What Happens After an Accident in a Rental Car

November 18th, 2019

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, wanting to impress, or to test out a new car before making a purchase, people all across Louisiana rent cars for many reasons. But there are few situations more nerve-wracking than being involved in a car accident in a rental car, especially when it wasn’t your fault. And unfortunately, getting compensation after an accident in a rental car can be far more complicated than in a car you own.

What Makes Rental Car Accidents Different?

In any collision, the at-fault party should have a liability policy which provides coverage for injuries caused by the accident. However, the rental agreement you signed means you are still responsible for any and all damage to the rental vehicle while it’s in your care, even if the damage was not your fault.

What does this mean? You will likely be required to pay your insurance deductible directly to the rental company, and you may even be charged for the cost of damage and be required to seek reimbursement from the insurance company afterward.

Furthermore, you will likely need to pay “loss of use” fees to cover the rental company’s loss of profit while the rental vehicle is being repaired. Your insurance may include loss of use coverage, but if the policy limits are below the rental vehicle’s going rate, you will be required to make up the difference.

What To Do Immediately After an Accident in a Rental Car

The first steps to take after any accident in a rental car remain the same as in any car accident:

  1. Call emergency services, if immediate medical attention is needed, or see a doctor as soon as convenient if immediate attention is not.
  2. Call the police and file a report from the scene.
  3. Exchange contact information with the other driver.
  4. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, and the scene of the accident.
  5. Notify your insurance provider.

However, there are two additional steps to take care of in a rental accident. First, notify your rental company. Secondly, because you may need to seek compensation for your expenses from multiple insurance companies, we suggest hiring a lawyer to help you file the paperwork and negotiate on your behalf if you’ve been injured.

The Three Potential Sources of Compensation

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

  1. Your Personal Insurance: Louisiana requires auto insurance to operate a motor vehicle. This includes bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability, medical payments, and uninsured motorist bodily injury. Your personal insurance will usually also cover injuries and damage caused in a collision in or with a rental car. 
  2. Insurance Provided by Your Credit Card: Some credit cards provide car insurance for rental cars if you make the entire payment for the rental on the card. However, speak with your credit card representative to learn the terms of this insurance. It usually only covers collision damage, not injuries, and may only kick in after the policy limits of your personal insurance.
  3. Supplementary Insurance Provided by the Rental Company: The rental company offers supplementary insurance as well. This is typically collision insurance, but other types of insurance are usually also available for purchase.

The Four Types of Rental Coverage

Most major car rental companies will offer these four types of coverage for purchase when you rent a car:

  1. Collision Damage Waiver: This covers any damage to the rental car, as well as theft of the rental car. 
  2. Liability Coverage: When the renter is at fault for the collision, this covers collision damage and injuries sustained by the other party.
  3. Personal Accident Insurance: This covers medical expenses of the renter and any of the renter’s passengers.
  4. Personal Effects Coverage: This covers lost or damaged personal property kept in the rental vehicle.

What if I Was Hit By Someone Driving a Rental Car?  

Federal law protects rental companies from liability when someone is injured in an accident involving a rental car, unless the victim can prove the rental company was negligent in putting the car on the road or in renting to the at-fault driver. In most cases, if the other driver does not have liability insurance, you may need to seek compensation from your own insurance company to cover your medical expenses.

Contact the Car Accident Attorneys at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers

If you’ve been in a car accident and don’t know how to get compensation for your expenses, we want to help. Our team of experienced Louisiana car accident lawyers is skilled at negotiating with the insurance company to get you compensation for your injuries and lost wages after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.