Colorado Rental cars – legal rights of renter

Posted by: Mar 08, 2014By Brian Stutheit

Beware the fine print.  The standard form rental agreement used by Avis, and probably other rental car companies, allows Avis to choose whether to repair its vehicle, or total the vehicle and demand full replacement value from the renter.

In a case Stutheit & Gartland just finished, our client driving an Avis vehicle hit a boulder on the highway in the middle of the night.  Avis got a repair estimate in the amount of $9,423.  It ignored the repair estimate, and demanded that our client pay more than $28,000 to replace the vehicle.  Outrageous, but that is what the contract allowed Avis to do.

How can you protect yourself?  Buy the loss damage waiver when you rent.  A typical loss damage waiver eliminates the renter’s financial responsibility in the event the car is damaged.  Never authorize the rental car company to charge your credit card for damages or future unexpected harm.  Make sure you promptly fill out all information about your accident that the rental company requires.  In our case, Avis claimed that a delay in returning the paperwork gave it the right to do anything it wanted, even though our client immediately told Avis she had an accident, and Avis even provided a replacement rental.

This abuse of consumers is so rampant that the Colorado legislature is considering a law which would limit damages a rental company may claim to the lesser of actual cost of repair, or actual value of the vehicle immediately before the damage, less any proceeds the rental car company receives for the vehicle.  The proposed legislation is House Bill 14-1187.   People who rent cars would be well advised to call their own legislator and support passage of the bill.