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By Jim Adler June 26, 2015

Americans involved in rental car accidents must understand their legal rights. Many wonder if they should have bought extra rental car insurance, and others may wonder how to report the accident. Jim Adler & Associates has the answers.

Are You Eligible for Payments?

In truth, having an accident in a rental car is very similar to having an accident in your own car, in terms of insurance and traffic laws. If you were injured in a rental car, you should be as eligible for payments for your injury costs as if you’d been in your own vehicle.

That may be true even if you did not purchase special rental car insurance when you rented the vehicle.

Is Rental Car Insurance Needed?

Is extra rental car insurance needed for the time you are driving a rented car? Perhaps not. Depending on the nature of the crash, you should be covered by your own personal car insurance or the other driver’s insurance. In fact, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners says personal auto insurance usually covers claims for rental car accidents.

Yet the NAIC also reports that 62% of consumers don’t think their own personal auto insurance automatically covers rental car accidents. As a result, 20% of car renters always pay for extra insurance, and another 20% occasionally pay for it, even though in most cases they didn’t need it.

Before you rent a car, ask your own car’s insurer if your personal insurance covers accidents while you’re driving a rental car. If you have collision coverage, that should pay for damages in crashes involving other vehicles, such as rental cars.

Credit Card Car Insurance

Also check with your credit card company, since some provide insurance for driving rental cars when you use their credit card for renting the car. According to CardHub.com, credit card companies offering this coverage include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. CardHub gave American Express its highest rating for this service and Visa its lowest.

However, some coverage provided by credit card companies only applies when other forms of claims or reimbursement do not, thus serving as “secondary insurance” or a backup. Also, if you purchase supplemental car insurance from the rental agency, the credit card company’s insurance will not apply.

Keep in mind that insurance protection via a credit card company may extend only up to a 15-day period of renting. Beyond that, such insurance does not apply. In fact, no credit card company will insure you in a rental car for longer than 30 consecutive days.

Technically, insurance from the car rental agency is not insurance so much as a protection package. It can cost $20 to $40 per day. A collision damage waiver can cost you about $20. It shifts liability for damages from you to the rental agency. However, your own personal auto insurance already should include liability coverage.

Your Own Insurance May Be Enough

Based on all this information, you may discern that you do not need extra coverage provided by paying for rental car insurance. You may find that such special rental car insurance could overlap with your existing coverage and you’d be spending money needlessly by purchasing it with your rental. Thus, your own insurance may be enough.

The majority of personal auto insurance policies do cover damages after rental car accidents, notably any damages you cause other drivers if you were at fault. Your own policy might cover your own property damage independently of who was at fault.

However, keep in mind that if you rent a car for a business trip, your own personal policy will not cover damages unless it also covers business use.

Injury Claims in a Rental Car Wreck

As for injury claims in a rental car wreck, you should notify your own insurance company, the same way as if you’d been driving your own vehicle. If you were driving a rental car in a single-vehicle accident, you may only deal with your own insurance company. When the car rental service is involved, it may have its own guidelines for reporting an accident.

Depending on fault, damages and the insurance coverage available between you, the other driver and the rental agency, you can file an injury claim where appropriate.

If another vehicle was involved, that driver’s insurance may be applied. Alert your insurer and the other driver’s insurer of the accident. If the other driver was at fault, you should file a claim with that driver’s insurer to collect damages for your medical costs, lost salary and other losses. But you must be able to prove that driver’s negligence.

Get a Car Accident Lawyer

If the rental agency denies your claim, of if you have other problems involving your claim, notify a car accident lawyer with Jim Adler & Associates. We can advise you on the steps to take in order to receive payments for your injury losses after a rental car accident.

Don’t let an insurance company deny you the payments you deserve after a rental car accident. Let our law firm help steer you to a successful settlement.

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