Am I on-the-hook for the rental car dent damage repairs?
Before you drive off the car rental lot
Before we address any dent damage you have on your rental car, we need to concentrate on the tenses. Where the dents or scratches on the rental already there BEFORE you rented the vehicle or did the damage happen while the rental was in your possession.
This is a VERY important detail that could change the entire outcome of this stressful circumstance.
The only way you will know if the dent damage was already there is if the car rental store documented any prior damage that was on the vehicle before it was in your possession. What if prior dent or scratch damage was accidentally missed or simply overlooked. This is where we suggest you become very proactive before you drive any rental car off of the lot.
Take pictures. Walk completely around the rental vehicle and look for ANY damage, not matter how small. Use your smart phone camera to capture existing damage. Better yet, take pictures of the entire vehicle one panel at a time.
Report any damage. If you do find any damage, make sure this is documented by the car rental agency before you drive it off the lot.
Get insurance. Before you take the rental car company up on their insurance offering, check with your insurance company. Check to see if your policy covers a rental. If it does not, get the insurance. This could save you thousands of dollars down the road.
What if you did dent or scratch the rental car and you DO have rental insured with your own policy?
First of all, contacting your insurance company before you rent is a must. Some credit card companies will even cover damages if you put the entire car rental on that card. You should also contact your credit card company to see if this is something they offer.
If you didn’t buy the insurance, the rental company is going to inspect the car with a fine tooth when you return it. If they do notice the damage, you can be sure they’ll charge you for it. In most cases, they will charge you more than if you got it repaired at your local paintless dent repair or auto body shop. This is how car rental agencies make money. We suggest if you know the rental was damaged while in your possession and you did not opt for their insurance or have rental insurance on your policy, get an estimate before you take it back.
What if I do have rental insurance included on my auto insurance policy?
If you contacted your insurance company before you rented the vehicle and were informed you do have rental insurance, the rental will be covered just as your policy covers your own vehicle.
What does this mean?
You’re liable for your deductible. If your return the rental with hail damage, dents and dings, or scratches – the rental shop will collect your deductible and process the claim through your insurance company. In other words, be prepared for that amount to be charged to your credit card upon return of the damaged vehicle.