circumstance -- it will probably be fine, but Zod help you if you get in an accident and are remotely at fault.
posted by brain_drain at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2008

Just to reiterate, you won't be in trouble with Hertz (unless they decide to sue you for the cost of the car if you damage it) but you WILL be in trouble with the law as you will be uninsured.

(Assuming you aren't somewhere that doesn't care if you are uninsured).

So it's not Hertz you are risking upsetting, just to put that into perspective. If you are otherwise insured (I'm insured on our company credit card for any vehicle) I'd drive it anyway and not worry about it. But I'd never knowingly drive uninsured.
posted by Brockles at 6:02 PM on January 14, 2008

I am a member of National car rental's Emerald Club and one of the perks is that there's no charge for AAOs. Check if Hertz has a similar deal (for AAA members? For members of some frequent flyer program? etc.)

Is it really a make-or-break price for you? Maybe you could keep hunting and find a deal that's $10 a day cheaper before the additional fee.
posted by winston at 6:06 PM on January 14, 2008

You might be the best driver in the world, but other people are not. I was rear-ended by someone on an easy two lane road. He bent down for his Slurpee and did not see the traffic stopped ahead because someone was making a left hand turn. The accident did thousands of dollars of damage to the rental car and the other driver was cited but it was still a lot of paperwork. If I were you, I'd pony up the $10 a day. It isn't worth the hassle if something happens. Your girlfriends credit card might have rental car coverage automatically as one of the perks, but that perk is most likely voided if someone else is driving the car.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:13 PM on January 14, 2008

It's $50. For added bonus points, take the optional insurance. It may seem silly until you find yourself in a situation where you need it and didn't get it. If you get into any kind of accident in a rental car without insurance, you're going to be surprised at how quickly you think, "We're fucked."
posted by knowles at 6:25 PM on January 14, 2008

Pay the $50. You will regret the fuck out of not paying the $50 if anything happens. Just save $50 elsewhere either before or after your trip. Don't drink for a week, whatever. It's not worth it!
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pay it, or you'll spend the whole trip worrying about it.
posted by rokusan at 6:41 PM on January 14, 2008

PercussivePaul is right -- It looks like in addition to the $10/day fee for an additional driver, you will also end up paying a daily fee for being under 25. From here:

"Age Differential Charge Policy

At corporate locations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas Hertz will rent selected car class vehicles (Prestige Collection and some other models excluded) to customers who are age 21-24 with the following per day Age Differential Charge in addition to the normal rental rate.

All states except New York, age 21-24

Economy Car, Compact Car, Intermediate Car, Standard Car, Fullsize Car, Intermediate Sport, Economy Special, Fullsize Sport USD 27.00 per day

Other Car Classes (some models excluded)
USD 37.00 per day"

This sucks and probably feels unfair, and I'm sure you are a great driver, but it is absolutely not worth the risk to take a 1,000+-mile trip in a rental car with no insurance and total liability.
posted by Siobhan at 6:53 PM on January 14, 2008

If possible, shop around until you find a place that does not have the restrictions on under-25s. College towns will certainly have at least a couple. First try the independent places, then try the "least affiliated looking" of the big chains, if you know what I mean.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2008

NOBODY thinks this is a good idea. And NOBODY is wrong, either.
posted by hexatron at 7:28 PM on January 14, 2008

thanks mom for instilling all that fear, who knew it would come in handy!
PercussivePaul, are you my brother?

soonertbone shop around for a rental car deal where you can legitimately drive. In all likelihood, you'd get away with it no problem. However, if you get in an accident, the downside risk is huge.
posted by 26.2 at 8:44 PM on January 14, 2008

There is one *VERY* small work-around you might try. When GF is renting the car, have her add you as an additional driver. DO NOT ask about additional driver fees, just have her say that you will be an additional driver.

I rent with Hertz almost constantly and often am adding additional drivers when I'm traveling on pleasure (most of my rentals are biz where I don't have to add my coworkers as they're already covered). Very often, they will just take your driver's license, copy it, add you to the contract, and never stop to bother asking your age / adding the fee to the contract. If you look old enough, and can pull this off, you are then on the contract (sans the +$50 bucks), and legally covered in the same manner as your girlfriend (their mistake for not checking).

If they mention the fee when you ask to be added, then act surprised, and either suck it up and pay the fee, or don't, and whatever you do - DO NOT DRIVE THE CAR IF YOU ARE NOT AN AUTHORIZED DRIVER ON THE CONTRACT.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:53 PM on January 14, 2008

Some people have their own auto insurance which covers them in rental cars. If you have a car, check your policy. Maybe ask your agent about that extra coverage. Also, some charge cards cover auto rental insurance, without the HUGELY excessive fees of the rental companies. Depriving car rental companies of these fees is a very good thing to do.
posted by Goofyy at 3:13 AM on January 15, 2008

allkindsoftime: Very often, they will just take your driver's license, copy it, add you to the contract, and never stop to bother asking your age / adding the fee to the contract. If you look old enough, and can pull this off, you are then on the contract (sans the +$50 bucks), and legally covered in the same manner as your girlfriend (their mistake for not checking).

Wouldn't his date of birth be right on his driver's license?
And would it matter anyway if the policy is in writing that you have to be 25+ to be covered?
It sounds like asking for problems.
posted by loiseau at 7:56 AM on January 15, 2008

I should say: right there in writing on the rental agreement that they are signing.
posted by loiseau at 7:56 AM on January 15, 2008

I never get the insurance and I almost always have someone else drive.

I've never had any problems.

I even had a minor dent on a car and they never noticed it. Also I burned the interior with a cigarette (never mind smoking in a car they told me not to smoke in.)

Nothing negative has ever happened to me because of these things. I usually use enterprise, but I've also used National and Budget.
posted by kpmcguire at 10:19 AM on January 15, 2008

« Older Stressed, only one week into term.   |   Films conceived by High Schoolers Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.