Insurance and Liability in a Rental Car

by Staff | November 18th, 2019

People rent cars, vans, and trucks for a variety of reasons, whether traveling for business or vacation, or simply because their personal vehicle is unavailable or unsuitable for any reason. However, traffic accidents happen everywhere and every day, and some of those accidents involve rental vehicles. When you get into an accident in a car you don’t own, the process for getting compensation and determining who is responsible  becomes a lot more complicated.

How Rental Car Accidents are Unique

The at-fault party in an accident will have liability for injuries and medical expenses, but when you rent a car, you take on all responsibility for any damage to the vehicle. Therefore, it’s always important to inspect the vehicle thoroughly before leaving the rental company’s property — you will be responsible for paying to repair any damage that isn’t confirmed to be pre-existing. This holds true in collisions caused by other drivers.

While insurance may cover property damage to the rental vehicle, you will likely still need to pay your insurance deductible directly to the rental company before insurance kicks in for the rest. You may even be charged the total sum of the damage costs and need to go to the insurance company to get reimbursed.

Finally, unless your insurance policy includes “loss of use” coverage, you will need to pay the rental company for its lost revenue while the rental vehicle is being repaired.

The Most Important Steps to Take After an Accident in a Rental Car

When it comes to improving your chances of getting compensation for your injuries after an accident in a rental car, you will need to follow many of the same steps as you would if you were driving your own car, with one extra step at the end:

  • Contact the police and file a report.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident and of both vehicles.
  • Exchange information with the other driver.
  • Notify your insurance provider.
  • Notify your rental car company.

Because there may be multiple sources of insurance involved, it may also be helpful to contact a lawyer to help you complete the paperwork necessary to properly process your claim.

What Type of Coverage Do You Have?

There are three major sources of insurance coverage available for anyone submitting a claim after a rental car accident:

  1. Personal Car Insurance: Nearly every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry auto insurance in order to legally operate a vehicle, including personal injury liability coverage. However, make sure to read the fine print, as your personal insurance may not cover damage to specific types of rental cars, such as exotic cars or trucks.
  2. Credit Card Rental Car Insurance: If you completed your rental car payment using a credit card, you may have collision insurance available through your credit card provider. However, this is typically secondary insurance and only pays out after your personal insurance, although it may cover your auto insurance deductible.
  3. Supplementary Rental Car Insurance Provided: When you rent a car, the rental company will offer for purchase supplementary insurance to cover medical expenses and property damage in traffic accidents.

What Type of Coverage is Available from the Rental Company?

The type of coverage available may differ depending on what company you rent from. However, there are four major types of supplementary insurance available from rental car companies:

  1. Collision Damage Waiver, for damage or theft of the rental car.
  2. Liability Coverage, for medical expenses and collision repair expenses of the other party, if the renter is at fault.
  3. Personal Accident Insurance, for medical expenses of the renter and his or her passengers
  4. Personal Effects Coverage, for personal property of the renter that is damaged in an accident or stolen from the vehicle.

Can I Sue the Rental Company if I am Hit by a Rental Car?

Federal law protects rental car companies from liability in car accidents caused by their vehicles, unless the victim can prove that the rental car company was negligent 1.) in putting the car on the road, such as if it was under recall, or 2.) if they were negligent in renting to the driver, such as if the driver did not have a valid license.

Typically, you will need to seek compensation from the other driver’s personal insurance, or if they do not have any or enough coverage, sue your own insurance for compensation through your uninsured driver policy.

Call Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin Injury Lawyers Today

If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a rental car, the last thing you need is to worry about where the compensation for your medical expenses will be coming from. Let our experienced Indiana car accident lawyers take your case so you can focus on recovery. Contact our firm today for a free case review.

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