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Let's say you have damage to a rental car for which you are liable. Other scratches clearly show that earlier damage was never fixed. How do you calculate the reasonable damage the rental agency can charge you?

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4  
I would expect this to be covered in your rental agreement. –  Flimzy Aug 6 '13 at 15:43
    
Was the existing damage marked on the car report / documentation when you hired it? –  Gagravarr Aug 6 '13 at 15:50
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Most rental companies will/should note previous damage to the car when you sign the rental agreement. If you disagree, that's your opportunity to say so. If you drove away without that, I think the assumption will be that there wasn't any damage to the car when you rented it. –  Andrew Ferrier Aug 6 '13 at 20:20
    
I don't see how there's a connection between the earlier damage and what you caused. If there is, perhaps you should edit to clarify. –  Nate Eldredge Aug 6 '13 at 22:11
    
@NateEldredge for example if you damage the front bumper on the left side, but there was other damage on the right side –  Dirty-flow Aug 7 '13 at 10:20
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1 Answer 1

I've had plenty experience in dealing with damages to rental vehicles - from completely 'totaling' a vehicle, to dents on the body...all over the world. As stated in the comments, your best bet is to do a thorough walk-through of the vehicle before taking possession.

If you have a credit card issued by a US bank, most offer rental car collision coverage, with no deductible. It is a bit of a hassle sorting through the paperwork with the rental and credit card company, but once done, you will be fully reimbursed for any damage charged by the rental company.

For calculating damages, you will have signed 1 of 2 clauses in the rental agreement:

  1. Purchase a daily insurance cover from the rental company at a (ludicrous) price.
  2. Waive the insurance. The rental company will block a large sum off your credit card as a deductible.

In case of the latter, given your scenario, the rental company may charge the entire amount of the deductible on your card for any (perceived) damage while the car was in your possession. It is then your prerogative to follow up and get the right amount adjusted. For a few scratches/bodywork, the estimate should likely be less than the deductible.

The bottom line is - it is a painful situation! The rental company will not give you the vehicle to make the repairs yourself. You do not have much recourse unless you have categorically identified the damage before renting the car. Your best option is repeated follow-ups with the rental company ensuring the right repair amount gets adjusted OR they are convinced about the pre-existing damage and waive your liability completely

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There's another option too. From all the rentals I have ever rented none will rent without you having a comprehensive insurance coverage, which is transfer-rable. –  happybuddha Aug 7 '13 at 19:48
    
That's correct. Unless you go with option 1, which is buy insurance from the rental company. –  rs79 Aug 8 '13 at 14:11
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