Insurance and Liability in a Rental Vehicle

by NPHM | November 18th, 2019

When you get in a car accident in a car you don’t own, the process for getting compensation can become very complicated, very fast. This is especially true when you get in an accident while driving a rental car, even when the accident was not your fault.

How Rental Car Accidents Differ

When you sign a rental car agreement, you take on responsibility for any damage to the car while it is in your possession. That is why it’s so important to always inspect your rental vehicle thoroughly to prove any damage existed prior to you leaving the rental car lot before accepting the vehicle. In a car accident caused by someone else, you are still responsible for the damage to the vehicle.

What does this mean for you? You will likely need to pay your insurance deductible to the rental company before insurance kicks in to cover the rest of the repairs. You may also be responsible for paying a rental fee for each day that the rental car is being repaired if you don’t have “loss of use” coverage in your insurance policy.

Be prepared to be charged for the cost of the damage upfront, as the rental company likely will not wait for insurance company to sort out who is responsible. You will likely need to get reimbursement from the insurance company later.

What to do Immediately After a Wreck in a Rental Car

While getting compensation can be a complex process after an accident in a rental car, the key steps to remember stay the same as for any other car accident:

  • Call 911 – this brings the police and medical personnel to the scene.
  • File a police report.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible after the accident to get evaluated if emergency medical attention isn’t needed.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and notify your own insurance company.
  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved. This will serve as evidence when you make a claim.

However, unlike in most auto accidents, there are two additional steps. First, you will need to call the rental agency to let them know what happened. Secondly, because there are many parties involved, we recommend calling a lawyer to help you sort out how to get the compensation you need.

Determine What Type(s) of Coverage You Have

There are three main sources of insurance coverage available for rental car accident claims.

  1. Your Personal Insurance: Ohio requires drivers to have both bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage. Your personal insurance should cover both damage to your rental vehicle and any injuries sustained, but always make sure to read up on the specifics of what your policy covers before renting a car.
  2. Insurance Provided by Your Credit Card: If you paid for your rental car with a credit card, you may be covered by insurance provided by that credit card specifically for rental cars. However, it only kicks in if you paid for the rental entirely on the card, and may only count as secondary insurance—meaning it covers only what your personal insurance does not.
  3. Supplementary Insurance Provided by the Rental Company: Car rental companies will also offer to sell you insurance to cover collisions and theft during your rental period.

Rental Car Supplemental Insurance – What Does It Cover?

Most rental insurance companies will offer to sell you collision insurance to cover the costs of damage to the rental vehicle, but there are four major types of supplemental insurance available.

  1. Collision Damage Waiver: This absolves the renter of responsibility for paying the cost of any damage to the rental vehicle, as well as if the vehicle is stolen during the rental period. Exceptions include if the renter was driving recklessly or if the accident happened while someone other than the renter was driving.
  2. Liability Coverage: This coverage will pay the other party’s medical and property damage costs if the renter was at fault for the accident.
  3. Personal Accident Insurance: This coverage will pay the medical bills of the renter and their passengers in an accident. This covers medical expenses of the renter and any of the renter’s passengers.
  4. Personal Effects Coverage: This coverage will pay replacement costs for personal items stolen from the rental car or damaged in an accident.

When the Other Driver Is In a Rental Car, Who Is Responsible?

If you were hit by someone driving a rental car, you will not be able to sue the rental company for your medical expenses or the damage to your car. Depending on what type of coverage the other driver has, and whether or not they purchased liability coverage from the rental company, you may need to file a claim against your own insurance policy to get compensation for your injuries.

Speak to a personal injury lawyer about your circumstances. Consultations at Nurenberg Paris are always free, and an experienced car accident attorney will be able to provide a clearer idea of who may be liable for your injuries in a collision involving a rental car.

Get Help Today

Our firm has helped many Ohioans get the help they need after injuries from car accidents over the years, and we want to help you, too. The last thing you need to deal with after a painful injury is trying to find out from multiple insurance companies when you will get your check. Let us handle the paperwork, and if you don’t get paid, you don’t pay us. Contact the car accident attorneys at Nurenberg Paris today.