Do Car Rental Agencies Have to Report Collisions?

Are rental car companies in BC required to report any damage to their vehicles even if they repair the car themselves?

I purchased a used rental car from a Vancouver company that stated no accidents & same on CARFAX but it definitely appears to have had repairs done to the front end.

The question is deceiving

The question "Are rental car companies in BC required to report any damage ?" appears to question if rental companies must report vehicle damage to police.  The answer to the question addressed that aspect.

Apparently the question stemmed from someone purchasing a vehicle that was a former rental vehicle.  After purchase the new owner discovered evidence of repaired damage that wasn't revealed on the vehicle registration, nor in a CARFAX report.

If by "reporting damage" the person asking the question meant "Does a rental car company have to make a damage declaration when transfering a vehicle using the BC Tax Transfer Form (APV9T), the answer is certainly YES. 

The form transfering a vehicle also contains questions regarding previous vehicle history including "Has the vehicle ever been used for rental ?"

I believe the question, was directed at whether a rental company has to report accidents to the police, and thus damage to the vehicle.  The misconception being that reporting damage to the police would result in collision data being linked to the vehicle.

There are two sources of damage information linked to a vehicle, and a police accident report isn't one of them.

1) A damage declaration on the vehicle's registration.  The source is the actual owner of the vehicle when that owner SELLS the vehicle.  Once the vehicle is transfered after a sale where an owner had declared damage, that declaration is contained in the Motor Vehicle Database for that vehicle.

2) Information from an insurance company that has repaired the vehicle.  ICBC shares (for a price) damage information on vehicles that ICBC has paid to fix with CARFAX.  (ICBC will also sell that information to a buyer directly) I don't know if any other auto insurance companies operating in BC do the same, they may.  The key is that an insurance company, primarily ICBC has paid to fix the vehicle.

Obviously that means there are gapping holes in the system to determine by history if a vehicle has been involved in a collision.

That would especially be the case for "self insured" vehicles, where the company owning the vehicle pays directly for repairing a vehicle.  If they later sell the previously repaired vehicle and don't declare the damage on the transfer form, there is no record of the damage.

CARFAX is generally a good source for other information on a vehicle.  Especially "spun" odometers.  Odometer readings on vehicles that don't continually increase with time, but go down, can be an indicator of a major "problem".  It could be a sign that the odometer was replaced, but alarm bells should go off in the prospective purchaser's head.

A HUGE unsolved problem, especially with vehicles that have been brought in to BC from other jurisdictions are renumbered stolen vehicles.

If someone is buying a vehicle there is no resource in BC, even if the buyer is willing to pay, for checking that the vehicle is truely the vehicle indicated on the public serial number indicators (VINs) on the vehicle.

One way stolen vehicles are disguised is by using the public VINs from severly damaged vehicles.  Thus not finding signs of previous repairs can be as bad, if not worse than finding same.

...and no, having a mechanic check a vehicle, or doing a lien check or any other check will not reveal the true identity of the vehicle.  There are specialist that can identify these vehicle, but will not do so for the public.

Ironically if for some reason the vehicle is later suspected of being a renumbered stolen, these specialist who are not permitted to conduct these exams for the public, will do so to further a police investigation and bye bye vehicle if it turns out to be a stolen.

Answer

Currently in B.C. there is only a requirement to report a collision to people sustaining loss under Section 68 MVA and to your insurer as part of your contract of insurance. If you don't have insurance coverage and are the only vehicle involved, no doubt there are many collisions that are never recorded in any way.

ICBC does have some advice on the purchase of a used vehicle to help you avoid problems. It appears that ICBC recommends Carproof as they link to that site from theirs. However, one does have to be careful with either Carproof or Carfax as they cannot report crash damage that they don't hear about either. An article on the ConsumerAffairs web site does not paint a pretty picture of Carfax reports at all.

The Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. has a program called Watch Out for Walt that helps you spot suspicious private used vehicle sales tactics.

In your case, hopefully that company statement of no accidents was made in writing. You could use evidence from a body shop confirming collision damage repairs and Small Claims Court to recover damages for misrepresentation.

I may be way off on this, so please don't take it as correct!

It's been a few years since I was managing a fleet of vehicles, but my understanding and expectation would be that a car rental company would insure their vehicles with ICBC under a Fleet Policy.

Typically, this would result in a huge discount on their premiums, as in a 40% - 50% reduction - so long as they're not making claims against ICBC.

And even though companies - just like private citizens - owning and operating vehicles in BC must carry a basic policy for each of them through ICBC, they might well opt for the minimum in terms of ICBC liability coverage, depending on a separate company for this protection. They might also choose to effect repairs to their vehicles without involving ICBC, in order to protect their huge Fleet Policy discount.

So then it becomes a matter of what must be reported, and what is reported, when their is a crash of some kind; I'm pretty sure there will still be a minimum amount of collision damage ($1000+?) or injury, but whether or not that's followed may be questionable; particularly if ICBC aren't involved in any settlement of the same.

So if the vehicle you purchased appears to have suffered any kind of substantive damage - and a headlight can cost well over $1000 these days, just for the part - you may want to contact a lawyer. Particularly if you're unable to gain satisfaction from the vendor.

 

A couple things

The information pertaining to damage to a vehicle comes from a claim, yes, but not the entire claim.  ie, if ICBC paid out $20,000 to a pedestrian that was struck, the claim payment may have been fairly substantial but the damage to the vehicle may be minimal.

The source of the damage amount comes from the actual "Kind of Loss" for vehicle damage (KOL).

There are of course many types of auto insurance claims.  An owner may opt not to have ICBC repair their vehicle IF they are liable.  BUT in many instances the vehicle insured even by a fleet policy may not be liable, thus ICBC would be paying for the damage under the liability coverage of the third party vehicle.

If the repaired damage is significant, I agree with you that litigation may be an option.  The significant information would be if the Tax Transfer Form from the rental company indicates damage in excess of $2000.  Also if the rental company (extremely likely) was the original owner of the vehicle.

In a civil action, damages (what was lost, not damage to the vehicle) are the key.  What did the buyer loose  (or could loose) on the vehicle because of the repairs.  If the vehicle is working fine and it's just a case of "when I sell it, the next buyer may not pay me as much", they have a real up hill sturggle.  If there have been problems with the vehicle that can be attributed to the repaired damage, that must be quantified with proof available for court.

First thing to do is approach the company and see if they are willing to do something for the buyer, without the need for court.

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