Getting into an accident in any vehicle is stressful. However, things get even more complicated if you’re in a rental car accident. Even if you were partially or wholly at fault for the accident, you might not be on the hook for all of the damage to the car. Whether you’ll have to pay for the rental car damage depends on a few factors.
Who Was At Fault?
Perhaps the most important factor in determining what happens if you crash a rental car in California is whether you are at fault. Suppose you were involved in an accident that another driver’s negligence caused. In that case, you have less to worry about because, generally, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover the damages. However, don’t be surprised if the insurance company claims that you were partially at fault for causing the collision.
If you were partially or entirely at fault for causing a rental car crash, then the question becomes whether the accident is covered under one or more insurance policies.
Do You Have Insurance?
After a rental car accident that you either caused or contributed to, chances are that the rental car company is going to look to you to pay for the damage. However, the good news is that there are several different insurance policies that might cover the accident.
Coverage Under a Rental Car Insurance Policy
Rental car insurance is offered by the rental car company when you rent a car. This insurance only covers the rental period and comes in various coverage options, and comes in a variety of coverage options, such as loss-damage, liability, personal accident, personal effects, and total coverage. This insurance usually costs between $10 to $60 a day (on top of the rental cost). However, it’s common for those renting cars to forgo this extra expense. If you fall into this category, don’t worry because you might have rental car accident coverage and not even know it.
Coverage Under Your Primary Auto Policy
If you own a car and maintain an insurance policy for your vehicle, that policy may extend to a rental car accident. Of course, it’s impossible to determine if your policy covers a rental car without reading the policy, so you will have to take a close look at the language in your contract. Many drivers hesitate to report an accident to their insurance company because they fear it may increase their rates. That might be the case if you were at fault. However, if the damage to the vehicle is significant, it may still be worth looking into whether your insurance will cover you or not.
Coverage Through Your Credit Card
Believe it or not, some credit cards provide rental car insurance as a perk for cardholders. Again, not every credit card offers this protection, so you will need to contact your credit card company to determine whether coverage applies and what limits the policy has.
Automatic Coverage Under California Law
Although it’s nothing to rely on completely due to the relatively low limits, California law requires all rental car companies to provide the minimum coverage for their vehicles. Thus, in terms of property damage, you are covered up to the first $5,000 in damage, even if you don’t have a primary auto insurance policy.
What to Do After a Rental Car Accident
After getting into an accident in a rental car, you should treat it as any other car accident. In other words, you’ll want to report the accident, make sure that all other people involved are okay, summon medical care if necessary, and ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses. When approaching a witness, explain the situation calmly. Ask the witness if they saw what happened and if they would mind giving you their name and phone number in case the insurance company wants to talk to someone who observed the accident.
Do You Have Questions About Who Pays for a Rental Car After an Accident?
If you were recently involved in a California rental car accident, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. At Silva Injury Law, we have a long history of helping people deal with difficult insurance companies. Our California car accident lawyers will fight to connect you with fair compensation for the harm you have suffered. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate personal injury lawyer, contact us or call us today.
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