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Rental car accident no insurance

Dealing with a rental accident might be the last thing on your mind when you load up the car and drive off into the sunset, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. While handling an accident in a rental car is similar to what you’d do if faced with a collision in your own vehicle, it’s important to follow the proper protocol to avoid confusion and unnecessary paperwork.

Before you do anything else, make sure that everyone in the vehicle is ok. Check the surrounding scene and any other cars involved. If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. If there’s a danger of explosion, clear the area. Set up emergency flares if necessary or call the police to help redirect traffic. As soon as you’ve determined that the scene is safe, exchange contact and insurance information with any other parties involved and take pictures of the damage incurred. Try not to mention that you’re driving a rental car, as some people may try to take advantage of the situation. Leave the scene as soon as it is safe to do so.

More than car insurance local numberSo far, these are the same steps you’d take if you were driving your own vehicle. However, with a rental, you need to deal with a bit of additional paperwork. As soon as possible, call your car rental company and inform them of the accident. There’s often a sticker with an emergency number located inside the glove box. Ask the company how to proceed – but be sure to read the fine print of both your insurance plan and any insurance provided by the rental company.

You’ll of course want to inform your own insurance company of the accident and ask whether they’ll take care of filing an accident report with the local police or whether this is your responsibility. If you don’t already know, ask your insurance company whether you have collision and comprehensive coverage in your policy in addition to the liability coverage required by law. Collision and comprehensive coverage protects the car you rent. You’ll also want to find out what your deductible is. A deductible is the portion of loss that you have to pay out of pocket. For instance, if your deductible is $400, and you incurred $10,000 worth of damage, you have to pay $400 in repairs, and your insurance company will cover the rest. Most rental companies require you to have a deductible of $500 or less or will ask you to buy extra insurance when you rent the vehicle. Be sure to inform your insurance company of any additional insurance you purchased with the rental.

If you didn’t purchase extra insurance or a collision waiver when you rented the car, your insurance company is responsible for paying the rental company for the car only if your active policy provides first party coverage. The payments will still be subject to the terms of your policy. This means that whether or not you were at fault, you must pay your deductible directly to the rental company, as the company is entitled to have the car fixed as soon as possible. Your insurance company is then responsible for going after the responsible party – if you were not at fault for the accident.

Restrictions on your policy can cause problems, the biggest being loss of use. If you don’t have rental coverage on your policy, you will owe rental expenses to the rental company as if you were still renting the car. This means that if it takes 4 days to repair the vehicle, you will owe 4 days of rental. Even if you do carry loss of use coverage in your policy, you’ll have to owe the difference to the rental company if the limit is below what the rental car would usually go for.

Your accident claim will be handled differently if you purchased extra insurance or a collision damage waiver.

If you bought extra insurance (either from the rental company or your credit card company), be sure to read the fine print on both the additional insurance and your own policy. Some rental insurance policies provide complete coverage in any accident as long as you pay the premium. This means that they would cover the cost of the car that you hit (if you were at fault) and the rental car damage. However, you might still have a deductible from your own insurance policy, which will usually serve as a secondary form of coverage if the rental car insurance policy limits are low. Read both policies together to see who will pay first and who second.

A collision damage waiver releases you from the agreement you make when you rent a car that in case of an accident, you are responsible for paying for the car. However, even if you purchased a collision damage waiver, you must still file a claim for your medical bills in case of injury and for the car you hit if you were at fault.

Getting into any sort of accident, whether in a rental car or your own vehicle, is never pleasant. The most important thing is to make sure that everyone involved is safe and to be in a calm, collected state of mind when you approach the paperwork pile.

Photo Credit: Car accident picture from uberculture


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.

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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?


When you rent a car, whether for a business trip or for personal reasons, it usually means you will be driving an unfamiliar vehicle in an unfamiliar location. Under these circumstances, even the safest drivers may find themselves involved in a car accident. 

In many ways, the legal issues involved in an accident involving a rented car should be treated no differently than any other auto accident. It will likely be necessary to file a police report and to report the accident to your personal insurer. But the fact that the vehicle has been rented will add some additional complications that must be dealt with, particularly when it comes to insurance. 

This article looks at some common legal issues that crop up after a car accident involving a rental car.

Reporting the Accident

Typically, a car accident will be reported to the police (if there are injuries) and the personal insurance companies of the drivers involved. (More on Contacting Your Insurance Company After a Car Accident.) If you are driving a rented vehicle, however, it doesn’t end there, as there will almost certainly be additional reporting requirements involving the rental company.  

The information on how to report an accident may be provided by the rental company when you rent the car, or it may be in your copies of documentation involving the rental.  If you are uncertain about the proper procedure required by the rental company for making an accident report, ask the rental company representative to explain it to you.  It is important to follow the terms of your agreement with the rental company after you’ve been involved in an accident in one of their cars, as any failure to do so could result in additional liability on your part.

Rental Car Accidents and Personal Auto Insurance

You may think that your personal auto insurance will cover you in the event of a rental car accident, and that may very well be true. Before you rent a car it is important to familiarize yourself with your own auto insurance policy in order to determine if it is adequate or if additional insurance coverage needs to be purchased before you rent.  Some rental car companies may pressure you to purchase additional insurance before you rent.  This is frequently the case if your personal insurance policy has a high deductible. But the choice is yours, and the car rental company can't require you to purchase additional coverage as long as you've got required coverage. (Learn more about Car Accidents and Insurance Coverage.)

Even if you’re traveling in a foreign country, where laws related to liability and auto accidents can differ dramatically from home, you may still be covered by your personal auto insurance policy.  Before you plan you trip, it’s a good idea to read your policy thoroughly so that you will be prepared when renting a car abroad.

Collision Coverage Through the Rental Company

Your own insurance policy probably provides coverage for a rental car accident, but be sure to review the terms of your coverage just in case. Most rental car companies will offer collision coverage, which extends to damage to the car you are driving, irrespective of whether or not the accident was your fault. But be careful here, because there is likely a lot of fine print, and it may contain loopholes. In addition, there's a good chance that any coverage offered by the rental company will merely overlap with coverage you already have, so you may be wasting your money by purchasing additional insurance from the rental company.   

Your Credit Card Company May Provide Insurance

Another place to check regarding insurance coverage for your car rental is with your credit card provider. Oftentimes a credit card will provide at least a minimum amount of protection (i.e. covering collision damage to the rental car after a deductible) when you use the card to reserve and/or pay for the rental. Check your credit card agreement or call the credit card company to see if this is an option for you.


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