Exxagerated Damage costs

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Feb 18, 2019
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I had rented a Nissan versa 1.6 SV (2017) that had 42,035 miles on it from Dollar rental at LAX on December 13th, 2018. On December 14th, 2018, I had an incident with that car. I rear-ended a car on a highway close to San Francisco in a slow moving traffic. The other car seemed completely fine from the outside while the car that I was driving seemed to have visible damage. Its bumper came out loose and its side panels had bent on the sides and the headlights had gone back. However, both the cars were drivable and that car's driver and I exchanged information and parted ways in quick time. After that incident, I drove that car without any incident that night for some more time and the entire next day and following night from San Francisco to LAX with detours on the way. On returning the car in LAX, I filed the vehicle incident form and returned to Philadelphia. I was worried because while I had purchased the state required supplemental liability insurance, I had not purchased loss damage waiver. I don't have primary auto insurance nor do I have a credit card. Apparently, I was liable for the damage to that rental car from my own pocket. I contacted Hertz and was told that a claim was being filed and that I would be assigned a claims adjustor to whom I could speak. After a few days, I was assigned a claims adjustor in Oklahoma and I called the person up. He initially told me that I had no supplemental liability insurance on the record either. I told him that as I was a student, was there any way that the costs on me could be waived. As it is, these costs would be insignificant to Hertz mostly and had I bought LDW, these costs would have been borne by Hertz anyways. I wasn't given a direct answer and instead was told that the repair costs were still not available and I would be informed with the documents later. I called up again after a few days and this time, I was informed that my claims adjustor had been changed and that that car had been declared as salvaged. I was shocked. I had driven that car comfortably for around 500 miles after that incident. The claims adjustor said that it could come back to damaged from salvaged and still I wasn't provided the details of the costs. I called up the new claims adjustor who avoided me for several days. The previous claims adjustor suggested that if he were in my shoes, he would go to LAX to settle this. I booked a flight from Philadelphia to LAX and flew on January 7th, 2019 and spoke to the dollar rental at LAX where I had rented that car. I was informed that they were not responsible for anything after that car had left their lot for repairs, etc. I emailed the new claims adjustor again who hadn't replied to my earlier email along with a few other people in Hertz's claims department in Oklahoma. In a minute, I received a phone call from him and he emailed me the details of the repair estimates. the repair costs were estimated at $5836.33 which seemed to be clearly exaggerated. There were no major repairs either such as on engine, etc. I was also told that the car would be auctioned and the fair market value of the car was $10,825. The repair costs were apparently at 53% of its fair market value and that car was declared as salvaged. I felt that the fair market value of the car was exaggerated as well and asked for it in writing but received no response. On asking if I should approach the dollar rental in LAX again as I was there for another day, I was told by the new claims adjustor as well to do it. I approached the dollar rental in LAX again the next day who said that the claims from Hertz should not have directed me to fly to LAX and that the car was moved to the Hertz distribution center nearby in LAX and if it wasn't still sold in auction, would perhaps be in one of the lots there. I went to Hertz distribution center just a few blocks from dollar rental in LAX and was informed that all the information that I was seeking should have been provided by Hertz claims in Oklahoma and I shouldn't have been asked to come to LAX for such information, etc. I flew back to Philadelphia and wrote another email to claims at Hertz and included a few other people in their claims department as well. Their manager tool control and began responding to my emails. For the record, I looked at the repair estimates document and it was signed on December 19th, 2018 and I was sent that document only on January 7th, 2019 In between that period, I was told the information wasn't available or avoided besides being misguided to fly to LAX. The manager did not accept responsibility of their claims people asking me to approach Dollar rental in LAX despite it being evident in email reply from the claims adjustor and also perhaps phone recording. However, he sent me a document that had the fair market value of the car and provided me with the information about what next to expect, etc. He told that the cost that I would be liable for would be the difference between the fair market value and the price at which that car would sell at the auction and he estimated that I would be liable to pay anything between $5000 and $7000. That car sold for a decent price at the auction some 30 days after I had returned the car and I was emailed the subrogation package that added a towing charge of $525 and an admin fee of $150 to make the total cost that I was liable to pay to Hertz at $5996, more than the repair costs. I filed a complaint with BBB and with more research on that car, found that the fair market value that