SAN ANTONIO — Quinton Hoover was involved in an accident in January.
He wasn't at fault, and the other party's insurance provider paid for a rental at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Unfortunately, that rental car was stolen from Hoover's apartment complex two weeks later, even though he brought the key inside the apartment.
The vehicle was eventually found in Eagle Pass, to Hoover's relief. But what came next wasn't: Arriving in the mail was a letter from Enterprising stating that he would have to pay for the damages.
"Our review indicates that you are responsible for the damage to our vehicle," the letter stated.
The amount due was $5,688.
He couldn't believe it.
"Going to sleep and waking up, and it's just gone—it's hard to imagine anyone could say that I'm at fault," Hoover said.
Due to the terms and conditions of the Enterprise contract, Hoover was liable for the damage. Richard Johnson, communications director for the Insurance Council of Texas, told KENS 5 these circumstances aren't unusual in Texas.
He said the driver is often still on the hook for repairs even if the rental was paid though someone else's insurance.
"The renter of the car, even if it is a courteously vehicle from an insurance company, is responsible for that vehicle," Johnson said.
Still, there was one other significant factor: The car was a Kia Optima. Certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles had already been exposed on social media as being extremely easy to steal because the vehicles lacked an immobilizer feature. Five such vehicles made the SAPD's list of top-ten stolen vehicles last January, and the Kia Optima was the second-most-stolen vehicle in the city.
A new software update to fix the problem was only recently rolled out, but it was possible that not all rental vehicles had been updated.
KENS 5 reached out to Enterprise last week to ask for a response and a potential solution. On Monday, Enterprise Holdings told both KENS 5 and Hoover that they were closing the claim and would no longer be seeking to collect from him.
"We looked into the circumstances surrounding the claim on Mr. Hoover’s rental and will be closing this claim," Enterprise Holdings spokeswoman Lisa Martini said. "We want our customers’ experience to be the best it can be, and while our goal is their ultimate satisfaction, we recognize these types of incidents are not just affecting car rental, they are a broader consumer issue. That’s why we are supportive of working with local leaders and authorities in promoting efforts that ultimately protect our customers from falling victim to crime.
"Such incidents not only cause damage to vehicles, but they increase costs over time related to replacement and purchasing pricy parts and repair."
Martini also told KENS 5 their company was still working to apply security updates to the Hyundai and Kia vehicles in their fleet as those updates become available.
Hoover said the news was a relief, especially with tax season on the horizon.
"The issue with the Kias being stolen right now was the big issue that they were willing to have some leniency towards this time," Hoover said. "It's a huge weight taken off my shoulders. It was like a dark cloud looming over me. I didn't know how I was going to come up with that extra money.
Hoover said is now making sure that his personal insurance covers rental theft in the future. KENS 5 recently reported on what customers should know, and ask about, when renting a car.
He said KENS 5 was helpful in getting his issue solved and hopes other people will be able to avoid the same situation.
"I was really worried this would all just fall on me and I wouldn't have a way around it," he added.
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