What If I Wrecked a Rental Car?

What to do After an Accident in a Rental Car?

First and foremost, check on everyone involved in the accident. If there are any injuries, call 911 immediately. If injuries did not occur, pull your vehicle off the road to a safe location and exchange contact information with the other driver(s) involved. Then you should take pictures of any resulting damages to the vehicles.  If the police respond to the accident, you will need to file an official report. Next, you should inform your rental car company of the accident as soon as possible. You can call the rental company directly, or use the emergency number provided in the glove box. The rental company will then tell you how to proceed.

If you were at fault, you will be financially responsible for your rental, and any damages that occurred to the other parties. If you aren’t at fault, your rental company will work directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, the rental company may not wait for the declaration of fault to be determined. They may charge your credit card or bill you directly for damages. In this case, you’ll have to submit these bills to the at-fault’s insurance company for compensation. 

Regardless of fault,  you will need to contact your primary auto insurance company. When reporting your accident to your auto insurance company, discuss what coverages you have on your plan. Specifically, ask about collision, comprehensive, bodily injury, and liability coverage along with their limits. Inform your auto insurance company of any additional coverage you purchased through the rental car company. If you purchased extra insurance or a collision damage waiver, your accident will be handled differently. 

What If I Didn’t Purchase Extra Insurance?

 If you didn’t purchase extra insurance for your rental, your personal auto insurance company will be responsible to pay the rental company for the damaged car. However, your auto insurance will only cover rental cars if you have active coverage. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage can provide coverage for damages to a rental car. However, if you only have liability, you’ll be financially responsible for anything that isn’t covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance. Furthermore, if you have a deductible on your insurance policy, you must pay your deductible to the rental car company, as the company is entitled to have their car fixed as soon as possible. 

If rental coverage isn’t on your policy, you must pay rental expenses until the car finishes repairs. For example, if it takes four days for a mechanic to repair the rental car, you’ll receive charges for four days of rental fees. If you carry loss of use coverage in your policy, you will only pay the fees that your coverage doesn’t pay.

If You Purchased Extra Insurance

You must read the fine print on each policy if you decide to purchase extra insurance from either the rental company or your credit card company. Some rental car companies provide complete coverage in an accident as long as you pay the premium and deductible. Some companies even offer a collision damage waiver. This waiver releases you from financial responsibility for the car should an accident occur. However, even with this waiver, you must file a claim for medical bills through your own auto insurance. 

Who Pays for a Rental Car Accident? 

This depends solely on what type of insurance coverage you have. If injuries were involved in the accident, rental car insurance will not cover these costs. Therefore, medical treatment will go through your own insurance plan or the insurance plan of the at-fault driver.

If you purchase a collision damage waiver (CDW), you’re covered unless the accident resulted from reckless driving or a breach of the rental agreement. The waiver shifts most of the costs to repair or replace the vehicle to the rental company. However, this waiver does not cover liability for medical expenses or any personal property damaged in the accident.

Credit Card Coverage for Rentals 

Some credit cards offer car rental coverage. If yours does, you’ll have coverage as long as you use that credit card to pay for the rental. Credit card coverage usually results in a damage waiver and does not cover liability. 

Additional Charges

If you are at fault for the accident, you’ll face three types of charges beyond the accident damages. 

Loss of use fees: when a rental car gets put into repairs and is taken out of circulation, the company loses money. Rental companies charge between $20-40 per day per car. You’ll likely have to cover these daily fees for every day that lapses with the car in repairs. 

Diminution of value: whenever rental cars are damaged, even after repairs, they lose value. Rental companies may charge you a fee to compensate for the devaluation of their property. These fees vary wildly and depend upon the extent of damage to their vehicle. 

Administrative fees: these additional fees occur with the processing of your claim. These costs may range from $50-$150 and possibly more depending on the rental company. If you were not at-fault for this accident, the at-fault driver may pay these fees, if they refuse you can pursue compensation through a personal lawsuit.

Before You Rent a Vehicle

Make a note of emergency numbers and where to find accident/incident report forms. Check to see what auto insurance coverage(s) you have as these also apply to your rental; check with your credit card companies to see if they offer rental car coverage. 

When you get a rental car, the customer service representative will offer you additional coverage. These coverages include a collision damage waiver, liability coverage, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage. 

A collision damage waiver is an agreement that states that the car rental company will waive vehicle replacement or repair costs if the vehicle suffers damage. Collision damage waivers typically aren’t insurance coverages and are always optional. Collision and comprehensive coverage will cover any damages with rental vehicles.

Liability coverage pays for property damage and medical expenses incurred by other individuals involved in the car accident. 

Personal Accident Insurance: this insurance will pay for any injuries to the rental car driver and any passengers. Personal Accident Insurance may also cover ambulance expenses and even death benefits. If you have any personal injury protection coverage with your auto insurance policy, personal accident insurance will overlap with it. 

Personal effects coverage will pay for lost or damaged personal property inside of the rental vehicle. 

Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!

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