How Long Does A Car Rental Legally Have To Notify Customer of Damage Claim?

How Long Does A Rental Car Company Have To Charge You For Damages?

There are numerous considerations to make while renting a car, one of which is car damages. The vehicle may be damaged before you pick it up or after you return it—just before the rental company performs a final inspection. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about rental car damages and the individual damage policy of some top rental companies in the United States.

Man inspect dented car

Reasons Car Rental Companies May Charge For Damages

Dents and scratches are the most typical types of rental car damages. However, some are not covered by insurance.

The following are common types of car rental damages and the penalty fees of top rental companies in the U.S.

  • Dent

A dent is considered a car damage if it is larger than 2 inches and was not marked on the pick-up statement. Alamo charges an excess fee of $481 for dents and Enterprise charges range from $495 to $500.

However, no dent should be taken for granted because not all rental businesses rigorously adhere to the 2-inch guideline. Some rental companies may charge you for dents less than 2 inches. 

While male fixing a car body

  • Scratches

Any scratch larger than 1.9 inches, and not noted on the current vehicle condition report when you pick up the rental car, is deemed a damage and must be paid for.

It’s considered a scratch if it goes through the paint of the vehicle’s outside surface including the top, sides, rail, and tailgate.

Rental companies like Hertz and Alamo charge fees of $200 and $481 respectively for scratches.

Newly scratched car body

  • Wear and tear

Wear and tear refers to any significant deterioration of the vehicle during everyday use during the contract period.

The rental company would issue a document outlining reasonable wear and tear restrictions that correspond to generally accepted standards. This includes tire, bumper, window damage, and any interior faults. 

Top companies such as Budget and National don’t specify charges for wear and tear in their terms and conditions, or any damages in fact, but charge renters based on the degree of the damage.

However, clients that purchased a loss damage waiver won’t pay for damages. 

  • Cracks

Cracks are most commonly found on mirrors and windscreens. For top rental companies, the cost of crack damages is dependent on its extent. It should be noted, however, that insurance does not cover windscreen cracks.

Rental Company Damage Type Charges
Alamo Scratch or dent  $481
Enterprise Dent  $495-$500
Budget Loss or damages Loss damage waiver starting from $9 per day
Avis Loss or damages Collision damage waiver  starting from $9 daily
Thrifty Damages apart from the car underside $20 per 24 hours
Hertz Scratch $200
National Loss or damages Loss damage waiver of $10.99-$500 per day

How Long Do Companies Take To Notify Customer of Any Damage & Billings?

The duration specified in the rental agreement determines how long it will take for a rental company to charge you for car damages.

Generally, individuals and rental car companies are held to the same standard. As a result, they must notify clients of damage and billings as soon as they inspect the returned rental, along with evidence of the rental car’s before and after conditions. 

The timelines for charge claims of top rental companies in the US are provided below.

  • Avis: Avis processes a damage claim in between 30 and 60 days.
  • Budget: Damage claims are sent to clients within 30 days, but can sometimes take up to 150 days.
  • Thrifty: A timeline of at 18 hours-30 days is used for making a damaged claim at Thrifty.
  • Hertz: Hertz processes a damage claim immediately or within the first 28 days.
  • National: Notifying clients of damage claims can take up to 60 days.
  • Alamo: Alamo processes a damage claim within 30 days.
Company Damage process timeline
Avis 30 – 60 days
Budget 30 – 150 days
Thrifty 18 hours – 30 days
Hertz Instantly – 28 days
National Up to 6 days
Alamo 30 days

How To Dispute Rental Car Charges Considered Unfair?

It can be pretty challenging to dispute unfair rental car charges because it’s your word against theirs. Here are some useful strategies for challenging unjust rental car fees.

  • Online claim

Get in touch with the rental company’s online customer service and submit a claim with supporting documents and photos.

The customer service team will probably inquire more and investigate by contacting the location you used. This option is best if you booked your car online.

  • Contact your credit card company

If your online claim is rejected, you can file a “chargeback” with your credit card company. They will look into the charge and ensure a refund if there is a doubt about your liability.

Blue car rare light

  • Legal complaint

You can complain to an Ombudsman or the helpline for a consumer rights organization. If you wish to take the matter to court, you might also consider speaking with a lawyer.

This is typically the last option for challenging unreasonable rental charges.

What Happen If I Refuse To Pay Rental Car Damage?

The rental company will submit a claim against your insurance if you choose not to cover the rental car damage.

When you pay with a debit card or cash, your insurance carrier and number are typically provided as part of the application process for the rental in the beginning.

After that, your insurance is notified of the damage so it can be taken up. In general, whether you damaged the car or not, you will be responsible for the damage if you did not get damage waiver protection.

If you are uncooperative, they may blacklist you, which would prevent you from renting from them or any of their partner or subsidiary rental companies until you make amends.

Two cars crash into each other


What is rental car door ding? Does it attract charges?

Similar to dents, rental door dings happen when a door hits the side panel of another car.

A ding is typically a small-diameter scratch that doesn’t harm the paint or expose any vulnerable metal to rust. However, for door dings, some rental companies, like Avis, charge as much as $833.

What do Enterprise car damage costs entails?

The cost of Enterprise car damages varies according to the degree and nature of the damage. Dents and dings might cost as much as $495.

However, there is a damage waiver that, when purchased, protects you from paying exorbitant damage fees.

What happens if you damage a rental car with insurance?

If you cause damage to a rental car that is insured, a claim will be filed with your auto insurance provider for the cost of any repairs up to the rental company’s policy limit.

What are thrifty car rental damage charges?

Thrifty terms and conditions only specify insurance purchase at their location counter, where they offer a loss damage waiver of $20-$22 per day, $17 per day for additional liability excess, a personal accident insurance waiver of $17 per day, and a super damage waiver of $15 to $17 per day.

Can I get waiver for bumper damage cost on rented car?

You certainly can. The collision damage waiver covers the car’s bodywork, including the doors, bumper, bonnet, back, side panels, and wing mirror housings.


Rental car damages can cost you a lot of money and cause stress; some rental companies have stricter damage policies than others.

This is why it is commonly recommended that a collision or loss damage waiver be obtained to avoid the additional expense of damages on rental cars.

Man feeling his car