x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hire car firms may not cover storm damages

Companies say customers must pay for water and hail-related problems.

Hire car companies say customers must pay for damage caused by driving on flooded roads.
Hire car companies say customers must pay for damage caused by driving on flooded roads.

 

DUBAI // Some hire car companies are warning customers they risk having to pay for any damage to their vehicles caused by driving through flooded roads.

The notices have angered motorists, who claim that they pay enough already in hire charges and should not be held responsible for the weather. Forecasters have predicted rain in the next few days, raising the risk of flooding in some areas.

The hire firm Diamondlease told customers not to drive through flooded roads as it may lead to permanent engine damage that is not covered under the insurance policy.

The policy would not be implemented without regards to the individual circumstances, said Sasi Kumar, the firm’s assistant operations manager. “We will try and get it covered under the insurance policy, but it depends on the area and the circumstances,” he said. “Knowingly causing damage will not be entertained.”

The e-mail prompted an angry reaction from customers, who said that bad weather could effectively force them off the road for fear of damaging the vehicle.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous,” said Douglas Hubbs, a Canadian manager for a supply chain firm in Dubai. “You would think that the insurance company would cover that. It’s not your fault when it rains.”

Julie Gilliam, a Briton who works for an events firm, said customers were already paying a lot to hire the cars and the costs should be borne by the company. She said the rule against driving through flooded areas should be applied according to the situation.

“If you are old enough to drive, you know not to drive through a huge puddle,” she said. “It’s where they draw the line, though.”

Hertz Rent-a-Car is also urging customers to take care on the roads at this time of year, said Neil Munro, the sales and marketing manager for the firm’s Dubai office.

“We always warn our customers to take care on the road and use common sense,” he said. “At this time of year we will always get a number of incidents from the rains, but there have been relatively few cases where the hirer was charged.

“However, when it is driver abuse or wilful negligence, our insurance company is unlikely to pay out. In those cases we may need to contact the hirer.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae