(WSVN) - She rented a truck to pick up donations for her church. She bought the insurance in case of an accident, and when she hit a tree branch, she was told the insurance only covered the bottom half of the truck. That’s when she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If you are looking for Denise McMahon and can’t track her down, try heading over to Mercy Baptist Church.

Denise McMahon, insured half a truck?: “I was raised in a church family, and we always try to do the right thing, do as to others as you would like them to do unto you.”

Denise says it, and lives it by doing for others.

Denise McMahon: “We were doing a fundraiser, because we wanted to do something for the veterans, the homeless, the children at Christmastime.”

And then Denise had an idea to get even more donations for the fundraiser.

Denise McMahon: “I thought it was a brilliant idea.”

Denise decided to rent a truck to make it easier for her fellow parishioners.

Denise McMahon: “So that people wouldn’t have to try bring their stuff in, I just decided to rent a U-Haul truck to go around and pick up the items that they were going to donate.”

First up, rent the truck.

Denise McMahon: “You make a reservation, you go in. The clerk says, ‘Do you want insurance?’ I say, ‘Yes, I do.'”

Denise then picked up the donations, took them to the church and headed back to return the truck.

Denise McMahon: “I must have turned too sharply, and the truck, the top of the truck, actually, hit a tree limb.”

This is the damage, but Denise wasn’t too worried, because she had bought insurance.

Denise McMahon: “The lady said, ‘Do you have insurance?’ I said, ‘Yes, I have insurance.’ The insurance [employee] said, ‘Well, the insurance that you have only covers the bottom half of the truck and not the top half,’ and I looked at her like, ‘Are you serious? Insurance is insurance.'”

Nope. Denise was told the insurance she bought would not cover a collision with an overhead object, and she owed them $1,800.

Denise McMahon: “It’s ridiculous, right? Insurance is insurance. How do you cover a bottom half and not the top half?”

Needless to say, Denise is not happy that the insurance she paid for only covered part of the truck.

Denise McMahon: “I don’t know how they divide the truck into top and bottom. I don’t know, they have an invisible line somewhere, I guess.”

Well, Howard, Denise says she wasn’t told she was only insuring part of the truck. Is she out of luck?

Howard Finkelstein: “Probably. A rental company is not required to offer you insurance, and they are not required to tell you what the insurance you purchase does and does not cover, because it is written in that contract. That contract most of us do not read. One thing to check: some credit cards will cover the damage and check your own insurance policy. Many will cover car rentals, and a few will cover trucks.”

We spoke with U-Haul. They told us the explanation of the insurance coverage is in the contract, and they have displays at the U-Haul centers.

Denise’s credit card didn’t cover the damage, and she didn’t want to file with her own insurance because she would have to pay the deductible, plus, she feared, filing a claim for the truck would raise her rates.

Denise McMahon: “I’m sure thousands of people are buying insurance thinking they are covered, only to find out, no, you’re not covered.”

Denise learned an expensive lesson, and as far as renting another truck to collect donations for her church, she says, of course she will.

Denise McMahon: “I will continue to do good things, good deeds, and I guess we have to take the good with the bad, the ugly.”

Thanks for the wonderful things you do, Denise. And Howard wasn’t joking when he said most people don’t read the rental contract in full. I know I haven’t a few times. Now I will, and if you dont want to hold up the line, step to the side. Also, if you aren’t sure about what’s covered, ask questions.

Trucking along with a problem you want to unload? Need someone to haul it away? Let us drive in and insure you get treated well from top to bottom.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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