B-207523.OM, JUN 23, 1982

B-207523.OM: Jun 23, 1982

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BECAUSE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT REIMBURSE COST OF INSURANCE. VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED IN ACCIDENT. RENTAL COMPANY WAS PAID OUT-OF-POCKET BY EMPLOYEE. BEACH IS A GAO EMPLOYEE ASSIGNED TO THE ATLANTA REGIONAL OFFICE. THE CLAIM IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF $37.75 OUT-OF- POCKET EXPENSES PAID TO HOLIDAY RENT-A-CAR SYSTEM FOR DAMAGE TO A RENTAL VEHICLE INCURRED ON MARCH 19 TO MARCH 21. WHILE HE WAS ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL. BEACH IS ENTITLED TO THE REIMBURSEMENT CLAIM. BEACH AND AN INTERNAL MEMORANDUM SETTING FORTH THE BASIS FOR PAYMENT ARE ATTACHED FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND FILE. ATTACHMENTS WE HAVE CONSIDERED YOUR CLAIM IN THE AMOUNT OF $37.75 FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES PAID TO HOLIDAY RENT-A-CAR SYSTEM FOR DAMAGES TO A RENTAL VEHICLE INCURRED BETWEEN THE DATES OF MARCH 19 TO MARCH 21.

B-207523.OM, JUN 23, 1982

SUBJECT: CLAIM OF JESSE L. BEACH - B-207523-O.M. DIGEST: GAO EMPLOYEE ASSIGNED TO ATLANTA REGIONAL OFFICE RENTED COMMERCIAL VEHICLE AS AUTHORIZED IN TRAVEL ORDER. RENTAL CONTRACT PROVIDED FOR MAXIMUM LIABILITY OF $500 UNLESS RENTER PURCHASED ADDITIONAL INSURANCE. BECAUSE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT REIMBURSE COST OF INSURANCE, EMPLOYEE PROPERLY DID NOT PURCHASE IT. VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED IN ACCIDENT. RENTAL COMPANY WAS PAID OUT-OF-POCKET BY EMPLOYEE, AND EMPLOYEE SEEKS REIMBURSEMENT. ALTHOUGH TECHNICALLY NOT A PARTY TO THE RENTAL CONTRACT, GOVERNMENT PAYS SUCH CLAIMS AS MATTER OF POLICY UP TO AMOUNT SPECIFIED IN CONTRACT. THEREFORE, REIMBURSEMENT TO EMPLOYEE MAY BE ALLOWED.

ASSISTANT CHIEF, FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT BRANCH, OFM - MS. JUDITH CZARSTY:

A CLAIM HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM MR. JESSE L. BEACH, 3457 LARCH PINE DRIVE, DULUTH, GEORGIA, 30136. MR. BEACH IS A GAO EMPLOYEE ASSIGNED TO THE ATLANTA REGIONAL OFFICE. THE CLAIM IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF $37.75 OUT-OF- POCKET EXPENSES PAID TO HOLIDAY RENT-A-CAR SYSTEM FOR DAMAGE TO A RENTAL VEHICLE INCURRED ON MARCH 19 TO MARCH 21, 1982, IN TAMPA, FLORIDA, WHILE HE WAS ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL. IN ACCORDANCE WITH AUTHORIZED PROCEDURES, MR. BEACH DID NOT OBTAIN FULL COLLISION INSURANCE COVERAGE AT THE TIME OF RENTAL, AND THE RENTAL AGREEMENT PROVIDES THAT THE RENTER SHALL BE LIABLE UP TO THE FIRST $500 OF COLLISION DAMAGES IN SUCH CASE. MR. BEACH PAID THE RENTAL COMPANY AND NOW SEEKS REIMBURSEMENT.

AN EXAMINATION OF THE EVIDENCE OF RECORD IN THIS CASE INDICATES THAT MR. BEACH IS ENTITLED TO THE REIMBURSEMENT CLAIM. A CHECK IN THE AMOUNT OF $37.75 SHOULD BE PREPARED AND SENT TO MR. BEACH AT THE ADDRESS SHOWN IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH.

COPIES OF OUR LETTER OF TODAY TO MR. BEACH AND AN INTERNAL MEMORANDUM SETTING FORTH THE BASIS FOR PAYMENT ARE ATTACHED FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND FILE.

ATTACHMENTS

WE HAVE CONSIDERED YOUR CLAIM IN THE AMOUNT OF $37.75 FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES PAID TO HOLIDAY RENT-A-CAR SYSTEM FOR DAMAGES TO A RENTAL VEHICLE INCURRED BETWEEN THE DATES OF MARCH 19 TO MARCH 21, 1982, IN TAMPA, FLORIDA, WHILE YOU WERE ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL. UNDER THE RENTAL CONTRACT, YOU WERE LIABLE FOR DAMAGE NOT TO EXCEED $500 UNLESS YOU PURCHASED ADDITIONAL INSURANCE COVERAGE. SINCE THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT HAVE REIMBURSED YOU FOR THIS ADDITIONAL INSURANCE, YOU PROPERLY DECLINED TO PURCHASE IT. THEREFORE, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE ARE ALLOWING YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $37.75. A CHECK IN THAT AMOUNT WILL BE ISSUED AND MAILED TO YOU SHORTLY.

ATTACHMENT

THE ATTACHED CLAIM IS NOT A CLAIM UNDER THE FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT. INSTEAD, IT IS ONE IN CONTRACT FILED BY MR. JESSE L. BEACH, AN EMPLOYEE OF GAO-ATLANTA REGIONAL OFFICE. THE CLAIM IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF MONEY PAID TO HOLIDAY RENT-A-CAR SYSTEM FOR DAMAGE TO A RENTAL VEHICLE WHICH OCCURRED DURING THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 19 TO MARCH 21, 1982. WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS PARKED AT THE TAMPA AIRPORT, SOMEONE APPARENTLY BACKED INTO IT AND BROKE THE RIGHT REAR TAIL LIGHT. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED WHILE MR. BEACH WAS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT.

