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Survey: Travelers Believe Most Rental Cars Damaged at Pickup

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As travel begins to reopen across the world, more travelers are becoming skeptical about their rental cars. In a recent survey, one-in-eight motorists say their car came to them damaged, while just over one-in-four say the damage was not properly recorded by the rental car company.

With the continued distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, companies in the travel industry are excited to welcome flyers back from all corners of the world. However, those same travelers may be getting more skeptical about the quality of their rental cars once they get to their destination. A recent survey by British artificial intelligence platform Zegami suggests more people are seeing damages to their rentals before they ever leave the lot.

Travelers Say Car Rental Companies are Not Good at Assessing Rental Damage

The survey was commissioned by the Oxford-based company, and completed by Consumer Intelligence. Exactly 1,040 British travelers were surveyed on March 1, 2021, and asked about their attitudes towards rental cars.

Based on their data, the biggest problem travelers have with their rental cars is the lack of recorded damage. Of those surveyed who rented a car in the past five years, 12 percent said their rentals already had damage before they drove away. Moreover, 27 percent said their car rental companies did not properly record the damages to the car, while only four percent of renters said they were blamed for pre-existing damages.

“It is a common concern that drivers can get unfairly blamed for damage to cars and end up facing repair bills,” Zengami CEO and founder Roger Noble said in a press release. “The same applies to rental firms if they don’t record damage to cars.”

Zengami says they are working on a machine learning technology with Ebbon Intelligence to accurately record damage. Their goal is to develop technologies to help rental fleet owners manage their risk and ensure their cars get correct repairs when needed.

Even though properly recording damage remains an issue, travelers still say a rental car is going to be a key part of their future travel. One-fifth of travelers said they would rent a car in the next 12 months, with one-third of them being first-time renters.

Data Comes as Future of Rental Car Companies Hang in the Balance

The new data comes as rental car companies re-imagine their future after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent filing, Hertz announced investors coming in after their bankruptcy may not receive any compensation under their emergence plan.

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