The rental car business in the United States is a multi-billion dollar industry. The largest rental car company is Enterprise which also owns Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent A-Car and National Car Rental. Enterprise alone has nearly a million vehicles on the road with over 6,202 locations in the U.S. alone. Hertz, Avis and Dollar come in second, third and fourth.
Florida’s warm weather, Orlando’s theme parks and Miami’s beaches and nightlife attract millions of tourist each year from around the world. Many tourists rent cars directly at the airport. Each year Florida’s tourism industry attracts nearly 14 million visitors from 181 countries who spend $15 billion.
Many of the people who rent cars in Miami come from foreign countries and are completely unfamiliar with Florida’s traffic laws. In January 2013, the Florida legislature enacted Florida Statute §322.04, a law requiring international drivers to carry a valid International Driving Permit in addition to a valid license from their home country to drive or rent a car in Florida. Within a month, Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced that it would not enforce the law.
The law applied to all international drivers, including Canada where a majority of Florida’s seasonal tourists are from. The Canadian Automobile Association was particularly annoyed by the law since millions of Canadians reside in South Florida during the winter months, considering it a second home.
Rental car companies like Alamo were also furious because the new law interfered with the ability of rental car companies to make money. Within a month, the Florida legislature repealed the law. Now foreign drivers are free to drive on Florida roads as long as they possess a valid non-commercial driver’s license from their own country.
RENTAL CAR INSURANCE
Auto rental business also makes a lot of money in selling insurance policies to customers. Each person’s insurance situation is different and there is no general rule. The fine print in rental agreements can be nearly impossible to read or understand. However, most people do not realize that their own homeowners insurance or credit card already provides rental auto insurance coverage. This is why most major rental car companies require that a credit card be used to pay for the transaction.
There are significant benefits from buying collision insurance from rental companies, in the event of damage or theft of the vehicle. The collision damage waiver usually costs between $20 and $40 dollars a day depending on the kind of car and where it is rented.
The Graves Amendment is a federal law that insulates rental car companies from responsibility when one of their customers injures or kills someone driving their cars. Florida’s Supreme Court recently interpreted the Graves Amendment to protect companies like Avis and Hertz even when their customers have not purchased any available coverage. This means that people who get into accidents in Florida with a rental car are often left with little or no compensation.
Our rental car accident lawyers understand how to navigate Florida’s complex rental car insurance laws in order to assist those who have been involved in an accident with a rented vehicle, including both the driver and passengers in a rented car or truck. If you have been hit by a rented or leased car in Florida please contact our office for a free consultation regarding your legal rights. You may be entitled to money damages for lost time from work, doctor, hospital and ambulance expenses and money for pain and suffering. All of our first conversations with potential clients are free of charge. We proudly represent people in cases against rental car companies from Key West to Amelia Island–in every county in State of Florida.