What I learned from a Car Rental Agency

I’ve had a car rental business on Aruba for three years, says a reader, and today for the first time, we suffered an accident with an uninsured vehicle, resulting in big financial damage.

The uninsured driver was the one who caused the accident, so we called 165 to report it, and they came quickly, then we realized the culprit had no insurance.

And the old number plates were still on the car, attesting to an unpaid road tax.

The 165 agents told us we had to call the police, and so we did, but the lady on the phone responded they couldn’t come because driving without proper insurance, is not a crime on Aruba, there is no law against it, and they simply couldn’t help us, we needed to start a civil case and hire a lawyer.

Luckily, a police car drove by and stopped to look/see the mess. I spoke to the officer and he confirmed they have their instructions, NOT to give offenders any fines because it will not stick in court, the insurance companies here aren’t obliged to cooperate.

The world works upside down on the island: Motorists take out insurance for one day, retrieve their plates, cancel the insurance, then drive around for years with old plates, and nothing? If you can’t pay for plates and/or insurance, don’t worry, be happy, just hit the road and if an accident occurs, don’t worry, be happy, stick the victim with the bill.

Another worrisome issue: The illegal car rentals.

A legal agency requires V -plates on its cars, at a hefty price for permits, each year, and daily taxes collected from visitors. The legal agencies are also obligated to buy new cars every 5 years, and must take the old vehicles out of rental circulation.

But at this moment there are DOZENS of addresses on Aruba, renting cars illegally to locals and tourists, exempt from daily taxes and permit fees.

Even some legal car rentals rent out their old vehicles, which they now hang with A- plates, and use them for long-term rentals, cutting the government out.

Take a look at vraag en aanbod, brisk business conducted there, A- plate cars for rent at a super reasonable rate, RHD too.  

They also sometimes call it leasing, for longer periods of time, but is it legal?

Where are the insurance companies, shouldn’t they care? And shouldn’t the government protect its law abiding, tax paying citizens from fraudulent activity?

More examples of the madness:

Legal car agencies must pick up clients at the airport with O-plates, while with illegal rentals, any old car would do.

And the legal agency must comply with DTI inspections every year, while illegal, every two years, if at all.

When asked, DTP responds it only concerns itself with LEGAL agencies and any complaints about the ILLEGAL ones should be addressed to the police.  

It gets harder and harder for legal car agencies to make a living with such rampant and shameless competition, protected by the lack of law on one hand and apathy on the other.

No one seems to be willing to take on that illegal car rental activity. So it flourishes, unchecked.

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November 11, 2020
Rona Coster