Advice on How Not to Be Hit With Loss of Use Fees on a Rental Car After an Accident?

One of the benefits of renting a vehicle from a rental car company is that you usually get to drive a car, sport utility vehicle or van which typically ranges from fairly new to practically brand new — complete with that “new car” scent which greets you as you enter inside — and that the experience is typically free of cares and worries when all goes well…

Advice on How Not to Be Hit With Loss of Use Fees on a Rental Car After an Accident?

…but when that vehicle is involved in an accident, all of the dynamics change. Do you have the right automobile insurance coverage to protect you financially? Can you prove that you are not at fault for the incident? Are you liable for any damage which incurred on the property of other people?

Members of the management of some rental car companies seem to view what can already be a traumatic situation for a customer as an opportunity to profit by taking advantage of his or her fears and concerns to squeeze every penny out of him or her as possible. Arguably, one of those tactics is the loss of use fee, through which a rental car company purportedly loses the use of a vehicle to rent to other customers — and therefore loses the opportunity to continue to earn revenue off of the use of the car — while it is being repaired. The loss of use fee is an attempt to recover some — or all — of that supposed lost revenue…

…but that is assuming that the rental car company would have otherwise rented that car to a different customer during the time that the car is being repaired. For all anyone knows, that car might very well be sitting out on that lot, waiting for a customer to pay to use it — and there is no clear way for the customer who rented the damaged car to prove that in order to avoid paying the loss of use fee.

This is why I was rather intrigued by this advice which was imparted by FlyerTalk member IAHtraveler, who is a moderator of the Avis and Rental Cars forums on FlyerTalk:

One suggestion would be to try and make a reservation every week (for 1 week) at the location you returned the car to. Do this until they bill you and take screenshots of the vehicles available. Avis is notorious for hitting people with “loss of use” fees. However, if you can prove they were willing to rent a car every week at that location, you have proof they didn’t actually lose money by being sold out and down one car because yours was in the shop.

Summary

Rental car companies have been known to seemingly deceive customers on occasion — whether or not fixing this scratch on the wheel of a car was really worth approximately $600.00 is debatable; or being charged an extra full day when returning a car after hours as two of many examples — which is why reading this article pertaining to 13 tips on what you can do to prevent from being scammed by a rental car company might not be a bad idea before renting your next vehicle in order to better protect yourself.

I have never been knowingly assessed with a loss of use fee for renting a car — and I have literally rented hundreds of vehicles over the years — so I cannot comment from personal experience as to whether or not the advice imparted by FlyerTalk member IAHtraveler actually works.

Do you have any experience with that advice in order to avoid being charged with loss of use fees? If so, did it work — and do you believe that it is considered ethical?

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Advice on How Not to Be Hit With Loss of Use Fees on a Rental Car After an Accident?”

  1. Matt says:

    Terrible advice. Car rental outfits overbook. This does nothing to show that they actually have “extra” cars available.

  2. A says:

    Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with this issue. Though, I think that you bring up a good point. First, if a discrete loss of use fee is in your contract, the fee is reasonable, and damage occurred to the vehicle, I’d argue that is likely enough for the fee. It’s reasonable to think that the company will likely loose money while repairing the vehicle and the parties understood that prior to entering contract. On the other hand, It should be on the car rental vendor to prove their damages. While submitting evidence that you can still book a car may be a step in the right direction, it is not conclusive. I’d push the company to give me some sort of evidence that they actually would have lost a sale. For example, a report from the company that they were at 95% utilization for that vehicle class during those dates at that location. Again, I think it comes down to the particular rental contract, especially if it has a clearly established daily fee for loss of use.

  3. J.C. says:

    Need more info on this topic…..anybody out there ?

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