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Am I Covered in a Rental Car Accident?

Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Sep 03, 2019 in Car Accidents

Couple at rental car counterBefore you go on a vacation in a rental car, it is a good idea to make sure you have enough coverage in case you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. However, it can be confusing trying to figure out what exactly you need while you are in the process of renting a vehicle.  

Below, the experienced South Bend car accident lawyers at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak describe insurance coverage you may be able to use after a rental car accident.

Do I Need to Purchase Rental Car Coverage?

Whether or not you need rental car coverage may depend on the insurance that you already carry. Here are a couple of alternatives to purchasing pricey rental car insurance:

  • Auto insurance coverage – Check with your insurance provider to verify what they cover in a rental car accident and where this is stated in your policy. If you already have collision and comprehensive insurance, you do not need to duplicate your coverage. However, if you have a deductible on your car insurance, you will be required to pay that same deductible on the rental car after an accident.
  • Credit card – Some credit cards provide rental car insurance if you use their card to rent the vehicle. Check, or read the fine print, to see what this insurance does or does not cover.

Rental car insurance is your final option for ensuring that you are not responsible for the rental vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. While it is not cheap, it is better than being stuck with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses to repair a damaged rental vehicle if you have no other coverage.

Rental companies offer a damage waiver for a set fee per day, often called a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). However, this option will only cover property damage to the rental vehicle. It will not cover damage to the other party’s vehicle or any medical expenses. You should check to see whether the waiver also provides coverage for the rental company’s loss of use while the car is being repaired.

If you opt for purchasing rental car insurance, read the coverage options carefully to make sure you are not duplicating other coverages, such as accidental death or personal property insurance, if you already carry that protection elsewhere. Your medical insurance may kick in for medical costs you incur, regardless of which vehicle you drive.

In short, do your decision making before you go to rent a car. Most rental agencies have the details of their policies online, so you can do your research and make the most beneficial decision for your situation.

How do I Recover Damages in a Rental Car Accident?

Every claim is different because every accident is unique. If it is a minor, single car accident, you may be able to simply call the rental car company. There is typically an emergency number posted on the windshield of the rental vehicle for quick access. Carrying a car crash checklist to refer to may also be useful after an accident.

There are rare circumstances when the rental car company may be liable. For instance, if there was a known recall or other mechanical problem, such as failed brakes, that the rental company neglected to repair, and that issue contributed to the accident.

What if the At-Fault Party is Uninsured?

Indiana law requires all drivers to maintain minimum liability car insurance unless they submit a request in writing to decline that coverage.

Unfortunately, some drivers do not submit a request, they just decide to go without coverage. This is why Indiana requires drivers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. It is a good idea to review your policy to determine how much of this coverage you have. You may want to purchase more than the minimum, as damages from a car accident can quickly become very expensive.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

If you were injured in an accident while you were driving a rental car, you may need the assistance of our experienced South Bend personal injury legal team at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak.

We welcome the opportunity to review the details of your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation. Since we operate on a contingency basis, there are no upfront fees or out-of-pocket expenses if we represent you. We do not get paid unless we are successful in obtaining compensation on your behalf.

Call us today at (844) 678-1800.