Before getting behind the wheel of a rental car, a driver should understand his/her insurance coverage and liability risks in case of an accident.
Understanding Rental Car Liability
Getting into a car accident while in a rental car puts the driver at risk for costly damages and repairs to the vehicle, as well as liability for injuries to other drivers. When renting a vehicle from a rental car company, the driver is responsible for returning the vehicle in the same condition as it was when it left the premises.
Rental car companies require signed agreements that outline rental car liabilities for the driver and the rental car company in case of an accident. Some form of insurance is required to cover vehicle damages. A driver may be covered under his/her personal car insurance, a credit card used for payment, or optional supplemental insurance offered by the rental car company. Optional insurance usually includes:
- Liability – Liability coverage protects a driver who’s at fault for a rental car accident. It provides protection against claims and lawsuits filed against the driver, typically up to $1 million.
- Collision – Collision coverage (also called a loss damage waiver) protects a driver against financial liability for a rental car that is damaged, stolen, and out of use while being towed or repaired.
- Personal Injury – Personal injury insurance provides protection for personal injuries and related medical expenses.
- Personal Effects – Personal effects coverage provides loss protection for personal items such as electronics, luggage, or belongings in the rental car.
Optional supplemental insurance is charged per day, so it can add up quickly. Drivers should check their individual insurance policies to verify coverage included for a rental car. Some car insurance policies cover collision and liability related to rental cars. Some individual health plans include coverage for rental car accident-related injuries, if the insured has PIP or MedPay coverage on his/her car insurance policy. Homeowners or renters insurance may include personal effects coverage for damage to personal belongings in a car, including a rental car.
Chicago accident lawyers see many injury claims and lawsuits related to rental car accidents. When renting a vehicle from a rental car company, a driver should check his/her personal insurance coverage and decide if it is adequate to cover liability risks in case of an accident. If there is a high deductible or questions on personal policy limits, it may be worth the additional expense of optional supplemental coverage.