Lawsuit accuses Dollar Thrifty of charging customers for extra insurance coverage

INDIANAPOLIS - When you rent a car, do you pay for the extra insurance coverage? Some say they weren't given a choice and were overcharged.

Customers filed a lawsuit against Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, claiming the rental company charged customers hundreds of dollars for extra coverage they did not want.

Steve Roberts, who travels frequently for work, flew to Tampa in March. He rented a car from Thrifty, which along with Dollar is now owned by Hertz.

"When I first talked to them, I said I don't want the damage waiver because I am covered by my insurance and by my credit card," he said.

Roberts said he asked the Thrifty employee to make sure he wouldn't be charged for the loss damage waiver or extra insurance coverage.

"Finished the paperwork, got the paperwork back. I said, 'OK, this does not include damage waiver, correct?' She said, 'No, it does not,'" Roberts said.

After his trip, Roberts noticed a $135 charge for loss damage waiver and called Thrifty twice to dispute the charge, but he said he got nowhere.

"Received no real satisfaction from the customer service representative because he said, 'Too bad, it's already on the bill,'" Roberts said.

A lawsuit filed against Dollar Thrift Automotive Group in November 2012 is seeking class-action status. It spells out similar stories from other consumers. Roberts did not take part in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit covers a broad range of renters, including these examples:

  • A doctor in Denver was charged an extra $215 for insurance coverage
  • A senior citizen in California got a bill for $359
  • A retired insurance adjuster who handled claims for another rental car company was charged an extra $259

All said they did not ask for or want the extra insurance coverage.

The lawsuit claims, "Dollar is aware these practices are ongoing," and goes on to state that, "Dollar stands behind the practice of their employees tricking consumers into signing up for insurance or other add-ons they told agents they did not want or simply forging their signatures, thereby obtaining any purported 'consent' by forgery, trickery, fraud or mistake."

The Call 6 Investigators, along with several other Scripps stations, recently rented cars from Dollar and Thrifty.

While employees offered extra insurance coverage, our producers declined it and were never charged.

In a written statement, a spokesman said the company does not comment on pending litigation, but that, "Dollar Thrifty complies with all laws and denies allegations that it sells customers products they do not want."

Before buying extra coverage when traveling, a consumer should:

  • Check personal car's coverage. If a motorist has comprehensive and collision coverage, make sure it extends to rental cars
  • Check with credit card companies to see if they provide additional coverage
  • Consider the deductible. If there's a crash, the driver will at least pay the deductible out of pocket.

"What's coming first is their deductible. Anything above their deductible, the insurance company will take care of the damages," said State Farm Agent Matt Ciani.

Roberts went through his credit card to dispute the extra $135 charge, and Thrifty recently removed the charge.

He said that from now on, he will write across the face of the original bill that he wants no damage waiver and then ask for a copy to keep.

A Dollar Thrifty spokesman said the company intends to vigorously defend the cases.

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