When chip happens, who should pay?

By | October 9th, 2015

You’re driving down the road and suddenly, thwack!

A rock flies up and hits your windshield.

It’s such a loud crack that you cringe, thinking the glass is going to spider-shatter at any moment. But no, it’s a chip.

That’s what happened to Robert Kidary in Colorado. He was driving a rental car when it occurred, and the rental car company expects him to pay for it.

“No matter where you drive, there are always little rocks or pebbles from passing trucks, the asphalt breaking apart, or shopping carts rolling into the car you’re renting. Some things are unavoidable. My question is, why should a renter be held accountable for something that is unavoidable?”

Kidary argued about paying for the chip, and the rental car company dropped the claim.

Research online points to one conclusion: The consumer is responsible for damage to a car while they are renting it. And the charges may be higher than if you took it to be repaired at your local shop. The charges could include the following:

Windshield Replacement $150-$500 (sometimes more if the window has a special shape);
Loss of Use (Daily Charge assessed when the car won’t make a profit for the time it is “out of service”); and an administrative fee (which may be at the discretion of the rental car company).

These types of incidents do occur in the normal course of events, and if you were driving your own car and the windshield chipped, you would expect to pay for it. It stands to reason that the same logic would apply to a rental car.

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Although Kidary doesn’t specify which rental car company he dealt with, Hertz’s Rental Terms state, “When you rent a vehicle from Hertz, you are responsible for returning that vehicle to Hertz in the same condition it was in at the start of the rental, with the exception of fair wear and tear.” Windshields are not included in “fair wear and tear,” as they are specifically called out as items covered under their rental insurance.

There are a multitude of complaints (including on our forums) about people being unjustly charged for damages to their rental cars. These companies are concerned with their profit and loss, and do not want to absorb the charges, so they may employ whatever methods they can to get their customers to offset these costs; sometimes legitimately, sometimes not. And similar to what Kidary experienced, when customers challenge the charges or ask for proof, many times the rental car companies back off and drop the claim. However, others are worried about their credit being damaged or don’t have the time to fight the claim, and it gets paid.

Kidary feels that rental car companies are nickel and diming their customers. Do you think these rental car companies should absorb damages like chips, dents, flat tires, etc.?

Who should pay for cracked windshields or flat tires on rental cars?

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