Need advice for $2084.00 bill from Budget/Sedgwick

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Aug 21, 2016
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#1
Rented a car from Budget in Florida in late May 2016. This car was hit by a driver while it was unoccupied and legally parked on the street in a properly marked parking spot.

The driver was cited in the accident and a police report was taken listing this driver at fault. His insurance company was GEICO and all information was taken down regarding the at-fault driver. Budget was initially very helpful and becuase my car was rendered undrivable (bent frame) they actually delivered me a new car and towed the damaged one away.

There were a few mistakes by Budget when they took the initial report over the phone (listing me as at-fault was the big one) but in the subsequent weeks this was sorted out and Budget assured me this was the end of the matter as it was now going to be resolved between them and GEICO (at-fault driver's insurance company). This initial mistake of listing me at-fault caused Budget to first file a claim with MY insurance company (Travelers) but was finally corrected and filed with Geico.

Fast forward to now (mid-August 2016) and I get a bill from Sedgwick on behalf of Budget totaling $2,084.13.

Their breakdown of this $2,084.13 is as follows:

Vehicle Damage: $17,549.00
Salvage: -$9,565.00 (they sold the damaged car for this amount)
Loss of Use: $924.00
Admin Fee: $200.00
Tow: $617.46
GEICO payment: -9725.46

They then state that I owe the comprehensive/collision deductible and fees (listed above -- Loss of use, towing, admin fee) totaling $2084.13.

Budget never offered me an opportunity to use my own towing. This "loss of use" of almost one-thousand dollars seems opportunistic at best. The admin fee of $200 is pure profit.

I have not spoken to Budget or Sedgwick regarding this matter yet as this Monday will be my first chance.

I was looking to get my ducks in a row before I do. My brother is an attorney in Florida and I have spoken to him but he's not really in this game in his daily profession so I would love to hear from you experts.

This was a 3 day rental and the total original charges were $168.00 including all fees ($44.00 daily rate plus taxes/fees). I declined all Budget offered supplemental insurance and reserved and paid for this car with my VISA card. VISA has not been contacted regarding this matter yet either.

Thank you very much for your time.

Darren
 
Last edited:
Nov 3, 2015
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#2
Do not talk to them on the phone. (Yes, I'm shouting; sorry!)

Instead, keep all dealings with them in writing (so you've got a paper trail if it actually goes as far as court), and proceed as outlined here: http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/ Turn this mess over to Visa at the same time, same paper-trail rules. I would also alert my insurance company that this is resurfacing again... it won't be any surprise to them, since they already knew about it because of the botched claim filing against your insurance.

IMHO (and I am not a lawyer or insurance person) they've already had their bite out of the at-fault driver's apple, and I'll bet the insurance company there refused to pay these charges, and I would fight them, too.

Joe Farrell is a lawyer who comments here pretty often: you might want to read this old thread: http://forum.elliott.org/threads/purco-budget-loss-of-use-need-help-please.3260/#post-35486
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#3
Take a look on the other car rental threads. We have had posters in your situation before and Joe Farrel, our resident attorney, typically will craft a letter for them to send.

In general I believe the typical response is "you should have made this claim with Geico. If you have already settled with Geico, and were unable to recoup these costs, that is your issue to handle with Geico."

Again, look on the other forums to find info.

You should start a letter writing campaign as we outline here:
http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/

I honestly think a letter to an executive might be a good idea. Just explaining the situation and asking for them to cancel the bill.

I would call visa and speak with them to find out what the process is there. If they'll cover it then that is good info to know, and something you might want to take advantage of to make things easy. My understanding is that most visa car rental policies only cover your deductible, and that is after you've filed with your insurer. Call and ask to get clarification.

Keep us posted
 
Likes: jsn55

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
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Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
I agree with the other posters' advice above. Definitely let your insurance company know they are trying to hold you liable for the additional fees and get in touch with Visa and let them know what is going on. Do everything in writing.

Contact the 1st person listed for Budget as well as @sas80 suggested. Once Budget is aware of what is going on, it should be all sorted out. Good luck!
 
