Whether you’re traveling to a distant land or your own car is getting a repair, odds are good that you will need to rent a car at some point in your adult life. However, many people are unsure whether or not their own personal auto insurance policies cover them in these rental vehicles. Let’s take a look at how auto insurance policies generally treat rental vehicles and what to expect if you are in an accident while renting.
Most auto insurance policies will transfer their coverage to whatever vehicle you are driving, especially policies from large companies. However, this does not mean your insurance policy is “walk-away” with no consequences. Because the rental car company technically owns the car, they do legally have the right to charge you for any damages that happen to the vehicle while it is on rent to you (yes, even if it’s not your fault). They can do this because there is a term in the contract that states that you agree to return the car in the same condition you initially received it.
How does my insurance company pay for rental damages
So long as it is written into the terms of your auto insurance policy that they do cover you while in a rental vehicle, you will be required to file a claim with your insurance company, and provide that claim along with your insurance information and a statement to the rental company upon return of the car.
Your rental agency will then collect your deductible from you in full on the spot (yes, even if it’s not your fault) instead of the full cost of the vehicle repair. You may get this deductible back from your insurance company later if investigations deem that you are fault-free, but this may take several weeks or even months to determine. From there, the rental agency will work with your insurance to get the repairs paid for.
What about rental insurance?
Rental agencies usually offer their own protection products, such as supplemental liability and a damage waiver. Because these are entirely optional, a lot of people ask if these products are a total scam or worth it in any way. The answer: that’s entirely up to you. The one big benefit to purchasing a damage waiver clause is the ability to walk away from the damage without paying anything out of pocket (so long as you didn’t violate any of the terms of that clause). But the cost can add up over longer rentals.
Most people with a lower deductible may opt to just stick with their own policy, particularly over long rentals. For those who have liability-only policies or very high deductibles, this additional protection may be worth every penny, especially if the worst should the worst happen.
If you are in an accident in a rental car and feel as though you are being treated unfairly by your insurance company, contact the Florida insurance lawyers at Danahy & Murray, P.A. Our team of distinguished litigators has helped numerous clients in their battles against insurance companies to ensure they receive the financial relief they deserve. We have received many legal accolades, including recognition from Super Lawyers, An AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, and admission to the multi-million dollar advocates forum.