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Q: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!? ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: rexx-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 21 Jun 2002 19:07 PDT
Expires: 28 Jun 2002 19:07 PDT
Question ID: 31442
Lately I notice that rent-a-car companies want to charge an extra fee
if you rent a car and want to have more than one "authorized" driver. 
Once they even wanted $5/day extra for my *wife* to be an additional
driver!  (Frequently, a spouse is included at no extra charge, but,
say, my brother is not.)  Where do they get off charging this fee?!?

I am a 49-year-old driver with a clean record.  I decline their
insurance and depend on my own personal auto policy.  What business is
it of theirs who drives the car?  I am the one who is finally liable,

Has anyone seen and court cases about this?  What can happen if I say
that nobody else will drive the car, and then there is some problem
with another driver?
Subject: Re: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
Answered By: googlebrain-ga on 21 Jun 2002 20:26 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
I did some digging around on some of the "Rent A Car" websites, and
found they mostly all do like charging extra to have "Additional
Drivers." And mostly won't honor any insurance claims of unauthorized
drivers whether you paid or not.

Quote From "Federal Trade Commission - Facts for consumers"

"Some.." (Collision Damage Waivers) "..exclude coverage under certain
circumstances. For example, coverage may be revoked if you damage the
car when driving it in a negligent manner, on unpaved roads, or out of
the state in which you rented the vehicle. Some companies void their
CDW coverage if a driver drinks alcohol or if a non-authorized driver
operates the car."

Quote from "Car Rental Tips"

"Is it a problem if I let someone else drive the car without first
listing them as an additional authorized driver?
 - Yes, and it can be a big one. If someone else drives the car
without the Rental Company’s permission, you have most likely violated
the contract terms and any protection you had under that contract may
be voided.
 - This violation could complicate or even negate claims against your
personal insurance and negatively impact any coverage you receive from
your credit card.
 - If the police stop an unauthorized driver, that driver can be
detained or even arrested because they don’t have any legal right to
have possession of the car."

So, basically, if you don't pay, they wont feel any obligation to pay
out on damages. But, as you said, you decline their insurance anyway,
so really I have a hard time seeing what they can do to you. They can
always not rent to you again, I suppose, but I haven't seen that
written anywhere.

Quote from "Fox Rent A Car"

"If you let a person drive the rental vehicle that is not an
authorized driver, or drive outside of the geographical restrictions,
any insurance coverage you purchase at the rental counter will be
voided in case of any accident or damage to the rental unit."

Now, to address "where they get off charging this fee."  

Simply, I'd say they do it cause they can get away with it. They can
put just about any silly thing they want into the contract, and if you
sign it, you're bound to it. They can even put in that you have to
paint the car a different color if you rent it on a Thursday. (Of
course, they wouldn't.. cause Judges and Juries all rent cars too. :)
But basically, if they demand it, and you sign a contract saying you
will abide, then you have to do it.

Also, what's NOT in the agreement is as important as what is in it. If
they don't specify what can happen if you violate the agreement, then
it will pretty much be restricted to things like paying for the
Additional Driver, or being left to handle damages by yourself. Yes, I
suppose they can claim that since it's their car, and the person
driving was unknown to them, that the car was "stolen", but I really
don't see that flying.

Personally, I'd pay the $5.00 and remove a little worry from my life,
but that's just me.  :)


Assorted Facts I couldn't squeeze into the Narrative:

In some states ( California, New York, and Nevada ) a spouse is
automatically an Authorized Driver.

Additional Links:

InterAmerican Car Rental

Southwest Airlines Car Reservations
Policies and Procedures

Midway Car Rental

Dollar Rent A Car

Search Strategy:

"rental car" authorized driver
rexx-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars
I guess I have misunderstood the service offered here -- I would have
preferred an answer from someone with some actual expertise on this
subject, rather than someone who just searched the web for related

 > So, basically, if you don't pay, they wont feel any obligation
 > to pay out on damages. But, as you said, you decline their
 > insurance anyway, so really I have a hard time seeing what
 > they can do to you. They can always not rent to you again, I
 > suppose, but I haven't seen that written anywhere. 