Aug 21, 2016
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#6
Thanks everyone for your replies. I have read each one and researched the referenced threads. One question I have is that most of the threads speak of damage to cars that were [relatively] minor in nature and to request previous renter's logs and vehicle damage estimates among other things in order to dispute either who is responsible for the damages (possibly previous renters in the case of pre-existing damage) or the actual extent of the damages (overcharging for repairs).

Where my situation differs a bit from these threads is the parked car was totaled. I do not dispute that. The actual difference between the written-off car value and the at-fault driver's insurance payment and subsequent salvage sale proceeds is only around $350.00--which they are claiming is my deductible. While this $350.00 deductible is certainly not insignificant (do I even owe a deductible in this situation?) the vast majority of what Budget/Sedgwick is billing me for are add-ons unrelated to the actual damage to the car (loss of use for $900.00, towing for $600.00, admin fee for $200.00 for an add-on grand total of approximately $1,700.00) and while I will dispute 100% of ALL charges ($2,084.00) the most disconcerting and vast majority of the bill are unrelated to the actual write-off of the vehicle and are merely opportunistic (borderline scam) add-on charges that budget claims I contractually agreed to when I hired their vehicle.

I have spoken informally to three different attorneys (my brother and two friends) about this matter and while this is a large sum of money I am actually more upset about this on principle. All three attorney's were quite taken aback that Budget would operate in this manner. My brother was with me on this trip when the incident occurred and he made sure the police report and my report to Budget were accurate and left no room for interpretation on who was responsible for the incident.

I'll report back any news from Budget and Sedgwick tomorrow.

Thanks again for all your responses! I sincerely appreciate all of them.

Best regards,

Darren
 
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Nov 3, 2015
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#7
Even though the cars in other threads were mere scratches in comparison, they still have the similar issue of garbage fees being claimed as due, (and the company backing off when the scammees started acting like they intend to see everything done properly and legally and without the scam). GEICO certainly only thought that they were liable for the amount they paid, and I'll bet you a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies that the gecko got a full release from Budget when they handed 'em the check.

Yes, please update us. I have the feeling that you're like me and want to pay your lawful debts, but see no reason to roll over while they pick your pocket.

Honestly, this is starting to feel like the advice we should give to every prospective renter is the advice given to poker players: "If you can't spot the mark the minute you sit down at the table, get up again, because you're the mark."
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#8
The point is that when an insurance company makes a payment there are usually terms that say the payment satisfies all claims in full. That statement should cover you against and further money from you.

In many responses Joe Farrell, who is an attorney who dedicates his time freely here , has written letters that you can use to send to the company advising them you aren't paying them for loss of use. You can find one of his letters and use it to fight the car rental company. We don't want to see you have to pay for something you shouldn't.
 
Likes: jsn55
R

Realitoes

Guest
#9
Very few if any personal insurance is going to cover these charges. Since Geico was paying the claim on behalf of their driver (not the renter), any terms they negotiated with Budget, will probably only benefit their client.

Legally you probably owe those fees in accordance with the rental contract you signed. You can check to see if your insurance will provide any coverage (again probably not likely) or check to see if the credit card you used to pay for the rental provides any benefits that will cover this.
 
Aug 21, 2016
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#10
I have communicated both with Budget and Sedgwick via email regarding this issue and am awaiting a response.

I tried to report this matter to VISA today and learned a valuable lesson. While Visa will pay for reasonable loss of use, towing, and admin fees I failed to report the incident to them within the required 45 days.

The accident occurred on May 27, 2016 and I was told by Budget that the at-fualt driver's insurance company, GEICO, had admitted full liability and that I would be under no further obligation for the damages. Of course, this was verbally stated only and while GEICO did pay for the vast majority of the damages they of course balked at the ridiculous loss of use, towing, and admin fees totaling $1,700.00.

I have rented literally 100's of cars in the last 10 years and never had so much of ding attributed to me. Almost like Budget deliberately waits at least 60 days to whack you with the big bill they know you aren't expecting. Live and learn.

