(WSVN) - Have you ever rented a car? Did you buy their insurance or use your credit card, assuming they would cover any damage? Now what if it wasn’t your fault? Say, a hail storm. Do you have to pay for that? It’s why one South Florida man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
John Khouri is a travel agent, meaning he gets to travel — a lot.
John Khouri, caught in hailstorm: “I’ve been to South Africa, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, France.”
Recently, he was in Colorado, rented a car and started driving around.
John Khouri: “I decided to do a little sightseeing. I went to the Garden of the Gods.”
Ironic he was at the Garden of the Gods, because he then got hit by an act of God.
John Khouri: “I realized that hail started to fall, so I said, ‘You know, I better get back to the car.'”
As John sat in the rental car, he saw it wasn’t a little hail falling. It was a storm pounding down hail the size of a quarter.
John Khouri: “A bit unnerving, to be honest with you, and when it’s pounding on your car and stuff, you don’t know if it’s going to break the windshield or you’re going to get hurt.”
The storm lasted 20 minutes. John then got out of the rental car.
John Khouri: “Ended up looking like a golf ball with all those little dimples.”
A car with dimples is not cute, and John would find out that hail damage was expensive to repair.
John Khouri: “Pretty close to $5,000 damage.”
John had rented the car using his credit card and declined the insurance coverages from the rental agency because he thought his credit card would cover any damages.
But the rental car agency sent a letter saying John owed them the nearly $5,000 for the car repairs.
John Khouri: “They’re saying, ‘Well, you know, you chose not to take our insurance, and this damage happened when the car was in your possession, so you’re fully responsible for it.'”
John’s argument? It wasn’t his fault.
John Khouri: “I think it’s ridiculous because again, it is an act of God, as I call it. It wasn’t something that I did intentionally.”
John could turn it over to his own car insurance, but then his rates would go up, leaving this world traveler with a simple question.
John Khouri: “Do they have the right to hold me responsible for an act of God?”
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Believe it or not, yes, they can. It may not feel right, but these contracts are written by the attorneys for the rental company, and whenever they can put the responsibility on you, the customer, they do.”
That’s the bad news.
As we did our research, we found most credit card companies provide secondary coverage, meaning they only pay the deductible, and your car insurance has to pay the rest of the cost.
Some provide what’s called primary coverage when you rent a car, meaning in an accident, they pay for all the damage to the vehicle.
Fortunately for John, his credit card company provides primary coverage and will pay the entire $4,964 repair bill.
Howard Finkelstein: “This is a great time to check your credit card. Call the number on your card and specifically ask them, do you have primary or secondary coverage? Or no coverage at all. That way, if you rent a car, you know what to expect if there is damage.”
John Khouri: “You guys got the job done, and I appreciate it very, very much.”
John’s credit card coverage saved him a lot of headaches, but the next time he is going to avoid all that.
John Khouri: “Even though some people may use their credit card, I suggest they get their car insurance from the rental company, because you never can tell what can happen.”
Glad we could help John, and I learned something. I always decline the rental insurance because I thought my credit card would cover an accident. I did what Howard said. I checked. Nope. They only cover the deductible. Another reason I like doing Help Me Howard: I learn something new every day.
Got a problem you want to put on ice? Need to insure it’s resolved? Contact us. It’s no accident we have been around for 20 years, because we have you covered.
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