Your Rental Car's Stolen. Who Pays?

What happens when you can't find the car - because its been stolen? And to make it worse the car isn't yours--- it's a rental! How do you deal with a stolen rental car? Does your insurance cover it? Should you have spent the extra money on the company's insurance? This is not a hypothetical scenario. It happened to North Carolina man on a business trip in Atlanta. And he called our Call for Action volunteers to see if they could help.

"I called down about my car. 'Can you please bring my car? He was like we can't seem to find it right now.'" 15 minutes later, the hotel valet told Scott Hoar this story about his rental car. "We can't seem to locate the keys"

Another 15 minutes went by and the valet manager told Scott, "We think possibly one of the valet people took the car home or took the keys home or possibly we gave it to the wrong guest but it'll back about 3 pm."

What? If they didn't know who had the car or the keys, how could the valet company know when the rental car would be back? Scott says, "I was appalled. I was scared. I was like. 'Okay, where's my car at? This does not happen to people.'"

Scott's rental car company told him to call the police' and report the car stolen. Wait until you hear what the police told Scott. "You gave up your rights to the car when you gave it to the valet. I was like 'What?' 'We can do a report as it missing but that's about it.'"

The situation gets worse. The valet company told Scott it had 30 days to investigate. So Scott's rental car company charged him $35 a day plus taxes and a late fee for the car. Seven days and $381 dollars later, the valet company found the car.

Scott says the valet company told him "The car's been driving around Atlanta back-and-forth to the hotel as a block of cars for the Fast and Furious franchise - which is ironic since the movie's about stolen cars."

Scott is still on the hook for $381.The valet company told Scott they'll cover the cost but they haven't yet. We'll stay on top of them to make sure they pay it for him.

And you might be thinking of course the valet company's at fault - so they should pay. Not necessarily. Usually if someone really steals a vehicle off their lot... the valet company is not responsible.

Another note to add - even if Scott bought the car rental insurance - it wouldn't have covered him. It's splitting hairs, but technically Scott wasn't driving the car - the valet was. The insurance only covers the driver.

Your regular auto insurance may have some safeguards. It should pay to replace the car if have comprehensive coverage on your own car. If you use a credit card to pay for the rental car, that could also give you protection. These are all answers you should have before you go to rent your car.


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