I was being quoted seemed exaggerated. Hertz rental had listed their selling price on cars.com for similar cars at same location in Los Angeles with similar mileage at least $1000 less. Fair market value, being the average of selling and buying price, would be even more than $1000. Based on research for such a car in that location from several sites, I found that the fair market value of that car seemed to have been exaggerated by around $2500. It makes sense then for that car to have been declared as salvaged when repair costs is much more than 50% of its fair market value (not taking into account that the repair costs seemed exaggerated as well making the decision to declare that car as salvaged more acceptable if the fair market value of the car was certainly much lower than what I was being quoted). On looking at the subrogation package, I noticed that the towing charge of $525 was billed for that car to be towed from dollar rental at LAX to a few blocks away to Hertz distribution center (I had been to both the places so know the distance between the two). I was shocked on why would that car be towed for a few blocks distance while it was perfectly capable of being driven (I had driven around 500 miles after the incident). Besides I was provided with poor service from claims at Hertz in Oklahoma during that one month period after the incident where I was avoided, information withheld, and misguided that ended up my having to fly to LAX from Philadelphia unnecessarily and expending money, time, and effort in the process that certainly was more than the admin fees of $150 that I was being billed as well. Hertz replied back to my complaint on BBB stating that while their claims adjustor at Hertz in Oklahoma had made a mistake in initially denying that I had purchased SLI, he had corrected it quickly but none of their claims adjustor were responsible for my flying to LAX from Philadelphia despite email record and perhaps phone record. However, they decided to waive the towing charge and the admin fees and said they would offer a payment plan. I rejected their offer after which they didn't reply at all on BBB or on emails. They sent me one letter by mail on February 1st, 2019 claiming that I was liable to pay $5321 and that too in one instance as opposed to the payment plan that they had planned on offering on BBB site before sending that letter. I replied via email to the subrogation team of Hertz at Oklahoma with all the details asking them to waive the damage costs that I was liable to pay for given my financial situation and that these costs were insignificant to Hertz mostly and Hertz would have borne these costs anyways had I bought the LDW. I mentioned that the fair market value of the car seemed exaggerated by around $2500 besides the cost that I incurred in travelling from Philadelphia to LAX of around $400. Besides, I specified that their waiving the towing charge of $525 wasn't actually waiving because those costs shouldn't have been there in the first place as that car didn't require any towing. And the admin fees waiving was also not really waiving given that I shelled out more the admin fees cost of $150 in flying from Philadelphia to LAX and back for nothing and receiving poor service from their claims department during that one month after the incident. I haven't received any reply from Hertz to my latest sent email with the details and Hertz has declined replying on BBB after their first offer where they waived the not required towing charge of $525 and admin fees of $150 and offering a payment plan. I hope Hertz investigates the clearly exaggerated fair market value of that car that it is quoting me and the overall handling of this case over these past 2 months. The initial declining of my having purchased SLI, the avoidance and withholding of information, and misguidance that ended up in my having to fly to LAX for nothing and thus spending money, and the decision to declare a functional car that didn't really have any major damage as salvaged at just 53% of its fair market value (though both the repair costs and the fair market value of that car seem surely exaggerated) with high chances of my being liable to much higher costs than the repair costs though luckily that car sold for a decent price at the auction to bring the costs down to 5321 on me but still I was billed unrequired additional costs of towing ($525) when no towing was required and admin fees of $150 despite poor service over that first one month is also hopefully investigated. As a side note, I had been in touch with the person whose car I had rear-ended and that person replied back that her car's rear bumper was replaced and her car was returned back to her on January 3rd, 2019, just a couple of weeks or so after the incident and that she was fine though she was fine immediately after the incident as well and we had exchanged information in quick time and parted ways immediately after the incident. I have been asking Hertz to confirm that that person's costs were covered by my having purchased SLI but haven't received response to that though most likely, it has been covered.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
562
722
93
St. Louis
#2
Unfortunately, if you didn't have any insurance that covered the rental vehicle, you will liable to pay out of pocket. Rental companies may include in their rental terms that they have the discretion to sell the vehicle in damaged condition, and you would be required to pay the difference that it sold for and the fair market value. Check your agreement to see what the exact terms state. Here is an article from last year about this:

