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Ontario man who declined rental insurance 'panicked' when told he must pay $50K for stolen truck

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A Toronto man who had a rental truck stolen from his driveway the night before he was set to return it said he was shocked to find himself on the hook for almost $50,000 to replace it.

“I almost had a little heart attack. I sure panicked,” Thomas Coish told CTV News Toronto.

Coish needed to rent a truck in December for two weeks for personal use while searching for another vehicle to buy. He rented a 2022 Ram pick-up truck from Enterprise and declined to pay extra for additional insurance.

"I do have car insurance on my own car, so I’m thinking well, okay, I have insurance, I’m okay to rent this vehicle,” he said.

But, on the night before he was sent to return the truck, Coish said it was stolen from his driveway.

As it turned out, Coish only had liability coverage, not collision and comprehensive, so he wasn’t covered for theft and was told he must pay Enterprise Holdings $49,832 for the stolen truck.

"So now the (rental car) insurance company is coming after me because I’m not covered for it and they want $50,000 out of my pocket," he said.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to Enterprise for comment, Mike Wilmering, Public Relations Manager with Enterprise Holdings said in a statement, “It’s important to note, customers are financially responsible for damage or theft that occurs during a rental transaction, just as if they owned the rental vehicle themselves.”

“Sometimes, customers mistakenly believe if they didn’t personally cause the loss of the vehicle or witness any damage [for example, vehicle theft, a “hit-and-run” incident in a parking lot, flooding or hail damage] that they are not responsible,” he said, adding that this is one of the most common misconceptions about rental vehicle damage.

Enterprise recommends customers familiarize themselves with what coverage their own insurance provides for rental vehicles before renting a car. The company also reminded customers that it offers additional coverage options “that could release the renter from financial responsibility in most cases,” including damage waiver, personal accident insurance/personal effects coverage and roadside protection.

These options are good for “peace of mind,” Wilmering said.

“In this case, Mr. Coish did not elect to use any of our additional coverage options, and his personal insurance coverage was not sufficient to cover the loss of the vehicle,” he continued.

Coish’s insurance company, The Co-operators, told CTV News Toronto in a statement that it understands how “difficult this situation with Enterprise must be for Mr. Coish.”

Insurance coverage can extend to a rental vehicle in two ways, The Co-operators said in its statement. When an insured vehicle is out of service, coverage can extend from that vehicle to a temporary substitute vehicle, like a rental. If the insured vehicle has optional physical damage coverage, like collision and comprehensive, then coverage can extend to the temporary substitute.

In addition, consumers can also purchase additional insurance, known as an OPCF 27 endorsement, that provides extended coverage for damage to non-owned automobiles, such as rental cars, it said.

“However, if a consumer decides not to purchase insurance that covers physical damage or the OPCF 27 endorsement, there is no coverage available to them that we can extend to a rental vehicle from their own insurer,” the company said. “We suggest they contact their insurance company prior to signing the rental agreement.”

Coish’s mother, Diane Coish, told CTV News Toronto she feels for her son.

"I feel awful for him. I didn't want it to ruin his credit rating. He is a young man and he may want to buy a home one day,” Diane said.

Coish said he has been offered a payment plan of $2,500 a month, but that he's not sure how he can possibly repay the full amount.

“It's just upsetting to know this is an incident that's going to ruin my financial status. You can't just throw a number out there like that and expect someone to pay,” he said.

If you buy insurance from the rental company, you should be covered for most things that could happen, but if you use your own insurance policy or a credit card there could be deductibles and limitations, so it's important to check in advance what you’re covered for.

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