What can happen if your rental car is stolen

A San Antonio man could be stuck paying thousands of dollars after his rental car was stolen.

SAN ANTONIO — When someone swerved into Quinton Hoover’s Chrysler in January, he needed another way to get around. The insurance provider for the other party paid for a rental at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  

But when that rental car suddenly disappeared, Enterprise wanted Hoover to foot the bill. 

The rental car was a Kia Optima. That model was already one of the most stolen vehicles in San Antonio and Hoover walked out of his apartment two weeks later to find his rental didn’t fare any better. 

Hoover said Enterprise found their vehicle in Eagle Pass with a busted window and the ignition taken apart. Then they sent him a bill for $5,688.29 to cover the damage, the towing and storage of the vehicle, and others fees. Hoover couldn’t believe it.  

“You park the car go to sleep and in the morning it’s gone, and then they point the finger at you.” Hoover said. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone could say that I’m at fault.”

Still, under the terms and conditions of the Enterprise contract Hoover did have an issue. The fine print of the contract stated, “Except to the extent restricted, modified or limited by State law, Renter accepts responsibility for damage to, loss, modification or theft of, Vehicle, Optional Accessories or any part or accessory occurring during the Rental Period regardless of fault or negligence of Renter or any other person or act of God. Renter shall pay Owner the amount necessary to repair Vehicle or Optional Accessories.”

Insurance Council of Texas Communications Director Richard Johnson told KENS 5 this is not unusual in Texas. He said the driver is often still on the hook for repairs even if the rental was paid for though someone else’s insurance. 

“The renter of the car, even if it is a courteously vehicle from an insurance company, is responsible for that vehicle,”  Johnson said. 

To avoid this situation, Johnson said drivers should find out if their personal car insurance policy includes a provision for damage to rental vehicles or other provision that would apply. If they don’t have it, rental companies will sometimes offer additional insurance or a damage waiver that can limit the drivers liability at an additional cost.

“Consider the optional insurance that they have. It is expensive and it can sometimes double the cost of your car on a daily basis, but it’s that added peace of mind to have in your back pocket,” Johnson said. 

Hoover doesn’t remember if the damage waiver was offered or not but hopes other renters can avoid the same situation. He suggests other drivers ask about an additional damage waiver or insurance policy just in case. Enterprise offers an “Optional Damage Waiver” that limits the driver’s liability.

“It would be extremely vital to have this information, even if just a projected cost,” Hoover said. “If you don’t get this supplemental coverage, you could be liable in excess of $5000. It’s a pretty big shock.”

Hoover said he will also think twice before renting that model of Kia, or other commonly stolen vehicles, ever again. 

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