This is exactly the issue I was curious about, but remains unanswered.

Subject: Re: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
From: benjaminhopkins-ga on 21 Jun 2002 20:46 PDT
I think Googlebrain has given a reasonable answer however he has not
fully addressed the "Where do they get off charging this fee?!?!"

A good friend of mine owns a hire car company, and I have it on good
authority that the reason they charge more for an extra person driving
the car is because they have to pay insurance on every driver that
hires a car, if another person is driver the car then they need to
insure this person as well.
Subject: Re: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
From: googlebrain-ga on 21 Jun 2002 21:07 PDT
That doesn't seem right somehow. Only one person can be driving at a
time. Both drivers can't claim seperatly if there is an accident. If
anything, having two drivers would probably work in favor of avoiding
crashes and such, (taking turns, being more alert, etc...)

Insurance companies work strictly from statistics. It's how they make
money. And mostly, if they can improve their odds, they are gonna
offer a lower rate. (IE: Getting a Discount for taking a Defensive
Driving course)

Now, if the Gubbament is forcing them to charge this extra fee, that's
a while different story. The Gov. doesn't have to have a good reason
for doing things. :) But mostly, I am gonna stick with the opinion
that it's just another way for the "Rent A Car" people to make a few
extra bucks.

 benjaminhopkins-ga, (Can I call you Ben?) You say your friend's
company "has to" pay insurance on extra drivers. Could you find out if
it's their insurance provider, or Uncle Sam, or who it is that's
making them do this? I'm really interested now. (That's why I love
this job, I get to learn all kindsa' new things. :)
Subject: Re: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
From: benjaminhopkins-ga on 22 Jun 2002 07:48 PDT
Yes you can call me Ben, I live in the UK so I don't know about
insurance companys in the States and Uncle Sams interference. However
in the UK if you want to legally drive a car on the roads then you
MUST be insured on that vechicle, its the law if you are found driving
without insurance then you could be facing a driving ban or even
prison. So it doesn't matter if anyone else is insured on the vechicle
as well, the driver must be insured. I know this is how insurance
works in the UK and it must be the same for the US?

p.s how long does it normally take for google to come back to someone
applying to become a researcher?
Subject: Re: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
From: madsky101-ga on 22 Jun 2002 08:52 PDT

I work for a major car rental company, and I can assure you that the
additional driver's fees that you are required are for the renter's
protection as much as they are for the rental car companies

The car rental companies have to recoup charges for the expenses that
they incur, such as their own insurance coverages.  The insurance that
the rental car companies pay, has nothing to do with whether or not
their clients are covered by their own personal insurance. It is
liability protections against the company for allowing individuals to
drive their vehicles.

For example, in the United States if you are under the age of 25yrs,
most insurance companies charge an inflated rate for personal
insurance coverages.  Some rental car companies will not even allow
drivers under the age of 25yrs to even drive their vehicles, because
of the costs to the company.  Not only do they have to pay premiums to
the insurance companies to allow driver's over 25yrs to drive their
vehicles, but the also have to pay inflated rates for driver's under
25yrs.  The rental car companies, that will allow driver's under 25yrs
to drive their vehicles, will recoup these costs by charging the
renter's "underage driver's fees".

It is similar to the additional driver's fees.  These fees are set to
protect the company's product and the customer.  All driver's are
ultimately responsible for the rental car company's property.  That is
why all driver's must sign the rental contract, prove that they have a
valid driver's license, and in most instances, that they are credit
worthy by providing a major credit card.

Don't be misled into thinking that most private insurance carriers
will cover their full coverage clients in a rental car, it simply is
not true. And credit cards companies don't automatically provide
coverage either, as some people assume.

Although some credit card companies will cover the costs of LDW or
CDW, if something happens to the rental car the customer is
responsible to pay for any damages immediately.  Then the customer is
left to seek reimbursement from the credit card company.

