The Psychology of Car Rental Waivers & How to Beat Them

‘Spider Web Cracking’ on Rental Car Windshield

We are more inclined to buy things from people we like. Hence, car rental booking counters are oases of charm. Are you sure that car will be large and fast enough, they ask. Oh, and I ticked the insurance waiver box so you know all damage is covered.

We drive away relaxed and chatting happily, before a passing truck throws up a stone and whacks the windshield glass just down the road But no worries we believe. Those nice people have us insured. Little do we know their dark secrets … We share a few of these here.

We decide to enjoy a barbecue on the beach. There is a glorious sunset coming and we want to watch the golden globe slip into the sea. Unfortunately, we packed the hamper so full with delicious goodies it is too heavy to carry. So we drive the rental very carefully across a few yards of sand. This is powder dry, what harm can this possibly do?

The next morning we head out to explore the highways of the sunny south of our glorious country. Along the way, a sign points to a memory of the Civil War. We follow the short dirt track carefully. One of us walks ahead to check for rocks and other snags. We are exercising utmost care, even though the waiver covers us as if it is our own car.

We have a lovely journey for the rest of the week. The car performs superbly, although the cracks on the windshield are spreading where the stone from the truck hit. Better report it, we decide so we call the rental company desk. The fact the conversation is recorded does not worry us. It will prove we reported the incident.

Hello, we say. We just wanted to mention a truck threw up a stone and cracked the windscreen three days ago. No worries, the clerk says. We will sort this out after you return the car. When we do, a posse of technicians surrounds us. One examines the under body and wheel arches with a mirror on a pole. Another scrutinizes the bodywork. The third starts measuring the crack on the screen.

The supervisor stands up. I see you have been driving on a beach from this sand and seaweed on the wishbones. This also looks like dust from an unsurfaced road around the tail lamps. Unfortunately, your insurance waiver fell away when you left the main road, and you owe us a new windshield.

But the stone cracked the windshield on the tar road right outside the depot, we splutter. It could have also happened on the dirt road you drove, the supervisor replies. Besides, you failed to report the damage within 24 hours. I am sorry to say but you have to pay. Our hearts are in our throats as we remember the Pteet website we visited.

If only we had accepted their offer of primary rental car insurance for just $9 a day. We would have had cover up to $40,000, and no deductible first amount to pay. Next time we will do the right thing with Pteet.

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Spider Web Cracking: Derek Jensen BY Public Domain