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At fault insurance paying for rental car

Before starting your road trip, DISB offers some things to remember about car insurance and rental cars before for your summer road trip.

Before Leaving on Vacation

Make sure your insurance identification card is in the car. Double-check that phone numbers for your insurance company and agent are listed on the identification card. If not, make note of these numbers to keep with your ID card and bring it with you.

If You’re In an Accident

  • Remain calm.
  • Check for any injuries and administer first aid, if necessary.
  • Contact the proper authorities and inform them of any injuries. Regardless of the circumstances, report the accident to the police.
  • Record the name, address and phone number of the other driver. Always write down the make, model and license plate number of all vehicles involved.
  • Collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of all passengers and witnesses.
  • Take photos of the accident scene, if possible.
  • Do not admit fault.
  • Ask the investigating officer how to obtain a copy of the police report.
  • Notify your insurance agent or company immediately.

What to Expect After the Accident

Rental Cars

If your car was damaged due to another driver’s negligence, the other driver’s insurance company should pay your rental car costs for a reasonable length of repair time. If your car is totaled, many companies will pay for your rental as a courtesy, but they are not required to do so.

If you are filing a claim with your own insurance company, the cost of a rental car will only be covered if you paid a premium to include rental reimbursement coverage in your policy. Most polices have a dollar limit for rental payments, so check your policy.

Things to Consider about Insurance Renting a Car

Car rental companies offer several different insurance options that your existing policy may already cover. They typically offer the following products at the counter:

Collision Damage Waiver is also referred to as a Loss Damage Waiver. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, you will likely not need this additional protection. (Comprehensive insurance covers vehicular damages caused by accidents such as fire, theft, wind, hail or a run-in with a deer, vandalism, or theft. Collision insurance covers the cost of repairs or the actual cash value of the vehicle, if damaged in a crash or rollover.) This protection can cost an extra $10-$20 a day.

Liability Insurance covers medical expenses and damages to another person’s property as a result of a car accident caused by the insured’s negligence. If you are adequately insured on your own car, you may consider forgoing this additional liability protection. This supplemental insurance can cost $7-$14 a day.

Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to the renter and passengers for medical bills resulting from a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance and disability income insurance, or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you will likely not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1-$5 a day.

Personal Effects Coverage provides for the theft of personal items inside the rental car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, it generally covers this already. If you frequently travel with expensive jewelry or sports equipment, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a floater under your home or renters insurance policies so the items are fully protected when you travel. Generally, this coverage costs $2-$5 a day.

More Car Rental Insurance Tips:

  • If your current policy doesn’t offer coverage for a rental car, see if an insurance rider can be added for a small fee.
  • If you lack personal auto insurance and your credit card does not provide benefits, it might be wise to purchase the liability insurance and collision damage waiver at the car rental counter.
  • Keep in mind that if it is a longer-term rental (e.g., a week, a month or more), there might be limitations on the coverage your existing auto insurance policy provides. Check with your insurance company or agent for details.
  • If you don’t own a car, you might want to consider purchasing a non-owner auto insurance policy, because it provides benefits in addition to coverage for a rental car.
  • Carefully review your auto insurance policy and check with your credit card issuer about auto insurance benefits. Many credit cards include some level of collision and theft protection. In most cases, these benefits are secondary to your personal auto insurance or the car rental company’s insurance, meaning the credit card company will only pay claims after other insurance coverage has been exhausted.

Uninsured Drivers

If an uninsured driver caused the accident, then your insurance company will pay for damage to your vehicle if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage. If your damage is repaired under your collision coverage — be aware you will still have to pay a deductible.


Even if your claims adjuster recommends a specific body shop, you may choose to have your car repaired at the body shop of your choice. To avoid confusion, notify the claims adjuster about your repair shop before any of the work is done.

If Your Car Is a Total Loss

If the damage is extensive, and the claims adjuster determines the cost to repair your car is greater than the value of your car, the insurance company might choose to declare your car a total loss. When this happens, your insurance company has the option to take the title for your vehicle when it issues payment on your claim.

The insurance company will use the Kelley Blue Book to value the car. The insurance company is required to pay what your vehicle was actually worth at the moment before the crash. The claims adjuster will check to see what a car like yours (same make, model and year) is worth in your general geographic area. It is also a good idea for you to independently research the value of your car before agreeing to a settlement with the insurance company.

Ramifications of Filing a Claim

An accident filed with your insurance company might cause your rates to rise. Premium increases are more likely when the accident is your fault; however, an insurance company might also raise your premiums if you have more than one not-at-fault accident within a policy period. If you have questions about a rate increase following a claim or you are involved in a claim-settlement dispute with your insurer, contact DISB at (202) 727-8000 or [email protected] to file a complaint.

More Information

Call DISB at (202) 727-8000 or email us at [email protected] if you have any questions about information on this page.


One of the most difficult issues many injury victims must deal when involved in a car accident is getting a rental car from the insurance company. While waiting to get a check for your totaled car, you still need to get to work if you are able, and you still need to get your kids to school. Obviously, these concerns are more pronounced in one car families.

Online classic car insurance quote

The rental vehicle provided should be comparable to the vehicle damaged in the accident. If you were driving a pickup truck, it is not reasonable for your replacement vehicle to be a subcompact.

Getting a rental car after an accident can be a battle. Unless you have suffered injuries, getting a lawyer -- particularly a suitable one -- can be a challenge. This article lays out the best path to helping you get a rental car when the insurance company is trying to deny you the vehicle you are entitled to have. You can get more information on fighting property damage claims here.

