A couple from Massachusetts will think twice before renting a car again.
A dented door on a trip to Europe cost them over $14,000.
“I do a sport with my dog that’s popular all over the world, but small, it’s called Schutzhund,” explained Tom DeNapoli, of Bourne.
Last October, DeNapoli was in Germany, representing the United States at the World Giant Schnauzer Championships.
He and his wife needed a large vehicle to transport the dog and essentials for their 17-day trip.
“We rented the equivalent of a sprinter van from Hertz Rental in Germany and kind of ignorantly assumed that my US insurance would cover me internationally,” DeNapoli said. “So at the rental counter, like probably most people, I just declined coverage out of some sort of muscle memory and put the car on a Visa debit card and we merged on. “
DeNapoli said that at some point during the trip, someone hit the van while it was parked, denting the passenger-side sliding door. He pointed out the damage when he returned the rental and said Hertz told him they would contact him with an appraisal.
“I finally get a call from…a claims collector for Hertz from New Hampshire who then tells me in a very brief call that they call it a full recovery and the damage is over $15,000” , DeNapoli said.
“I’m thinking $15,000? How is it possible ? It’s a small bump, how can the vehicle be salvaged, it can be fully driven, it’s a superficial bump! »
DeNapoli’s insurance didn’t cover the rental, and the debit card he used didn’t offer any protection either.
The bill lists $13,276 for damage to the vehicle and $2,000 for loss of use and administrative and diminished value costs. The detailed damage report was in German, so he couldn’t read it.
“If the car was undriveable, if it was a real damaged incident, obviously you’re responsible, you’re responsible. I get it,” DeNapoli said. “That’s a dented door for $15,000!” »
DeNapoli reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.
“Isn’t there any sort of consumer-focused protection here?” he asked “Can a rental company charge you what they want to charge you because you waived your rights by denying coverage?”
We contacted Hertz and asked them to look into the situation. They told us that they had provided DeNapoli with a full breakdown of repair costs.
“We have thoroughly investigated this case and the damage was both structural and extensive, as assessed by a reputable third-party partner. As noted in the report, damage was found to the front bumper and damage to the right sliding door.The door structure was also damaged requiring the replacement of the entire rear panel which accounted for the bulk of the cost of the repair.There was some minor pre-existing damage to the left rear which been wrongly included in the report which will be deducted from the total which is €12,259 Our customer service team explained this to Mr. DeNapoli and provided a full repair cost breakdown for transparency.
The bill was reduced by approximately $1,400, leaving DeNapoli liable for just over $14,000 in damages. He continues to dispute the charges with Hertz.
“So, cautionary tale,” he said. “Don’t decline, or make sure the credit card or coverage you have extends beyond the US border.”
Most US auto insurers won’t cover you while driving abroad, and while credit cards generally provide insurance coverage for a rental car, debit cards do not.
But if you’re renting outside the United States, call your credit card company ahead of time, as each card has its own policies, restrictions, and exclusions regarding international rentals.
And if you’re buying coverage through the rental car company, take the time to read and understand the policy.
If you have a consumer issue that you need help with, you can contact us here or call 1-888-521-NEWS. We will answer you!