Don’t get me wrong—I like to rent a car when I’m on a long trip and have lots of driving to do, but I often question the wisdom of claim departments that have a direct line to the auto rental companies for an assignment every time a claimant’s or insured’s damaged car has to go to the body shop for repairs. As an urban dweller, the fuss and bother of finding the rental agency, signing contracts, and pledging one’s first-born if the car is returned with damage, is a bigger nuisance than just walking up to the corner and catching the next bus to wherever one is headed.

Consider London’s transportation system. The city has practically outlawed automobiles from the center of town, so a rental would more than likely be left parked somewhere. New York City is another driver’s nightmare. It is much easier to take a train into town and transfer to the subway than it is to drive in that traffic. Hence, a rented car would again be parked at some rail station and left for the day.

The practice of assigning rental cars for virtually every auto damaged in a wreck has financial consequences galore for the insured, who ends up paying twice for the very same thing: they pay an auto insurance premium that includes “loss of use” for property damage and “transportation expenses” under physical damage coverage, plus they pay taxes to operate a municipal transit system that probably also gets a subsidy from the federal government (which is more tax money that we all must pay).

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