https://www.elliott.org/problem-solved/insurance-avis-rental-can-still-owe-8000/

Most States require the rental company to provide liability up to the State's maximum, California is an exception, and even then their maximum is only 5K. If you just purchased the minimum, it should cover you up to the 5K, if you had supplemental, you may be covered for more. As the other person may have gone through their insurance, it may take a bit of time before the rental company receives that bill.

If the agreement does allow for them to sell the vehicle, do a bit of research on the fair market value (Kelley Blue Book) of the car would be and then try to negotiate with the company on what you will be required to pay. The following post will give you some information on this subject:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.9703/

Good Luck.
 
Feb 18, 2019
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Thank you for the message and wishes. I have provided Hertz with prices from various sources for similar cars sold at the same location with similar mileage and clearly, Hertz's assessment of the fair market value of that car seems exaggerated. I have mentioned this to them back on January 24th, 2019 on BBB and also in an email recently to which I haven't received any reply from them. All they waived were the not required towing charges of $525 which shouldn't have been there in the first place and hence do not really count as being waived and the admin fees of $150 which are lesser than the cost I incurred in travelling to LAX at their suggestion. I hope they investigate the exaggerated cost of the fair market value of that car and also the fact that I paid unnecessarily for the trip to LAX at their suggestion.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
It is regrettable that there was a car accident but at least there were no serious injuries.

I think you are in a bad situation. You rear ended someone so likely you are at fault, at least partially.

The average Kelly Blue Book value is around $10,500 for a private party transaction for the car model and miles so that does not seem out of line.

The costs to the other driver may still be in the calculation process and you may hear more about that.

The car rental company is not obligated to go to the lowest cost repair shop.

It is a bad tactic to ask for the costs to be waived because Hertz has more money and you are a student. I could not imagine skipping paying my health insurance, getting hospitalized, and going back to the company and saying well you have more money than me so why don’t you just pay it, you would have paid the bill if I had paid you. Life does not work that way.

You have to review the rental agreement. You can try to work out a payment plan but I would expect the company to continue to try to collect and not make this easy. The truth is you damaged the car and it is your responsibility.

You may want to find a local legal clinic for legal advice.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
Here is Kelly Blue Book value for that car make year model and mileage for LAX. $10,519 is the average.
NADA came in a little higher at $10,875.

There is very little to be gained by arguing that ads are indicative of fair market value when you have no idea what condition the car offered for sale is in. The time to have hired a professional appraiser has passed as the car has been sold.

Most banks and other such institutions rely on KBB or NADA.
 

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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,414
1,382
113
Maui Hawaii
#6
You will not make any headway arguing about fair market value or repair costs. Rear end collisions often result in minor damage to the car in front and major damage to the car in the back. These numbers are standard costs derived from sources others have noted, and from the repair service that Hertz uses in LAX. You have no way to determine what the actual damages to the car were, but it appears that significant front end damage occurred, and may well have involved the radiator, fan and other underhood systems (headlight units can cost $200-500 per side alone, and you have described bumper and side panel damage as well). Hertz needs to repair the car to both rent it again and/or to sell it. They will not do limited repairs; that is why the car was declared a salvage car and sold. The auction buyer of the car can then decide what and how to fix it for their own use or future sale, but Hertz is going to preserve their capital investment.

Unfortunately, you chose not to accept the damage insurance when you rented and did not have primary auto insurance or coverage through a credit card. Essentially you drove a car without any insurance on the car itself, with only the liability that applies to the person you ran into. Rear end collisions are virtually ALWAYS the fault of the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle so the liability is your unless there are very unusual circumstances. It appears from your narrative that there was no police involvement or report so you cannot rely on anything to shift the liability.

You will need to wait to see what the total costs are, which may take several weeks or longer, and then work out a payment program. As others have suggested, you should seek advice from legal aid or see if the school you attend has some legal services to assist you.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,051
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New York
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#8
Unfortunately you don’t get to dictate terms to the car rental company. You took a chance not having collision insurance and you unfortunately had an accident.

