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What if I am in an Accident with a Rental Car?

A rental car is a convenient way to get around while away on a vacation or business trip. However, using a rental car involves assuming some level of liability in the event of a car accident. Most car rental agencies will discuss terms of insurance coverage when preparing the rental agreement. It is important to appreciate the options and what they mean before driving. 

Does My Insurance Policy Cover Rental Cars?

Most drivers possess insurance coverage for their own vehicles. If this is the case, then the terms of the policy may extend to cover accidents involving rental cars.  However, the policy may not cover all associated costs. The terms of the driver’s policy define the extent and limitations of the coverage.

What Does My Collision and Comprehensive Insurance Cover?

Insurance for collisions pays for damage to the owner’s car caused by a collision with another vehicle or object. Comprehensive coverage pays for unrelated to a collision, such as vandalism or flooding. Both typically involve the owner first paying out-of-pocket expenses before the policy covers the rest of the costs of repair up to the maximum amount defined in the policy. Frequently, the deductible is in the range of $250 to $1,000. If the car insurance policy includes collision and comprehensive coverage, then the coverage typically extends to cover damage to the rental car in the event of an accident when the policy owner is driving. 

What Does My Liability Insurance Cover?

Personal car insurance also includes liability insurance coverage which covers medical expenses and damages to property of other individuals involved in a car accident. Bodily injury liability coverage pays for claims and lawsuits by someone who has been injured or by survivors of someone who died in an auto accident that was caused by the insured driver. It compensates others for pain and suffering and economic damages, such as lost wages.

Property damage liability coverages pays for claims by people whose property is damaged in an accident. Sometimes, both bodily injury and property damage liability are combined into a single combined liability limit. The terms of the policy dictate a maximum amount of costs covered by the policy. State mandated minimum liability coverage can be very limited. Sometimes, using a rental car for an extended period will not be covered by personal car insurance policies.

Does My Credit Card Provide Insurance Protection?

If a car is rented using a major credit card, then most cards automatically provide insurance for damage to the rental vehicle during the rental period. However, the card rarely covers other costs, such as liability for bodily harm and for property damage, which can be very expensive in the event of a serious car accident.

What is a Collision Damage Waiver?  

For those without an existing car insurance policy or lack collision and comprehension coverage, then it is important to add that coverage to the rental contract. Car rental companies offer a collision damage waiver. This is a fee added to the contract that allows the rental car company to waive any vehicle replacement or repair costs if the vehicle gets damaged or is stolen during the rental period.

There are exceptions to this waiver. For example, damages resulting from reckless driving or that occurs when the vehicle is operated by an unauthorized user will most likely not be covered under the waiver provision.

What Should I Do After a Rental Car Accident?

After a car accident, it is important to see if everyone involved is okay and safe. If someone is injured, the driver should call for emergency assistance by dialing 9-1-1 and give the location of the accident.

It is also important to exchange information with others involved, including their names, addresses, and insurance carriers, and policy numbers. If a police officer arrives at the scene, it is important to get their contact information and obtain a copy of the police report.

A driver should call the rental company and let them know about the accident. A motorist should also ask about how they should proceed from there. One should know whether there is any necessary paperwork to fill out and if there is a tow or alternate vehicle available according to the terms of the contract. A motorist should call the owner’s insurance company to initiate a claim. 

How is Fault Determined in Maryland?

States vary in how fault is determined and this impacts the outcome of who may recover damages after a car accident. In Maryland, those seeking compensation from a car accident must show someone else was at fault to be entitled to damages. The state only allows a person to recover if the accident was not at all their fault. This is a strict application of the idea of contributory negligence and can result in neither party being entitled to compensation. In addition, Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. 

While straightforward claims can sometimes be resolved through insurance companies, the strict application of contributory negligence can risk one losing the right to compensation. Ultimately, many car accident cases will need to be resolved in court.

Towson Personal Injury Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Injured Victims with Complicated Rental Car Accident Cases

Our Towson personal injury lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC have successfully represented many car accident victims. We understand how rental car accidents can be complicated, and we will determine whether you are eligible for compensation. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Maryland, including Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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