If you are going to rent a car when you are on vacation or away on business, you will be focused on the trip itself. It is a temporary situation, and the potential for a car accident is probably the furthest thing from your mind when you are making plans.
This can lull you into a false sense of security because anything can happen at any time. You should understand the insurance implications, and you should know how to react if you are in an accident.
Does Your Car Insurance Cover a Rental Car?
Your own car insurance may cover an accident that you get into when you are driving a rental car. It depends on the nature of the coverage that you are carrying. If you have liability and comprehensive motor vehicle insurance, it will usually carry over to a rental car.
This being stated, you should contact the company to make sure that you will be covered through your policy, and there is one very important consideration. Your insurance coverage is going to be based on the value of your car, and you should keep this in mind.
People sometimes rent expensive vehicles that are fun to drive when they are on vacation or on a business trip. You may want to impress a client or experience driving a powerful sports car out on the open road.
The insurance that you carry on your own personal car may not be enough to cover a rental vehicle that is worth far more than your vehicle. If you are in this situation, you may want to buy additional insurance to cover the gap.
Rental Car Company Insurance Coverage
When you are at the rental car company’s counter, the agent will invariably ask if you want to purchase insurance. This is not a yes or no answer to a single question because there are different types of insurance that you can potentially carry to supplement your own coverage.
Liability. One of the possible forms of coverage that you can obtain is liability insurance. This type of insurance is mandatory in 48 of the 50 states. Unless you live in Virginia or New Hampshire and you are a risk taker, you will have liability insurance if you own and operate a vehicle.
You must keep this in mind when you are considering liability insurance that can be purchased from a car insurance company. Even if you have liability insurance, if you are carrying the minimum that is required by law, additional coverage will have value.
The types of liability that are covered under supplemental liability insurance are property damage and health care bills that may be incurred by others because of your negligence.
Personal accident coverage. If you carry personal injury protection insurance on your own motor vehicle, it will cover your medical expenses if you are injured in an accident in a rental car. This being stated, personal accident insurance can be purchased from a rental car company.
Personal property. You can obtain insurance from a rental car company that will cover a loss of personal property that is stolen or otherwise lost from a rental car, but it may not be necessary. People who own homes can use their homeowner’s insurance to cover this type of loss, and the same applies to those who are carrying renter’s insurance.
Loss damage waiver. There is a fourth possibility that is not technically insurance per se, but it will provide strong protection. If you purchase a loss damage waiver or collision damage waiver from the rental company, they will assume responsibility for vehicle damage or theft.
The waiver will typically cover another potential charge that can stem from loss of use, which is the company’s inability to make money renting the vehicle because of the collision damage.
Supplemental credit card coverage. You should understand your credit card company policies regarding supplemental rental car insurance. Some credit cards will cover losses that are not covered by your existing insurance.
Inspect the Vehicle Thoroughly
When you rent a car, you are given the opportunity to inspect the vehicle and you have to attest to the fact that it is not damaged before you drive away. After a long flight, you may not be in the mood to go over the car with a fine-tooth comb, and you may just sign the document.
This is a mistake because you could be held liable for something that took place before you rented the vehicle. Even if it is an inconvenience, take the time to inspect the vehicle thoroughly to protect yourself.
Things to Do after a Rental Car Accident
The first step to take immediately after a rental car accident is that of self-preservation. You should call 911 if you or a passenger is going to need immediate medical assistance and you can do so.
If it is possible, you should pull the vehicle off the road and call 911 to get the police involved so they can file a report. This will be very important if you find out that you have a personal injury case after your condition is evaluated by health care professionals.
You should try to communicate with the other driver if there was another car involved. You should exchange contact information, insurance policy numbers, and driver’s license numbers.
Never acknowledge that you are at fault at the scene because there can be extenuating circumstances even if you think you may have made a mistake. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you may not see everything clearly.
Likewise, do not make any agreements if another driver offers to pay for damages that they may have caused.
You should take pictures of both cars from every angle, including the license plate numbers, and you can also take relevant shots of the surrounding area to provide context. If there are any witnesses who saw what happened, you should try to get their contact information.
After these steps, you should call the car rental company to tell them what happened. There will probably be an emergency number listed on the rental agreement that you signed when you left the office, and there may be a number to call in the glove compartment.
The next step is to report the accident with your insurance company. While you are having the conversation, you could ask them about the extent of your coverage given the circumstances, and you should inquire about the deductible.
Should You Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been physically injured in any way, you should get the medical assistance that you need as soon as possible and schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Even if you think that you will quickly recover, you should discuss the matter with a lawyer.
In some cases, injuries that have long-term effects are not immediately apparent, so you should make no assumptions on your own.
DE Car Accident Attorneys at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can Represent Drivers in a Rental Car Accident Case
Rental car accident cases can be especially complicated for injured parties. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a rental car, the Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are available to assist. Our legal team can handle the legal matters so you can concentrate on your recovery. We will fight hard for you and your family to secure the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.