What to Do About Rental Cars and Auto Insurance

Metzger Wickersham

When you need to rent a car for business, vacationing, or any other reason, you are going to be offered a “special” insurance policy by the rental car company. Even if you tell the clerk that you do not want any insurance, they will inevitably offer it once or twice. If they are so insistent about getting you to buy it, does that mean you need to buy this added insurance? Or will you be covered by another insurance policy if you get into a car accident while driving the rental?

The truth that many rental car companies do not want you to know is that you might already have adequate coverage through the auto insurance you purchase for your own vehicle. But do not just assume you have coverage. There are steps you can take to make certain you will be in the best situation, just in case of a crash.

Review Your Policy First

Before you even talk to a representative from the car rental company, you should talk with your own automobile insurance carrier first. Ask if your insurance policy provides coverage for vehicles that you rent. Smartphone apps provided by your insurance carrier may be available for your use.

You might be surprised to find that you do have some type of coverage for rental cars, which can be part of a standard plan or purchased at a low monthly premium. The details of that coverage matters, though. Some policies are voided if you rent a certain type of vehicle. For example, your rental car coverage might not apply for luxury sports cars or for vehicles you intend to drive off-road. There could also be a gap in coverage if you rent a vehicle that is already in a damaged condition, which a car rental company might offer at a discount.

If you do have collision and comprehensive coverage for rental cars, though, your personal insurance should cover any damage to the rental car. Keep in mind that the same deductibles would still apply, meaning you may need to pay some repair costs out of your own pocket.

Check the Rental Company’s Policy

If you do not have any current auto insurance policy that will provide for rental car damages, then you will probably want to buy a policy from the rental company. Even if you do have coverage, it might be worth reviewing the company’s optional policy anyway. There are sometimes added coverage benefits that you can enjoy for a relatively low cost.

Although, car rental companies usually only offer the state minimum coverage, which will be the same as or lower than any policy provided by your personal insurer. It is somewhat rare to find a rental company policy with better coverage at an agreeable price. Another factor to consider is whether you are renting the car for business or leisure. What you tell the clerk could change the insurance policy coverage or the price that you are offered.

Finally, it is important to make sure that every person who will be driving the vehicle is covered under an insurance policy. It is quite possible that your policy only covers you, so buying one offered by the rental car company could become necessary. The last thing you want is to get into a crash while on vacation and find out you were not covered, so be thorough with your insurance inquiries before you put the keys in the ignition!

Rental Insurance or Not, Hire a Lawyer

If you get into a car accident with the rental car and your injuries are serious, then you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in damages that the insurance company is not going to want to pay. Whether your rental car was covered by your insurance or the rental company’s policy, there is one thing that remains true: hiring an attorney is a good idea. Liability will be pinned on you if the insurer can get away with it, but a car accident lawyer can intervene and make certain the case progresses fairly.

Some insurance companies also try to complicate rental car claims because they know most drivers are unfamiliar with the rules regarding rental insurance. With a lawyer managing your claim, you do not need to worry about any tactics that otherwise could have confused you and swindled you out of a fair recovery.

If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, we can help. Contact Metzger Wickersham today to request a free and confidential consultation.

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