Yes, I have heard people say well it is my choice, if I want to let
someone drive then I am responsible for what ever happens.  This is
all well and good, until "whatever" happens.  Then the clients don't
seem to eager to pay for someone else's destruction of the rental car.
 It happens everyday.

If say, Mr. Example rented a vehicle.  He was the only driver and he
also purchased the coverage's that were offered by the counter agent,
in particular, the Loss Damage Waiver(sometimes referred to as
Collision Damage waiver).  Mr. Example goes on his merry way, and
after the day is done retires for the evening.

During the night, Mr. Carthief breaks into, steals the car, and
totally demolishes the vehicle plus destroys two other vehicles as the
police were chasing him, before finally coming to a stop when he
wrecks into the plate glass window of a furniture company.

As long as Mr. Example can prove that he did not violate the terms of
the rental agreement, then the LDW would cover the damages, downtime,
and at worst replacement of the stolen vehicle, but he would have to
rely on his personal liability to handle the rest of the damages.

Now if Mr. Example did something that violated the rental agreement,
such as let's say, leaving the keys in the ignition and the door
unlocked.  Then the LDW he purchased at the counter will NOT cover the
destruction of the stolen rental vehicle.  Mr. Example is now
responsible for anything that happened during the theft of the
vehicle, and the costs of the repair, or replacement, of the rental

Mr. Example may not have invited Mr. Carthief to drive the car, but if
we operated under the concept of " What business is
it of theirs who drives the car?  I am the one who is finally liable,
right?", then Mr. Example is in big trouble, and so is the rental car
company for not keeping tighter reigns regarding their rental policies
and procedures.

Rental Car companies will bill a customer for the total price of the
vehicle, if the rental agreement is violated.  It happens every day. 
For example, a lady calls us and tells us that she is having car
trouble and needs another vehicle.  She is in the Puerto Rico.  When
asked her where she originally rented the vehicle, she said New York
City.  She signed a rental agreement stating that she could not take
the car anywhere outside of the domestic United States.  Her thinking
was, "I paid for the rental, and I can drive anywhere I want, now
bring me a new car."  This lady violated the rental agreement by
having the vehicle ferried to Puerto Rico, and unfortunately for her
it resulted in a charge being placed on her American Express for the
entire costs of a brand new Lincoln Towncar.

In every aspect of business, there must be rules and regulations for
that business to survive.  Abiding by the rules of the rental car
business protects the consumer and the rental car company.  They are
allowing customers to use one of their vehicles, worth thousands of
dollars, for usually a very reasonable fee.  And when the consumer
rents a vehicle, he expects the rental company to provide him with a
safe and reliable form of transportation, or he will take his hard
earned money to another company.

Following the rules of the rental agreements assure both the rental
company and the consumer, that each has done everything in their power
to protect the rental property. And the additional driver's fees that
are charged, aid in the attempt to provide assurance that responsible
people will be driving the rental car.
Subject: Re: Car Rental: Fee for Additional Driver?!?
From: smides-ga on 25 Feb 2005 11:42 PST
This charge never used to exist, and now it does.  Nobody has been
able to answer why it is now necessary whereas it never was before.

madsky101, are you implying that by taking the car to Puerto Rico the
damage to the rental company was the cost of an abused, ahem,
previously-owned towncar?  Seems like the rental company makes out
like a bandit in this case, as they get the $$ to buy a brand new
towncar, and the lady who rented the (heavily) used vehicle now has to
pay top dollar for something worth a good deal less.

I love how attempts by the service industry to screw its customers in
order to improve their bottom line are always framed as some kind of
benefit to the consumer.

I'm guessing that if a lawsuit were brought against these companies,
that these fees would be found to be illegal -- just another way to
get some additional revenue, as googlebrain suggests.

BTW, it's not simply a $5 fee.  I was charged $25 on my last 5-day
Boston Avis rental in under "ONE WAY FEE/MI".  At first I thought they
had made a mistake and thought I had driven it from Michigan!  Of
course this fee was never mentioned when I added the additional

I guess the question still stands: If you don't purchase the LDW and
rely, instead, on your own insurance for rental coverage, is there a
penalty for not paying this extra fee?

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