I came across 2 problematic accident claims against Car Rental Companies. What happened was that hirers of both car rental companies have violated the terms & conditions of the rental agreement and hence the insurance companies of the respective car rental companies have repudiated their liability to the claims against them.
Details of the 2 cases:
My client was hit from the back by the hirer of the rental vehicle at a traffic junction. A straight forward case but later the insurance company rejected my client’s 3rd party claim against them as they have found out that the hirer did not meet the required age of 23 and above restriction imposed on most rental vehicle insurance policies. My client quickly instructed us to direct his claims against the driver and the rental car company. Unfortunately, we found out that the driver were not capable of paying the damages and the only choice were to either file for bankruptcy of the driver or claim from the rental car company. As it will not be financially beneficial to claim from the driver, my client directed the claim at the rental car company.
The rental car company hired a lawyer to file for defense of the claim indicating that it is clearly stated in their rental agreement that they will not be responsible for the actions of their driver hence they should not liable for any claims. The tussle goes on till today after 2 years.
I was approached to study a case involving an accident between a rental car driven by a foreigner and a passenger vehicle. Same scenario, clear cut situation front to rear. The insurance company quickly rejected the claim after they found out that the hirer did not renew his international license at the point of accident. The rental company have also openly avoided any claims against them indicating that based on their rental agreement, any claims due to driver actions should be directed to the driver at the point of time. However, the foreigner has since returned to his native country.
Bear in mind that the 2 rental car companies are very established companies that have the resources to resolve these problems. However on the same note, they also have the financial muscle to engage lawyers to counter any individuals that are claiming against them. Question is does the individuals have the resources to go after the companies and their hirers?
It seems to be a grey area in this matter, if the insurance companies do not have responsibility to ensure that their hirers are fulfilling their insurance companies terms and conditions at the point of sale and the entire contract period, who has that responsibility? That only means that there will be no control as to who can rent or not rent eligible to driver a rental car in Singapore. Any rouge foreigner can just walk right into a car rental company and hire a vehicle without any responsibility what ever so for their actions in Singapore. Should an accident happens, it take at least 3 days (24 hours for reporting + 48 hours pre repair survey) to establish the claim procedure, the foreigner can just skip town after doing all the necessary police report.
Is there a way to protect our drivers on similar issues? Looking at these matters, one question arises?! Who is governing the operation of rental companies? LTA? ACRA? MAS? GIA? Which authority can the victims approach to resolve this matter?
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