What Happens If I Crash a Rental Car?

August 14, 2017

Getting in a car accident in your personal vehicle is stressful enough. If the car you’re driving is a rental, however, you have a list of other factors to consider during damage recovery. Supplemental rental insurance, your personal car insurance, credit card coverage for accidents – there are myriad solutions that could help in your situation. Knowing what to do after crashing a rental car can greatly improve your claims experience. It can also lead to better decision-making during your next vehicle rental.

Supplemental Rental Insurance

Rental car companies will always offer supplemental insurance coverage for an additional fee. Accepting this coverage will automatically waive a portion or all the driver’s obligation to pay for damages in the event of an accident. Coverage from the rental company will vary depending on the language of the policy. Always read the policy carefully before getting behind the wheel of your rental car. You should know when the insurance policy will cover damages, caps on coverage, and how much your insurance may need to pay after a collision. Ask the rental car employee for these details before agreeing to pay the extra fee for supplemental insurance.

Credit Card Insurance Policies

Major credit card companies now offer optional policies that cover collisions and even theft protection if the customer uses the credit card as payment for the rental car. American Express and Chase both offer credit card insurance on rentals in the form of Collision Damage Waivers. Credit card holders should pay attention to the fine print on these credit card policies. In many cases, the policy will only cover damage to the rental car – not damages to other vehicles or personal injuries.
Some policies will only offer coverage if the customer uses the credit card for the full amount of the rental car. Others have vehicle exclusions for luxury cars, vans, and SUVs. Find a card company that provides primary coverage if you wish to avoid dealing with your own vehicle insurance company for recovery. Speak with your credit card company for more details about your specific rental insurance policy and its terms.

Your Personal Vehicle Insurance

The third potential outlet for rental car damage recovery is your personal vehicle insurance company. If you declined supplemental rental insurance and didn’t use a credit card with rental insurance, your own insurer might be your only possible solution if you caused the accident. Unfortunately, personal policies don’t always cover damage to rental cars. Check with your policy to see if your comprehensive and collision damage pays for rental car collisions. If your insurance does cover at-fault damages, you may or may not have out-of-pocket costs depending on the cost of repairs and what your policy covers.

The Other Driver’s Insurance Company

In the event you were not at fault for the collision, the other driver may be liable for paying the rental car damages. File a claim through the other driver’s insurance company or consider a personal injury claim if the other driver’s insurer denies your claim or won’t offer an acceptable amount. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your options after a crash in a rental car in California.