The travel troubleshooter

I waited too long to file a car rental claim

 

christopher@elliott.org

Q. I recently rented a car from Budget in Ontario, Calif. When I returned the vehicle, a representative claimed that I scraped the bottom of the front bumper on the passenger side of the car.

I did not cause this damage and told him I wanted to dispute the claim. He gave me a form to complete and told me not to do anything — including notifying my insurance company — until I heard back from Budget.

I received a letter from Budget in February, stating that I would be held responsible for the damage. I immediately notified my credit card insurance company, through which my rental was covered.

To make a long story short, my credit card company is denying the claim because it was filed on the 46th day after the incident, even though I filed the claim the same day that I was notified I was being held responsible.

When I called the Budget facility directly, the manager told me I needed to find out why the Budget claims adjustor, who is a contract employee, didn’t notify me until 6 1/2 weeks after the incident, saying that I should have been notified within three to four weeks.

My take on this is that the Budget claims adjustor took what should have been a viable claim and negated it by not following the timeline Budget has for notifying customers. I’ve filed an appeal with my credit card insurance, including a timeline of events. Any advice you could provide would be gratefully accepted.

Susan Young

Lopez Island, Wash.

I’m suspicious about a few items in this claim. First, there’s the mysterious damage to the bottom of the front bumper. I’m not saying the bill was bogus, but I’ve handled many car rental damage claims where an employee discovered previously unseen damage to either the underside of the vehicle or the roof.

Second, there’s the lag time between your return and your claim. A damage claim should be sent in within four weeks or less. What took Budget so long? Add that to the directions you received on the damage claim, and I had little choice but to ask Budget to review your case. I’ll have the outcome in just a second.

But before I go there, I have a little advice for you. Always, always take a photo of your rental car before you rent it and afterward. These will prove (or disprove) any damage claim. Car rental companies ought to be photographing their cars, anyway, and thankfully, some are.

Also, if you believe there might be a damage claim — even if it’s not your fault — you’ll want to notify your insurance company immediately when you return a car with reported damage. Your credit card requires you to report any claim within 45 days. The contract employee you spoke with was incorrect.

Budget dropped its claim against you.

Read more Travel Troubleshooter stories from the Miami Herald

  • The travel troubleshooter

    My wife is in intensive care — what about her airline ticket?

    Q: Earlier this year, I booked flights with Expedia on Icelandair for a trip to Paris and London for my wife and me. It was to be in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. Since the day I bought the tickets, my wife was stricken with a very serious bacterial infection and has been in the intensive care unit at the hospital. If she can recover, she will be in rehabilitation for several months and will not be able to go on the trip.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    An empty vacation package from Expedia

    Q: I’m writing you about our problems with a vacation package we booked on Expedia to Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    Where’s the refund for my Air France ticket?

    Q: I’m a graduate student at the University of Texas and I was recently awarded a fellowship to conduct research for two months in Ibadan, Nigeria. Believing that I would be departing from New York and then returning to Austin, Texas, I booked the trip in two legs. However, knowing that this could change, I reviewed the refund policies for both legs carefully to make sure the tickets were refundable.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category