Rental car damage and insurance issues

<p>Last August I rented a car from Alamo when I brought my daughter to college. I rented with American Express and declined the insurance from Alamo. I had saved all the paperwork. About six weeks later I received a letter from Alamo claiming damage to the vehicle. I contacted American Express and they have been dealing with the issue. One interesting twist - my daughter had memorized the license plate (since we had to provide it at every hotel we stayed in) and I provided that to Am Ex from memory. The claim submitted from Alamo had a DIFFERENT license plate number. American Express would email me monthly indicating the status and Alamo NEVER submitted the required documentation. It is now 9 months later and I haven't heard anything for a while. I have to wonder if Alamo had a 'permanently damaged' vehicle they would claim multiple times. I now take photos whenever I rent (including the license plate). I also should probably check the VIN too!</p>

<p>American Express was great. They just needed proof that I waived ALL insurance and then they took over.</p>

<p>Rental companies can charge for loss of use to a vehicle and your personal insurance may or may not cover that charge, even if damage is covered. Always check with your insurance company because their policies can even vary by rental company.</p>

<p>Bill</a> for rental car trapped 43 days by flood: $871</p>

<p>Given that Claude Hite drove a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser for only four days and 431 miles, his bill of nearly $900 might seem steep.</p>

<p>Or fairly reasonable, considering that the car sat for 43 days in Olympic National Park, trapped when an early November flood washed out part of the only road into the Hoh Rain Forest.</p>

<p>Hite, a Tampa, Fla., resident who had been on a camping trip to Washington with a friend, feared that the car would be stuck until spring, with rental charges accruing daily.</p>

<p>But Thrifty Car Rental at Sea-Tac Airport retrieved its car Dec. 19 after the park had a temporary bridge installed over a missing 75-foot-long, 25-foot-deep section of Hoh Road above West Twin Creek.</p>

<p>This week, Hite is contemplating his charges: $12 a day for Thrifty's loss of use of the car, $200 for towing and $47 for a damaged side mirror. He also was charged $108 for the four days he drove the car before the flood.</p>

<p>The total bill is $871. Had Thrifty held Hite to his original 17-day rental agreement, then added its weekly or daily rate until it got its car back, the bill could have exceeded $1,400, including towing and damage charges.</p>

<p>And Hite could have faced even higher out-of-pocket expenses, since the mid-December windstorm that walloped Western Washington felled trees in the park, including one that apparently caused the mirror damage but otherwise missed the car.</p>

<p>"We lucked out in a lot of ways," Hite's wife, Pat, said by telephone from Florida. "I'm not going to do a lot of complaining. It could have been much worse."</p>

<p>Thrifty "basically billed our cost of the car" but less than what it could have charged, said Greg MacKenzie, the local franchise's risk manager. "Due to extraordinary circumstances, we're going to be fair."</p>

<p>The park didn't have the one-lane, temporary bridge installed just to rescue the rental car or two other stranded vehicles owned by a ranger and a volunteer.</p>

<p>The main purpose was to allow staff to bring fuel for generators heating park buildings and exhibits to prevent mildew, and to give repair crews access to the road and downed power lines.</p>

<p>Hoh Road could be open to the public by late winter, though a permanent road repair might not be completed until summer, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said.</p>

<p>Once it got its PT Cruiser back, Thrifty put it back in service.</p>

<p>OK, just one more story ....</p>

<p>It's easy to complain about Alamo ... I've done it myself. But here's a positive experience.</p>

<p>In August 2005 DW took DD to New Orleans for the start of her freshman year. DW rented from Alamo (humming "a three hour cruise") and escaped across Lake Pontchartrain just ahead of Katrina. When it was clear a return to New Orleans wasn't practical, DW booked a flight home out of Birmingham. When she turned the car in the counter staff insisted she owed a "not returned to original site" fee. DW explained that that (a) the evacuation was mandatory, (b) the New Orleans location was closed, and (c) the New Orleans location was under six feet of water. These arguments were not accepted.</p>

<p>When DW arrived back home she called Alamo service and explained the situation. The lady was very nice. "Alamo doesn't believe in taking advantage of our customers' misfortunes. Thank you for taking care of our car." The extra fee was waived.</p>

<p>@post 22 above, it's not the same story as a day or two off the road for a minor dent (which I still would challenge if charged for time off the road for a minor dent). The rental company did not get the car back from the renter in that story - not the same at all.</p>

<p>In the Katrina story, wouldn't it have been so tacky to have kept the charge? She did bring the car back after all...</p>