Car hire legal question

alexcal Image
10/20/2012 - 08:15

i'm not sure if i should have put this question in legal. recently hired a car in italy and returned it with damaged. the damage was caused while the car was parked by flying debis due the bad weather on the night of 15 October (it was like a huricane). when i went out to the car in the morning there was a dent in the bonnet caused by a roof tile or thin brick which i have no clue where it came from. my question is, should i be held responsible for this? this is an act of god which i had no control over. though i have excess insurance the company is charging me an admisitration as well which i don't think i will be able to claim back. i would be grateful for any advice regarding this matter. thanks alex



Unless God told you to park it where you did, then yes you are liable, and you can't use Act of God as defence, as high winds are a natural phenomenon. Insurance Companies like to point out that you parked the car in an area that was dangerous (a friend of our was told that when a tree fell on his bonnet) in the event of adverse conditions. You will be able to claim on Fully Comp insurance, but in Legal terms you should submit a claim to the owner of said tile/brick or building it came from, as technically it is their fault in having unsecured masonry. Sorry studied Law at College and we had the Devils Advocate as a Tutor.

In reply to by Flip

point flip taken but, the reasons you point out are exactly why i am not responsible. it didn't matter where i parked, millions of euros worth of damage took place in the town that evening. act of god is always mention in insurance talk. if you studied law you'll be aware that it's open to interpretation depending on how well argued it is, instead of people's personal opinion. my argument is that i had absolutely no control over events that took place. i've had a similar situation in this country where an insurance company told me adamently that i was responsible until i took the matter to the ombudsman, then a prompt review took place and the opposite was decided. is there an ombudsman or similar in italy?   thanks.

Your problem here Alexcal, will probably be in the wording of the agreement you signed when you hired the Car i.e. the Fine Print, and all this is probably hidden in various clauses that you signed in agreement with. Unless you can categorically point out to them where it says you are NOT liable under these circumstances to pay what they are claiming then, unfortunately, you have no chance of sucess Ombudsman or no. It is porbably covered in a clause that says you are responsible for ...  'any damage caused...' and not differentiating between Act of God and accidental etc.

Just to note an experience last year with Europecar + Hertz; I arranged to hire a car from AutoEurope, and travelled to San Benedetto del Tronto to collect the car. Although I had the address of the supposed AutoEurope office, I found the address occupied by Hertz. The guy in the office in fact informed me that AutoEurope was affliiated to Hertz. We went through the usual procedure (I'm a Hertz Gold Card client) and the guy accompanied me to the car; parked in the railway station car park at San B. Before I left I asked the guy if I should return the car to the bay at San B. station. "No, you can leave it on the kerb outside the office please". Hire period over; I did as instructed, and returned the car to the kerb outside the office. The guy did not leave the office, but accepted the keys and I departed. After some months a threatening letter arrived from Hertz, telling me I had caused a 'bleb' on one of the car tyres, and if I did not pay within 'x' days, I would be prosecuted. (180 euros +) I contested their accusation, due to the fact that the car was not returned to their original bay; their rep. had not inspected it, and in fact had not gotten out of his chair in the office before I left. After 2 or 3 calls to their 'special' offices in Rome, Hertz wrote to say that they had dropped their claim. If you can; give them some grief as occasionally it is too costly for the company to persue the situation, and cheaper in the long run for them to back off.

Motor insurance in Europe typically covers natural perils -which are normally wind,flood and hail (earthquake can sometimes be excluded ).You do not have to be responsible for the cause of loss to make a claim,which generally is a good thing if it is your own car which has been damaged through no fault of your own. If it had been your own car the choice would have been to pay for the repairs yourself,make an insurance claim or to live with the damage.Under a car hire agreement this last option is not avaialble as under the rental agreement one is responsible to return the car in the same condition as received,or to pay to restore it back to that condition if it has been damaged ( from one's own pocket or via insurance). I was debited earlier this year by Advantage for damage which did not exist and was not substantiated.I denied liability both through the credit card company on which the debit was taken and also through the agent ,Auto Europe ( who were very helpful).After six weeks they confirmed the charge would be reversed,with no explanation given.I will not use them again.However this scenaro is quite different to the one applying to Alexcal but similar to Andrew's.