The Finances and Legalities of Car Rental Claims

» Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Rental Cars, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

For some reason our agency has had more than its fair share of car accidents while on official orders.  And rarely, all too rarely, are the resulting claims straightforward and clear cut.  When there is a problem on a car rental claim, it is because there is some unusual circumstance surrounding the accident.  Many times what appears to be a reasonable claim under the government car rental agreement is actually a financial claim against the government.  The trick, as I have learned straddling my areas of authority and/or expertise in procurement, finance and travel, is to know when a car rental problem is actually a financial or legal problem.

Here’s what I have learned over the last few years.  If you are fortunate the traveler used an approved car rental agency, rented the car as a government employee, had approved orders on hand, and was clearly working within the scope of his/her authority as an agent of the government.  Oh, and there was actual damage to his car allowing him to pursue a claim.  The traveler goes to the car rental company and files a claim and, assuming the agents are well trained, that will be the end of it.  Now remember this is the easy case.

As an example of a complicated case,  there’s the situation that there was no damage to the rental car as a result of the accident but the mishap caused damage to another person’s car overseas.  This one was interesting, it was not covered by the Car Rental Agreement (because there was no damage to the rental car) but under government claims.  If it had occurred in the U.S., it would’ve been paid for, after the Office of General Counsel (OGC) attorney reviewed the documentation, as a claim against the government where it would become a strictly financial transaction.  In the latest case the incident described above happened overseas and the US Government will not recognize an international claim.  So in this case, the traveler will again provide all documentation to the OGC who will notify the overseas’ victim (and supposedly their insurance company) of the law at work here and the claim will not be paid. The traveler will also not have to pay anything regarding this accident because they were acting properly as an agent of the Government.

In conclusion, some of the most difficult car accident cases are those that are actually not being covered by the Government Car Rental Agreement, but rather fall within legal and/or financial regulations as claims against the Government.  When my boss tosses me those problems, I have learned to look at them as potential claims and get the OGC involved as soon as possible.

by Julie Speers

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