Marilina Santoro’s case presents a stark reminder: Before you sign a car rental agreement, review it carefully to make sure you’re not being charged for any unwanted optional extras.
When Dollar’s agent asked Santoro if she wanted insurance coverage, she replied “No.” So why did charges for two types of additional coverage show up on her bill?
On June 14, Santoro rented a Jeep Compass from Dollar Rent A Car at the Atlanta airport. When the rental agent asked her if she wanted to include the insurance coverage for the car, Santoro said “No.” Unfortunately, she was in a hurry to get to her destination and did not look at the contract before signing it and accepting the car. The agreement showed an additional Liability Insurance Supplement and Uninsured Motorist coverage. Together, those two additional insurance options added $168 to her final bill. Now she wants Dollar to refund those insurance charges.
No one likes unpleasant surprises in the form of unexpected charges on a bill. That is especially so when you believe those charges are not justified. But Santoro’s signature on the rental agreement carries more weight with the car rental company than what she remembers saying to their rental agent.
She phoned Dollar but got nowhere. Then she emailed customer relations at Hertz using the company contacts information on our site. (Hertz is Dollar’s parent company.) Writing to them got Santoro a written reply, but not the refund she hoped for.
The letter said in part:
I certainly regret any misunderstanding regarding the charges billed. I have reviewed all of the charges billed on your rental invoice and have concluded the billing for this rental is correct based on the rate and options you accepted at the time of rental. A copy of the signed rental agreement has been provided for your review.
Santoro is not happy that the letter from Hertz does not mention her claim that she verbally declined the coverage. However, Hertz can only review what’s in writing, which is the signed rental agreement.
We did reach out to Dollar as a follow-up, but haven’t heard back from Santoro about whether the insurance charges were refunded.
The additional insurance and damage waiver coverages that rental car companies offer are just that, optional offers. They are not requirements. If you are sure your personal insurance and/or credit card provide you with the additional protection you might need in case of damage to the rental car or other loss, then you can decline the coverage. Car rental agreements generally have separate lines that you initial to indicate that you are declining their optional insurance coverage. It only takes a moment to look at those lines and write your initials on the agreement. Otherwise, those charges could show up on your final bill.
I’m sure most of us have been in situations where we have been in a hurry to get into our rental car and out of the airport. The small amount of time you save by not reviewing the rental agreement can cost you – as Santoro found out.