How to Avoid Being Unfairly Charged for Rental Car Damage
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Many rental companies have a set inspection process to assess the condition of a rental car, and it's possible for an individual to be unfairly blamed for damage to a vehicle during a specific rental period.
When a car is within a renter’s possession, they assume liability for any damage, so it's important to guard against any misunderstandings about a rental car’s condition before, during, and after that rental period. You need to be especially careful if you opted out of rental car insurance.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid unfair rental car charges.
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Don't use car-sharing services
Car-sharing services are a relatively new way of leasing vehicles, and they have far lower rates than traditional rental car companies. This makes car-sharing an appealing option for those who want to lease instead of buy.
Unfortunately, car-sharing services do not have as many regulations to follow, or the staff to comprehensively document things like a leased car’s condition. It is far easier for scratches, stains, or even mechanical issues to go unnoticed, leaving the blame to fall to the next renter down the line.
A traditional rental company may cost a bit more, but the inspection and documentation procedures are more organized, reducing the chances you will be blamed for damage and hit with rental car charges.
Use video to document the car's condition
If a photo is worth a thousand words, then a video must be priceless. In reality, photos are far easier to alter than videos, and creative camera angles can hide points of interest. Take a video of the interior and exterior of a rented vehicle before you drive away and when you return it.
If possible, leave the key turned and catch a view of the time and date on the car’s dashboard as well. This helps to document the exact condition of the vehicle before and after you took possession.
Get any damage reported on paper
Note any damage you see to the rental car before you take possession of it, and make sure that it is written down and witnessed by the car’s owner or a rental representative. Include minor damage, including small stains on the upholstery or tiny dents.
If you notice anything (including mechanical issues) after you have taken possession, report it promptly. If the issue worsens, there is a record of it and you can avoid rental car charges.
Renting a car when out of town can save you money on transportation and give you the freedom to go where you want without waiting. There are risks, however, in assuming responsibility for a vehicle driven by multiple people. By taking the proper precautions before, during, and after renting a car, you can greatly reduce the chances of being hit with unfair rental car charges.
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