You say you don’t have a credit card- how did you rent the car without one? Some credit cards have insurance if you used the card to pay for the rental.

I think you might want to consider finding an attorney. If you read your contract- you are fully responsible for the damage to the car if you didn’t have insurance.
 
Feb 18, 2019
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#9
It is regrettable that there was a car accident but at least there were no serious injuries.

I think you are in a bad situation. You rear ended someone so likely you are at fault, at least partially.

The average Kelly Blue Book value is around $10,500 for a private party transaction for the car model and miles so that does not seem out of line.

The costs to the other driver may still be in the calculation process and you may hear more about that.

The car rental company is not obligated to go to the lowest cost repair shop.

It is a bad tactic to ask for the costs to be waived because Hertz has more money and you are a student. I could not imagine skipping paying my health insurance, getting hospitalized, and going back to the company and saying well you have more money than me so why don’t you just pay it, you would have paid the bill if I had paid you. Life does not work that way.

You have to review the rental agreement. You can try to work out a payment plan but I would expect the company to continue to try to collect and not make this easy. The truth is you damaged the car and it is your responsibility.

You may want to find a local legal clinic for legal advice.
The Kelley Blue book value that you quote is the selling price which is greater than the fair market value. Besides, the condition of that rental car was not that great with its driver's side door loose and perhaps what else not in good condition. If you look at Kelly Blue Book Value for trade-in, it is far less. The average of the two gives an idea on the fair market value roughly. My SLI had insurance coverage up to $1 million at the least so I am not worried about that cost as I am sure a rear bumper replacement wouldn't cost more than a million dollars for that car which I had rear ended.
 
Feb 18, 2019
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#10
Here is Kelly Blue Book value for that car make year model and mileage for LAX. $10,519 is the average.
NADA came in a little higher at $10,875.

There is very little to be gained by arguing that ads are indicative of fair market value when you have no idea what condition the car offered for sale is in. The time to have hired a professional appraiser has passed as the car has been sold.

Most banks and other such institutions rely on KBB or NADA.
Again, you have provided selling prices from NADA and KBB and that too under assumption that that car was in great condition whereas that wasn't the case and it was a rental car. Are you affiliated with Hertz?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,051
15,556
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
The Kelley Blue book value that you quote is the selling price which is greater than the fair market value. Besides, the condition of that rental car was not that great with its driver's side door loose and perhaps what else not in good condition. If you look at Kelly Blue Book Value for trade-in, it is far less. The average of the two gives an idea on the fair market value roughly. My SLI had insurance coverage up to $1 million at the least so I am not worried about that cost as I am sure a rear bumper replacement wouldn't cost more than a million dollars for that car which I had rear ended.
You should contact an attorney at this point. We can’t help you argue a case about fair market value for a car you had an accident in. If you believe this to be the case- you need an attorney to prove it.
 
Feb 18, 2019
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#12
You will not make any headway arguing about fair market value or repair costs. Rear end collisions often result in minor damage to the car in front and major damage to the car in the back. These numbers are standard costs derived from sources others have noted, and from the repair service that Hertz uses in LAX. You have no way to determine what the actual damages to the car were, but it appears that significant front end damage occurred, and may well have involved the radiator, fan and other underhood systems (headlight units can cost $200-500 per side alone, and you have described bumper and side panel damage as well). Hertz needs to repair the car to both rent it again and/or to sell it. They will not do limited repairs; that is why the car was declared a salvage car and sold. The auction buyer of the car can then decide what and how to fix it for their own use or future sale, but Hertz is going to preserve their capital investment.

Unfortunately, you chose not to accept the damage insurance when you rented and did not have primary auto insurance or coverage through a credit card. Essentially you drove a car without any insurance on the car itself, with only the liability that applies to the person you ran into. Rear end collisions are virtually ALWAYS the fault of the driver who rear-ended the other vehicle so the liability is your unless there are very unusual circumstances. It appears from your narrative that there was no police involvement or report so you cannot rely on anything to shift the liability.