PARAGRAPH 1-3.2(C) OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FTR) (FPMR 101 7, MAY, 1973) STATES AS FOLLOWS:

"(C) DAMAGE WAIVER OR INSURANCE COST. CONNECTION WITH RENTAL OF VEHICLES FROM COMMERCIAL SOURCES, THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT PAY OR REIMBURSE EMPLOYEES FOR THE COST OF THE COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER OR COLLISION DAMAGE INSURANCE AVAILABLE IN COMMERCIAL RENTAL CONTRACTS FOR AN EXTRA FEE. THE WAIVER OR INSURANCE REFERRED TO IS THE TYPE OFFERED A RENTER TO RELEASE HIM FROM LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE TO THE AMOUNT DEDUCTIBLE (USUALLY $100) ON THE INSURANCE INCLUDED AS A PART OF THE RENTAL CONTRACT WITHOUT ADDITIONAL CHARGE. UNDER DECISIONS OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, THE AGENCY IN APPROPRIATE CIRCUMSTANCES IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY FOR DAMAGE TO THE RENTED VEHICLE UP TO THE DEDUCTIBLE AMOUNT AS CONTAINED IN THE RENTAL CONTRACT SHOULD THE RENTED VEHICLE BE DAMAGED WHILE USED FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THE COST OF PERSONAL ACCIDENT INSURANCE IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE AND IS NOT REIMBURSABLE."

THE RENTAL CONTRACT BETWEEN HOLIDAY RENT-A-CAR SYSTEM AND MR. BEACH PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"RENTER REFUSES THE COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER AND ACCEPTS FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL DAMAGE TO THE RENTED VEHICLE UP TO $ 500 * PER OCCURRENCE * FULL AMOUNT OF DAMAGES IF CONTRACT IS VIOLATED."

MR. BEACH INITIALED THIS BLOCK, DECLINING THE ADDITIONAL INSURANCE.

IT IS CUSTOMARY FOR GAO TO ADVISE ITS EMPLOYEES, WHEN RENTING COMMERCIAL VEHICLES ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, THAT GAO WILL NOT REIMBURSE THEM IF THEY VOLUNTARILY PAY THE ADDITIONAL PREMIUM FOR COLLISION INSURANCE OFFERED BY THE CAR RENTAL COMPANIES. IN THIS CASE, MR. BEACH, UNDER CURRENT AUTHORIZED PROCEDURES, PROPERLY DECLINED TO PURCHASE IN ADVANCE THE FULL COLLISION DAMAGE COVERAGE, SINCE IT WAS NOT A CONDITION REQUIRED FOR THE RENTAL OF THE VEHICLE. HENCE, UNDER THE TERMS OF THE RENTAL CONTRACT, HE WAS LIABLE UP TO THE FIRST $500 OF COLLISION DAMAGE. HE PAID THE $37.75 DIRECTLY TO HOLIDAY.

TECHNICALLY, THE RENTAL AGREEMENT IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE RENTAL COMPANY AND THE EMPLOYEE AND THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT A PARTY. HOWEVER, AS A MATTER OF POLICY, WE PAY CLAIMS UP TO THE LIMIT SPECIFIED IN THE CONTRACT. SINCE THE CLAIM IS NOT A TORT CLAIM BUT RATHER IS A CLAIM UNDER THE CONTRACT, WE PAY WITHOUT REGARD TO THE EMPLOYEE'S NEGLIGENCE, AS LONG AS THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED IN THE "SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT."

THE DAMAGE IN THIS CASE RESULTED FROM A HIT-AND-RUN COLLISION WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS PARKED AT THE TAMPA AIRPORT. MR. BEACH HAD LEFT THE VEHICLE AT THE AIRPORT DURING A WEEKEND RETURN HOME. (WEEKEND RETURN WAS EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZED ON MR. BEACH'S TRAVEL ORDER.) HE JUSTIFIED LEAVING THE VEHICLE AT THE AIRPORT BECAUSE HE COULD NOT RETURN IT TO THE RENTAL COMPANY AND BE ASSURED OF GETTING ANOTHER VEHICLE WHEN HE RETURNED. THIS STRIKES US AS SUFFICIENT TO REMAIN WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF "SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT."

THESE CLAIMS ARE NORMALLY MADE IN ONE OF TWO FORMS. MR. BEACH'S CLAIM IS THE TECHNICALLY "CORRECT" FORM. SINCE HE WAS LIABLE UNDER THE CONTRACT, HE PAID THE RENTAL COMPANY AND THEN FILED A CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT. OCCASIONALLY, SOME OF THE LARGER RENTAL COMPANIES, KNOWING THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL PAY (OR PERHAPS NOT KNOWING), DO NOT ATTEMPT TO COLLECT FROM THE INDIVIDUAL BUT FILE A CLAIM DIRECTLY WITH THE GOVERNMENT. EITHER WAY, WE PAY AS A MATTER OF POLICY, AS NOTED ABOVE, ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO "PRIVITY" IN THE LATTER SITUATION. SEE, E.G., B-193524, JANUARY 17, 1979 (CLAIM BY AVIS).

IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR USUAL PROCEDURES, A BRIEF LETTER TO MR. BEACH AND A MEMORANDUM TO THE OFFICE OF FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, OUTLINING THE PROPOSED DISPOSITION OF THE CLAIM, HAVE BEEN PREPARED FOR SIGNATURE BY THE ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL, AND ARE ATTACHED.