No Smoking

The major rental car companies in the United States run smoke-free rental car fleets. In fact, clear evidence of smoking in a rental vehicle is the single most common reason renters get stuck paying cleaning fees on rental cars. A small subset of the renter population insists upon smoking in a rental car anyway. Most of those individuals sneaking a smoke in a rental car end up getting away with the infraction but some get caught. Especially when the "smoking in a rental car" is combined with the "Florida man" meme. We know what you're thinking -- does the rental car catch on fire in the rental return aisle? Not exactly. The rental car simply becomes a prop for TriMount Studios' Blow'd Up movie.

This rental SUV is going to blow.

And not a little blow'd up. A lot blow'd up. You see, Florida man and wife had a gas grill in the rental SUV, set to on, and the gas was running. Propane is intentionally scented to alert humans that there's a gas leak. Most people in a moving vehicle would stop to identify the source of the gas leak. This couple doesn't qualify as "most people". The female occupant of the vehicle lit a cigarette and ...

"That damage was there when we got the car!"

As this occurred in Florida, both occupants of the rental vehicle survived despite the destruction of the rental car from the inside (otherwise, the couple would be Darwin Awards finalists). And being a "Florida man" story, Florida man had arrest warrants, so he got a trip to the hospital and jail!

Logistical Question -- Who Pays for a Rental Car that Gets Blown Up?

Insurance frequently pays for acts of stupidity. However, insurance doesn't pay for acts of stupidity when a rental car contract is violated. Damage waivers from the rental car company? Void when a rental car contract is violated. Damage waiver from a credit card? Void when a rental car contract is violated. Personal automobile coverage that includes rental cars? Void when a rental car contract is violated.

One doesn't have to be an insurance professional to realize this poor Kia is totaled. So while the renter of this ill-fated SUV will get stuck with the tab for the replacement cost of the vehicle, administrative fees, and loss of use, we suspect it may be hard for the unnamed rental company to collect damages, even if holding the renter's feet to the fire. The takeaways of this story shouldn't really need to be stated, but here they are anyway.

  1. Don't smoke in a rental car.
  2. Don't smoke in an enclosed area filled with propane (or even an open area filled with propane).


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