When getting into a car accident — whether it was your fault or not — the last thing you want to think of is the process of obtaining a rental car, but fortunately it’s not as complicated as you may think.
Waiting for repairs or the check for a totaled car may take a while and if you’re like most people who rely on a car to get to work, bring the kids to school and live your everyday life, you’ll need a rental car as soon as possible. Below we’ve listed out how you can get a rental car from an insurance claim.
First things first, though, whose insurance is actually responsible for paying for the rental car?
Does my insurance cover it or the other driver’s insurance?
Typically, if you’re not at fault in an accident, the other driver’s insurance policy will cover the cost for you to obtain a rental car. If you’re the one who’s at fault in the accident, your insurance policy will only cover you if you purchased add-on coverage for rental cars.
This is often called something along the lines of rental reimbursement coverage or rental car coverage.
How do I get rental reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company?
An at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for the cost of a comparable rental car for you if your vehicle needs repairs. Comparable vehicle means a rental car with similar value to your vehicle that was damaged. For example, if you drove a Toyota Corolla, it’s unlikely that you would get a Porsche as your rental car.
If the at-fault driver’s insurer is taking a while to claim liability, you may want to consider going through your own insurance company or renting a car yourself. If you choose to do this, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will reimburse you once the claim has gone through.
Getting a rental car through your own insurance company
If you’re at fault in the accident, or if your vehicle was damaged from a non-collision accident and you need a rental car, typically your standard car insurance policy won’t cover it. The rental car fees would be covered through your insurance only if you have purchased the optional rental reimbursement coverage to your policy before the damage to your car occurred.
If you have rental reimbursement coverage and you’re at fault in an accident, you should contact your insurance agent and file a claim. They will most likely take control of the situation from there, providing you with a rental car as soon as possible.
Before you decide which rental car company to use, be sure to check with your agent or insurance company. Some insurance companies have preferred rental car companies and you may receive a discount for using that company.
Will my rental car cost be completely covered?
How much of the rental car cost is covered by your insurance will depend on your policy. If you have 25/500 coverage, it means you have up to $25 of coverage per day for up to $500 total — essentially 20 days of rental car coverage.
Make sure you know when the coverage kicks in and how long you’ll be covered. You’ll typically be covered up until your car is repaired, your policy limit is reached or a settlement for your totaled car is reached.
Renting a car out of pocket
Many drivers think that their insurance company will automatically cover the cost of a rental car if you’ve been in an accident you weren’t at fault for, but that’s not the case. If you’re found to be responsible for the crash or the fault hasn’t been determined and you don’t have rental car reimbursement coverage, then you’re obligated to pay for the rental car on your own.
If you’re eventually found not at fault, the opposing driver’s insurance company will reimburse you for the rental car.
How is fault determined?
Fault is determined by many factors, including eyewitnesses, both drivers, and a police report. Documenting the scene with pictures and recording what the witnesses say can also benefit you when insurance companies determine who is liable.
How long can I keep a rental car?
The company you’re renting the vehicle from will determine how long you can keep the rental car. You generally can only keep a rental car during the period your car is being repaired, or if it’s totaled, until you find a new car.
Documents needed to rent a car
You’re required to have proof of your full coverage insurance policy, a credit card, a valid driver’s license and you must be over the age of 25.
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