Car Accidents in Rental Cars: Am I Covered?

California is one of the top states for rental car services. Rentals are for more than just tourists, however. You may rent a car whiles yours is in the shop or because you need a van or a truck for a short time. What happens if you are injured while driving a rental car? You should get immediate medical care if necessary, and then, talk to a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Who Is Responsible for a Rental Car Accident?

When you are driving a rental car, you are under contract with the rental car company. You have agreed to return the car in the same condition in which you borrowed it. If you’re in an accident, you obviously are not able to do that. That’s a violation of your contract, which can mean that you are on the hook for the damages to the car. This is true even if someone else hit you and you’re not at all responsible for the crash.
If the person driving the other car is in a rental vehicle, the rental car company likely won’t be involved in your accident either. That means that under most circumstances, the rental car company will come out on top regardless of who caused the crash and what was damaged.

Insurance Options for Rental Cars

One of the best ways that you can protect yourself is to ensure that you have the right insurance coverage for this type of situation. When you rent a car, the following insurance options may be offered.

  • Collision Damage Waiver. This option is also known as loss damage waiver. If you opted for this choice, the rental car company will let you off the hook for replacement or repair costs of the car if you are in an accident. There are a few exceptions, such as for reckless driving. This waiver isn’t technically insurance, but it does mean that the rental car company, and not you, will pay for damages to their vehicle. Your personal insurance may still end up paying part of the costs depending on the type of plan you have, however.
  • Liability Coverage. If you own your own car, you likely already have liability coverage. That type of insurance will usually apply to your rental car, and if you opt for additional coverage, the two will overlap. Liability coverage will pay for property damage and medical expenses when you cause an accident while you are driving a rental car.
  • Personal Accident. This type of coverage will pay for injuries to the driver and passengers in the rental car vehicle. It may also cover ambulance expenses as well. This coverage is the same as “personal injury protection” in most circumstances. Because PIP coverage is not required in California, many drivers won’t have this type of protection.
  • Personal Effects. If your property inside the vehicle is damaged or stolen, personal effects coverage will come into play. Many homeowners’ policies provide similar coverage, so this extra protection might be unnecessary.

Take some time to consider your options if you’re renting a vehicle. Because rental car crashes can be complicated, you should also talk to a Los Angeles car accident lawyer about your choices as well.


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