In many cases, compensation is possible after an accident in a rental car, even if you opted out of the insurance coverage offered by the rental company. The best option, however, is to check if your personal insurance policy covers rental cars before deciding whether or not you should pay extra for rental car insurance. You can avoid unnecessary headaches just by doing a little bit of research.
Will my existing car insurance policy cover me?
Ohio law requires that you carry a minimum of $25,000 per person bodily injury liability insurance and $25,000 property damage liability insurance, or a certificate of proof of financial responsibility for an equivalent amount. Many of these policies extend to cover rental cars, meaning they pay out for any damage or injuries that occur to other parties injured in an accident you cause while driving a rented vehicle.
It is important to note, however, that the state minimum, may not cover all of the damage done and injured parties could still attempt to recoup their money through a personal injury lawsuit against you.
If you have full coverage car insurance on your vehicle, call your insurer and ask if your policy extends to rental cars. Many comprehensive and collision car insurance policies include coverage for rental cars you are driving, which would mean that your insurance company pays for damage to both the other vehicle and the rental car after an accident where you are at-fault.
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Will the rental car company sue me for damage to their vehicle?
The rental car company can – and often will – attempt to recover money for damages you cause. If the other driver was at-fault, his insurance company must pay. If you were at-fault but do not have a full coverage policy, your insurance may cover damage done to another vehicle, but it will not cover the damage done to your rental car. The rental car company may file a suit against you to pay these costs.
If you purchase a collision damage waiver (DCW), you will not be responsible for any damage you cause the vehicle.
Note: Rental car companies also often demand money to cover “loss of income,” and you may be liable for these fees during the vehicle’s repair.
Do credit cards offer protection in rental car accidents?
Credit card companies offer different coverage for rental cars based on the cardholder agreement for each particular card. Some people have very limited coverage while others offer the equivalent of a collision auto insurance policy. Calling your credit card company and asking if they provide any coverage when you use your card to rent a car is the best option to find out if this is an option.
Is the rental car company ever responsible for compensation after an accident?
In most cases, the rental car company is not liable for an accident that occurs while you are driving their car. There are situations when you could find the company liable for your accident, which typically only occurs if the rental car company:
- Failed to perform maintenance, leading to an accident
- Knew about an issue with the vehicle and failed to fix it, which led to the accident
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How do I know who will pay after an accident?
Whether or not you accepted the additional insurance offered by the car rental company, you most likely have at least one option to get compensation after an accident in a rental car. Figuring out which policy covers what, however, is often complicated.