The Easy Road: Insurance Company Take Immediate Responsibility

Hopefully, this process goes smoothly for you. The simplest path is when the at-fault driver’s insurance company agrees to immediately - with immediately being the operative word - accept liability for the traffic collision. In this case, the insurance carrier will pay until for your rental car until they pay you the fair market value of your totaled car or pay for the complete repairs of your car.

Plan B: You Have Your Own Rental Coverage Insurance

More problematic is when the at-fault insurance company makes no decision at all. This state of limbo puts the victim in a pickle. Insurance companies usually make no decision when they are not able to reach their driver to obtain their version of the crash. In this case, Plan B is to find out if you have rental coverage through your own insurance company. If you do, they will pay for your rental car while your property damage issues get resolved. Your insurance company will, in turn, fight the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get compensated for the money they paid for your rental car once we get resolved the responsibility for the motor vehicle crash.

The More Difficult Road: Insurance Company Makes No DecisionTips on Each Insurance Company
  • Allstate
  • State Farm
  • More insurance companies

The most problematic issue facing car accident victims seeking a rental car is if the at-fault carrier either denies responsibility or is withholding a decision during the period you need a rental car. The at-fault carrier is responsible for paying for a rental car for the time that you reasonably need a car. If they either later agree they are responsible or are found to be responsible, then they are obligated to pay you for the money you spend on a rental car. But you have to front the money to pay for the rental vehicle.

In the economy we are facing in 2017, not everyone can avoid doing that. So you are assuming a risk that liability will eventually be resolved in your favor. In most states, including Maryland, having a lawyer will not alter the calculus because even if your lawyer wanted to pay for your rental vehicle, they are legally and ethically barred from doing so. This is a terrible situation. There are no easy answers.

But the key is to apply pressure to the at-fault driver's insurance company. The pressure you can apply is limited if you do not have a lawyer because you do not have a hammer (lawsuits are hammers). But you can still apply pressure on the insurer to do the right thing. Keep in mind that you have to comply with the time limit to bring a claim in your jurisdiction.

How Long Can I Keep My Rental Car After the Accident?

In Maryland, and in most jurisdictions, you can keep your rental car as long as you are waiting for a check (for reasons that don't involve your delay) if your car is totaled or a reasonable period while repairs are being made.

Keep in mind that laws are different in each state and different insurance companies have different laws and policies. The key is making sure you are properly communicating (and documenting) what the insurance carrier is telling you. These situations very quickly become "he said/she said." Documentation solves this problem.

What Should I Do If I Have Suffered a Serious Injury in My Car or Truck Accident?

We handle serious injury auto accidents cases in the Baltimore-Washington area Our firm has won at trial in hundreds of motor vehicle collision cases. We have also successfully settled thousands of cases for clients, earning over $100 million in compensation for personal injury victims in settlements and trial verdicts.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a car accident, call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation via the Internet.

More Information on Dealing With Insurance Companies
  • Handling Your Own Personal Injury Case Without a Lawyer
  • Diminished Value Claims
More Information on Your Claim
  • Help Center (a path through the maze of civil tort claims)
  • Example of a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company
  • How Long Will Your Settlement Take?
  • Do I Need a Lawyer? Short answer: maybe.
  • Can I Fire My Lawyer? Short answer: absolutely.
  • What Is the Value of My Personal Injury Case?


Optional riders in your automobile insurance policies provide for payment of rental car expenses when your car is unavailable for use. How much and for how long the insurance company pays for rental car expenses depends on the type of rider purchased and the amount of coverage chosen. However, you might be able to get rental car payment without the rider if the other driver is at fault.

Multi car and van insurance quotesInsurance companies pay rental car costs for a covered accident or event.credit: g-stockstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Optional Riders

Ask for inclusion of an optional rider covering rental car costs, which are usually offered only with policies that have comprehensive and collision coverage. You will find the rider in the policy's declaration pages listed as "extended transportation expenses coverage," "rental reimbursement" or "loss of use." Look for a coverage amount next the rider name. This rider covers rental car expenses only for an accident or loss-of-use event included under the liability or comprehensive coverage of your policy.

Reimbursement Rates

Coverage pays for use of a rental car after an accident or if your car is in for major repairs. The insurance company also should pay for a rental if your car is stolen, though the rules often require a police report and a waiting period after the theft. Select the daily reimbursement rate and maximum coverage amount when you purchase the policy. For instance, you might choose $20 per day reimbursement for up to 30 days with a $600 maximum coverage amount, or 20/600. Choose the amounts based on your expected needs. If the policy covers a larger vehicle used to transport children to daycare, you'll need enough coverage to be able to rent a similar car.

Loss of Use

An insurance company might offer a "loss of use" rider that reimburses the policy holder a flat sum for travel or transportation expenses incurred while your car was unavailable for use because of a covered incident. Reimbursement of rental care expenses is just one cost covered under this rider. Expenses for the use of taxi cabs and public transit also are covered.

Using the Rider

Follow the instructions in your policy for reporting accidents, vehicle theft and disabled vehicle incidents that require towing and repairs. Call the police department and make a report, if required. Contact your insurance company's claim department as soon as possible. Your insurance company might have contracts with specific car rental companies that offer benefits to policy-holders, such as direct billing to the insurance company. If payment is by reimbursement after you have paid the costs, keep receipts that document your payments.

When You're Not at Fault

You might be able to get payment for your rental car even if you do not have a rental reimbursement rider in your policy. Some states require the insurance company of the at-fault driver to pay for the other driver's rental car expenses. The claim is based on provisions in the at-fault driver's liability coverage. Insurance regulations limit the type of vehicle you may rent and the amount of reimbursement you will receive. Ask your insurance company claim representative how to handle the arrangements for this coverage.


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