Darren
 

kenish

Verified Member
Sep 1, 2015
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#11
As @OResident said, GEICO should have received a "release of claim" from Budget, meaning that Budget aggrees there are no further claims as a condition of getting paid. @Joe Farrell can further clarify this. Even though you aren't GEICO's customer, they should be at least semi-helpful in this. I think what's happening is Sedgwick buys "residual" claims from Budget and uses techniques on the legal "skinny branches" to try and milk more $$. No different than collection agencies.
 
Aug 21, 2016
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#12
As @OResident said, GEICO should have received a "release of claim" from Budget, meaning that Budget aggrees there are no further claims as a condition of getting paid. @Joe Farrell can further clarify this. Even though you aren't GEICO's customer, they should be at least semi-helpful in this. I think what's happening is Sedgwick buys "residual" claims from Budget and uses techniques on the legal "skinny branches" to try and milk more $$. No different than collection agencies.
I think you are 100% correct in the thought that Sedgwick is merely collecting a percentage of the overall claim. I also spoke to GEICO who did say there was a release to GEICO from Budget absolving GEICO any further liability with regard to the incident. However, I am not sure contractually (I have not been provided with a copy of the signed rental agreement yet) if I am liable for any perceived (whether real or fraudulent) shortfall that Budget feels the GEICO payment left them with. GEICO also does not pay loss of use or admin fees. Interestingly enough they will pay towing but Budget never provided them with the $650 towing invoice.

One thing is certain though... this is a nasty (and obviously extremely profitable) side of the rental car biz. I bet they LOVE it when their cars get dinged up... cars make more money for them in the shop than they do on the road.
 
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Neil Maley

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#13
But don't take it lying down. Many times they will back off if you challenge them. Advise them that they accepted Geicos full payment and you feel that this absolves you of any further money owed. If they junked the car, why are they charging you loss of use? Where did that figure come from and how did they arrive at you owing it?

Ask Geico if they paid the towing portion too.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#15
ADVOCATE ADVICE
If you have even the slightest issue with a rental car that involves insurance, report the incident to your own insurance company immediately. You may have coverage through your autos at home, through a credit card, or purchased at the time of rental.

You are 'paying' for this coverage one way or the other. Always report promptly. Don't make judgements about what should happen or not happen, who is at fault or not, just report it to the people who are experts in auto damages.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#17
Why would there be a loss of use fee if the car was totalled? When a car is totalled then it is replaced. Loss of use makes sense only if the car is out of rotation bc if is being repaired, I think.
This is really dependent on the various state laws, but in cases of a totaled vehicle, it may be possible to claim either loss of use or loss of earning capacity for part or all of the period until the claim is paid. This can be true for personal vehicles also (Texas, for example).

I normally go through USAA portal when renting a vehicle, as they have an agreement with several rental companies not to charge loss of use fees for members, among several other benefits.
 
Sep 6, 2015
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#18
First of all, I'm sorry you're having to deal with. It stinks, especially when the only thing you did was park the car. As for reporting it to your own insurance company and or credit card company if they provide insurance on rental cars, always file an initial report. You can easily call back and stop the process (as I have done more than once when I found out the repair bill wouldn't be worth charging to my insurance once the deductible was applied and risk the potential rate increase), but it protects you from missing reporting deadlines. I know others who have pushed back on the loss of use issue. If they have other cars available for customers regardless of the condition of the car you rented, there isn't really a loss of use on their part because they probably wouldn't have rented it anyway. It's a different story if they were out of cars completely and they were counting on yours to give to a customer and had to send them to another agency. You said your brother is a lawyer. I'm willing to bet a letter from him (after obtaining a copy of the agreement between Geico and the agency) will be enough to make this go away. As your brother will tell you, get it in writing so they don't try to sell it to a collections agency in the future.
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#19
Why would there be a loss of use fee if the car was totalled? When a car is totalled then it is replaced. Loss of use makes sense only if the car is out of rotation bc if is being repaired, I think.
Are you seriously trying to apply logic and intelligence to car rental companies? ;) Gotta admit that 'loss of use' charge on a totalled car is pretty creative on the part of Budget. Ugh.