6 times when you’re better off without travel insurance

Even though Jon Look is a frequent traveler, he always leaves home without travel insurance.

“I have never purchased a travel insurance policy,” admits Look, a retired photographer. “It adds expense and complications and rarely pays off.”

Traveling without insurance? Yep, most Americans still do it, and some of them with good reason. Because not everyone needs insurance and some people wouldn’t be able to use it even if they bought it.

As it turns out, there are times when you’ll want to skip that insurance policy. It may not be as often as you think, but it happens. Read more “6 times when you’re better off without travel insurance”

Trip Mate cuts it close with definition of “pre-existing” condition

It doesn’t take much to incite the commenters on this site to recommend travel insurance. And while it’s true that a good insurance policy can protect your vacation investment, there are always exceptions like John Yuken. Read more “Trip Mate cuts it close with definition of “pre-existing” condition”

Maybe I shouldn’t have taken this case after all

When Stacy Mills rented a car from Alamo recently, she says the vehicle had “several minor scratches” on the front right door of the vehicle. Although she tried to report the damage, an employee waved her off, telling her not to worry.
Read more “Maybe I shouldn’t have taken this case after all”

Do car rental companies make it too hard to report pre-existing damage?

Question: Please help me with a bogus damage charge by Alamo. We picked up our car in Kona, Hawaii, at dusk and saw numerous small dents and dings and scratches on the vehicle. We couldn’t find a form to report the damage.
Read more “Do car rental companies make it too hard to report pre-existing damage?”

The Travel Troubleshooter: A “little dent” adds $500 to my car rental bill

Question: We rented a car from Enterprise in Phoenix. When we picked up the car, a representative inspected it with us. My husband noted a couple small marks, but she said we shouldn’t worry because “anything under four inches” was waived.

We drove on some dirt roads, so the car was quite dusty when we returned it and to say the representative eagerly went around the car like Sherlock Holmes looking for clues would be an understatement. She found a small scratch on the left rear bumper, which appeared to be possibly from someone backing into us, as we knew it wasn’t done by our usage.

Before one could blink, we were hauled over to the processing office and our $256 bill jumped to $772 — of course, taken from our credit card without our authorization. Trying to get through to the rep assigned to handle our claim is impossible as she never is available on the phone. But her assistant was very helpful in informing us that the bill for repairing what he even admitted from the photos was a small, quite insignificant flaw was more than $500.

When I challenged him on how in the world a small dent could cost $440 he said actually anything under a thousand from a shop is a bargain.

This is a total preplanned scam and the way the check-in rep went over ever square inch of the car with such enthusiasm there is little doubt these folks are being cut in for finding things wrong with the cars.

We are reasonable people and understand that even if someone backed into us if there was a small scratch we would be willing to pay a small amount to cover what is fair for repairing it. But more than $500, including an “administrative fee” is totally unacceptable. — Carri Schoeller, Orlando, Fla.

Answer: Your suspicions are understandable. Why would one employee waive you off, while another one goes over the car with a fine-tooth comb? And why deduct the $500 from your credit card immediately when the full repair costs aren’t known yet? Whatever happened to the damage estimate? Weren’t you entitled to receive a repair bill, detailing the work that had been done on your rental?
Read more “The Travel Troubleshooter: A “little dent” adds $500 to my car rental bill”

The Travel Troubleshooter: I signed the damage form — now they want me to pay

Question: My wife and I rented a minivan from Enterprise. Before signing the contract, an Enterprise representative and I looked around the vehicle for damage. We noticed some damage on the bumper in the rear of the vehicle and noted it on the contract.

I took good care of the minivan and we never parked in an area where the cars were close. I took extra special care of the rental and even vacuumed it before returning it.

When we returned the minivan, a young Enterprise employee inspected the interior and exterior. He noticed a light scratch on the rear bumper and asked the assistant manager — the same person who inspected the car when we picked it up — to take a look as well before documenting what he saw.

The damage was so minor that the assistant manager had to kneel down to get a closer look. Even if I had noticed this minor scratch during our initial inspection, I probably would not have pointed it out.

I asked to speak with the assistant manager’s boss and he informed me that it was simply a formality and that the light scratch could potentially be buffed out. He also mentioned that he would call me if a claim were necessary. I never got that call.

They did, in fact, complete a damage report and like an idiot, I signed it. The report simply states the damaged part of the vehicle as a long scratch and that I was not aware of its source.

A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from Enterprise requesting that we contact our insurance company to inform them of our claim or to contact them so that they may communicate the estimate for the damages to the minivan.

I believe the damage that was observed when I returned the vehicle was already there before I rented it. But I signed the damage report. Will it be hard to prove my side of the story with this error on my part? — Leigh Barber, Chicago

Answer: It depends on what you signed. If the form said you accepted responsibility for the scratch, then you’re responsible for it. But the manager’s assurance that it could be “buffed out” and his promise to call you if a claim were necessary, left you with the impression that the form was nothing more than a formality.
Read more “The Travel Troubleshooter: I signed the damage form — now they want me to pay”