Police warn car companies about renting out vehicles whose registration or insurance is expired.
Car rentals under fire for expired documents
DUBAI // Police say motorists should beware of car rental companies that are renting out vehicles with expired insurance and registration.
The infraction leaves clients at risk of large bills if they have an accident, or of having the car impounded.
Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zaffin, head of the traffic department, said renting out cars with expired documents was a common practice by some companies, mainly small car rental firms.
"Many times we have confiscated rental cars as they were driven with expired insurance or registration or both," said Maj Gen Al Zaffin, who could not provide exact figures of the number of rental cars impounded for those reasons.
The rental companies involved in this type of activity usually do not ask their clients for credits cards, he added.
"They give clients a hint that they do not care what happens to the car," Maj Gen Al Zaffin said.
The traffic department is working to insure that companies cannot get a trade licence without a recommendation letter from police, which they will not issue if there is a record of such infractions.
Bryn Roberts, a teacher, rented a car from the Discount Rent A Car on November 8. He said he was shocked to find out that the car did not have any insurance and that its registration had expired more than a year earlier. He only made the discovery when police pulled him over.
"I was driving on the E311, on my way to work, when Dubai Police stopped me and asked me to follow them to their impound area," he said. "I was horrified when I found out that I have been driving both an uninsured and unregistered car for more than three weeks. What would have happened if I had an accident?"
The insurance coverage had been expired for about five months, while the registration had expired in March 2010, according to documents provided by Mr Roberts.
When he rented the car, the company gave him with a copy of the registration and told him he had third-party insurance.
"It just did not cross my mind to check the documents, as I have previously rented cars and did not experience any problems," he said.
But the fine for the infraction was issued in his name.
Maj Gen Al Zaffin said the responsibility of insuring and renewing the registration of the car is that of the car rental company.
"The car rental company is the one which must pay all the that which are accumulated on their cars, including these violations which were committed by their clients," he said.
No one at Discount Rent A Car was available for comment. But Discount's fleet was sold to Enterprise Rent A Car in September, according to Enterprise's operations manager, Ahmed Al Hadi.
Mr Roberts said Enterprise told him they were responsible for the car he rented.
"We only bought the fleet, and not the company, and there were some cars which were not insured and registered. But we have now insured all the cars and we are currently working on renewing their registration," Mr Al Hadi said.
Mr Al Hadi said some clients who had the cars when Enterprise bought the fleet had problems with uninsured vehicles.
"Some clients approached us regarding this matter, and we are adjusting the situation," he said.
Several other car rental companies said all their vehicles were both insured and with a valid registration cards. Many also said they provided the original registration card when a person rented a car.
Kimberly Banag, a customer service agent at Speed Drive, said that the company made sure that all its vehicles were insured before they were rented.
"When a car's insurance is nearly expired we renew it," she said.
Omar Saed, the owner of Victory Rent A Car, said he had never heard of any other practice.
"We do not rent out cars unless everything is valid," he said. "I have not heard about anyone doing so as well."