Protect yourself while TDY: Follow these rental car steps Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 December 2017
By Capt. Jacob Shaffer
Special to GUIDON

Over the past several months, there has been a noticeable uptick in claims, both at Fort Leonard Wood as well as across the Army, related to accidents involving vehicles rented while a service member was on authorized government travel.

In many cases, service members who rented a vehicle for authorized government travel and were involved in an accident with that vehicle were held personally liable for the damage or injury caused.

This can be avoided if service members follow the applicable regulations for renting a vehicle. By complying with the guidance set forth in the U.S. Government Rental Car and Truck Program, a service member can take advantage of many rental benefits and protections.

Service members can be protected from liability for any accidents while traveling pursuant to temporary duty orders or otherwise. In order to receive the protections offered by the U.S. Government Rental Car and Truck Program when renting, follow these steps:



— Book the government rate. Pay close attention to the authorized government rate for your rental vehicle. Reserve a rental vehicle at a cost no greater than the government rate. Make your reservation through the Defense Travel System, E-Gov Travel Service, a government-contracted Commercial Travel Office or Travel Management Center and ensure the correct rate at pick up. If you need assistance, ask the DTS administrator in your office to assist you.



— Present proof of official travel status to the rental car company. Be prepared to present travel authorization/orders or a Government Travel Charge Card when you pick up the vehicle. It is recommended that a service member book their travel with the GTCC to have access to additional insurance protections through VISA.



— Look for GARS. The “Government Administrative Rate Supplement” or “GARS,” is a $5 per day fee. Make sure you see this fee on your rental contract at the time of pick-up. This ensures that you are renting through the program and are eligible for program benefits.

Lastly, be aware that the Joint Travel Regulations cap reimbursement at the cost to the U.S. Government had the car been rented properly. Thus, if a traveler tries to use a personal credit card or other promotional rate and incurs damage that would have been covered under the Rental Car and Truck Program, the traveler may be responsible for the damage if the total damage and the rental rate paid exceeds the Rental Car and Truck Program allowance.

For a more detailed overview of the benefits and protections available through the U.S. Government Rental Car and Truck Program, visit www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/rental.cfm.

This article provides information that is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific legal advice for your particular situation. If you have any questions, you can visit the Claims Office at 316 Missouri Ave. (Building 315) or call 573.596.0627.

(Editor's note: Shaffer is a Legal Assistance Attorney for the installation Staff Judge Advocate's Office.)