You will need to wait to see what the total costs are, which may take several weeks or longer, and then work out a payment program. As others have suggested, you should seek advice from legal aid or see if the school you attend has some legal services to assist you.
Based on the repair costs, you assumed that significant front end damage occurred. That is my point. The repairs were all minor. There was no damage to the radiator or to the fan or anything of that sort. Even the itemized detailed repair cost estimates had no such major repair listed. It was primarily the labor cost that was more than $3000. As said, I drove that car for more than 500 miles without any problem after the incident and when I showed the photos of the damage that I had taken to a mechanic in Philadelphia on returning back, I was said the damage could cost me between $3500-$4000 of course with the disclaimer that there could be potentially hidden damages which was not the case. The total costs are as of now $5321 after Hertz waived the admin fees of $150 (lesser than the ticket price and cost I incurred to fly to LAX at Hertz's claims adjustor's suggestion) and the towing fee of $525 (which shouldn't have been there in the first place as that car didn't need towing to my knowledge as I had driven more than 500 miles or so after the incident over the next 2 days and returned that car in LAX). I highly doubt I will be charged any more costs such as for the other car's repairs as I had sufficient coverage on my SLI of up to a $1 million at the least and a rear bumper replacement for such a car wouldn't cost as much.
 
Feb 18, 2019
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#13
Unfortunately you don’t get to dictate terms to the car rental company. You took a chance not having collision insurance and you unfortunately had an accident.

You say you don’t have a credit card- how did you rent the car without one? Some credit cards have insurance if you used the card to pay for the rental.

I think you might want to consider finding an attorney. If you read your contract- you are fully responsible for the damage to the car if you didn’t have insurance.
I had a return flight ticket from Philadelphia to LAX and I had booked with a debit card.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#15
I was rear ended about 6 years ago and the cost to repair my vehicle was almost $6,000. So, I am not sure how exaggerated the costs are for repair.
You may have also damaged the vehicle more by driving it after the accident. You do not know what happened to the wheel alignment, etc. I know it may have felt fine to drive, but in the future, if you are ever in an accident in a rental vehicle or any vehicle that is not yours, report immediately, get a new undamaged car and deal with the damages later. Do not ever continue driving the vehicle, as you may not be aware of all the damage, even if it seems OK. Now, driving the vehicle for another 20-30 miles to get it to a mechanic may be OK, but not the 500 or so you drove.
Also, you do not get credit for going to LA to handle this matter. This is called life and it was a decision you made to do this. Why should Hertz have to take a hit based on a decision you made?
I would agree with the comment that you may want to go to a local legal aid clinic and see if they can help you sort this out. I do not know if the damages are overstated, etc., but Hertz does have to have documentation of the estimated repair costs, etc., as these would be necessary to prove up the amount they are seeking from you. Some law schools and legal aid are free to low income individuals. Some have a sliding scale on payment, so research your local options.
The Fair Market Value is the selling price, NOT the trade in. Trade ins typically receive far less value than sales. I am not sure where you are getting the notion that the FMV is anything other than the selling price. I would agree that the "fair" value would fall somewhere between good and excellent, but probably not the top excellent amount, however, what is the difference between those two, the fair value will typically fall somewhere in between.
I do not believe anyone on here works for Hertz, we are all volunteers, trying to guide you to the right place and also to temper your expectations on what you will be facing.

As weihlac said earlier, check out this thread https://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.9703/#post-101817
and begin following it. I do not think you will get out of paying everything, but you may be able to lower the amount that you owe. Also, as others have stated, there may be additional amounts after the other driver gets their vehicle looked at/fixed.

Now, if you are an auto mechanic with specific expertise, that may change what I have just said. Follow the thread, get the documentation that you need.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,051
15,556
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#16
You need an attorney. We can’t assist you any further with this since they will come after you for the damages. It IS worth it if you didn’t opt for insurance- you are legally responsible for the damages.

We don’t deal with legal issues here so we’ll have to close this since there isn’t anything else we can offer you except recommending a lawyer.

If you have anything to report back after contacting an attorney let us know and we can re-open this for an update.
 
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