Who pays when a rental car gets stolen?

It’s summertime. The sun is blazing, the sky is blue, and you come back to your hotel to find that your rental car was stolen. It’s not your fault, but that doesn’t matter because you signed a contract with a rental car agency. What if the unthinkable happened and your rental car was stolen while you were on vacation?

NewsWorks has noticed from time to time that even in the 14th District, which covers Germantown, Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill, occasionally someone gets their rental car ripped off.


Stolen rental car reports

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*July 18, 2011 – 5100 block Sheldon St. – 2011 Nissan Sentra stolen. Complainant said the car was a rental. 

*March 23, 2011 – 1200 block E. Stafford St. – 2011 Chevy Impala stolen. Complainant said he left the keys in the ignition of his rental car. He said he had been receiving prank phone calls about the car and so initially thought the theft was a prank.

*March 14, 2011 – 1900 block 73rd Ave. – 2010 Chevy Impala was stolen, but later recovered. Complainant said he left the keys to the rental car on a step near the parked car while he was at the location. The vehicle was heavily damaged when it was recovered.

November 12, 2010 – 6900 block Rodney St. – 2010 Chevy Impala stolen. The car was a rental from AVIS Car Rental.


Who pays?

We wondered; if this was to happen, who’s going to get in the most trouble? Would it be the rental company, the renter, or the criminal once they’ve been caught? Would the rental car insurance offered to them even be needed in the first place?

NewsWorks sought out the rental car agency Enterprise in Germantown to find out the truth.

“Essentially, whenever a contract, or whenever a rental goes out, the renter’s signing for that car,” said George, a Risk Management Coordinator at Enterprise. He further added that the renter is responsible for all areas covered by the contract. What Enterprise does to address such dire situations is suggest another alternative.

“What we do have (is) protection packages that if it were legitimately stolen and they (the renter) had secured the key, if they had our coverage on the car it would come to that,” said George.

If that alternative doesn’t work, there are other avenues as well.

“We’d go through their insurance company if they had personal car insurance.”

By now it’s pretty clear that at least for Enterprise they want to attempt to come to a solution to such an unfortunate problem.

If the car renter doesn’t have car insurance then that person would be denied protection from Enterprise and the responsibility would fall on the renter.

The only possible way the blame wouldn’t go to the renter is if he or she would purchase their collision damage waiver along with securing the key, George explained.So as long as the renter has the key to the rented vehicle, it’s the companies, or in this case Enterprises, issue.

Why must the key be secured? In cases beyond control of the driver, shouldn’t there be some form of compensation? George explains.

“There could be an unauthorized driver. They could have just given somebody else the car, or lost the key to the car. We’re just asking that they look after our assets.”

If the stolen rental car is recovered and there’s no damage, and by summer’s grace the criminal is caught with the car, then, assuming they have Enterprise’s coverage, the culprit will be prosecuted.

“It’s kind of like if your personal car was stolen. You’d file a comprehensive claim, and it goes to your car insurance,” said George.

The biggest mistake people make is assuming they’re safe at all times, even when enjoying good times. For all you know while you’re on the beach that hotel room or your rental car could be taken, broken into, or damaged to an extreme extent. As long as common sense is involved and proper safety measures are taken into account, all we can do is roll the dice and live life the way we want to live.

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