Many people do not fully understand the insurance coverage they select or how it will work if they are in an accident in a rented car. Some opt for the coverage offered by the rental car company, others rely on their own insurance, and some believe their credit card company will cover them. In addition, fault still matters in these cases.
If you were in a crash and still wonder what happens if you get into an accident with a rental car, read on to learn what to do and when you may need to call a car accident lawyer for help.
Contacting the Rental Car Company After a Crash
In the first few minutes after a crash, focus on ensuring you are not hurt and getting any medical assessment or care you need. This must be your priority in any traffic accident. If possible, take pictures of the damage to the vehicles and wider shots of the entire scene. Document all damage to the rental car—or have someone else do so—before you return it.
Once you address your injuries or medics clear you, it is time to contact the rental car company. You can likely find this phone number in the glove box, in your agreement, or elsewhere in plain sight in the car. You should not call the local office where you rented the vehicle. Look for the emergency number. They will know the process and what you need to do.
They will likely give you instructions based on the circumstances, such as whether the car is drivable. You will need to complete additional forms for their records. This could require information such as when and where the crash occurred and the names and contact information of those involved. They may also discuss your insurance coverage with you at this point.
What Insurance Coverage Options Are There?
There are generally three options for property damage insurance when renting a car:
- The rental car company’s damage waiver
- Your car insurance, if you have collision and comprehensive coverage
- The credit card you rented with, which may provide secondary coverage
If you have coverage provided by the rental car company, you may not have to make any other calls. They will handle it from there unless there is an issue. It is important to know, though, that they could refuse to cover damages if you violated the rental agreement.
You also want to avoid discussing what happened or admitting fault when talking to the rental car company or their insurance agency. They could use your comments to deny your coverage and leave you holding the bill for repairs.
Should I Call My Insurance Company?
If you did not purchase the damage waiver from the rental car company, you will need to contact your auto insurance agency. They can help you understand your coverage, any deductibles that apply, and what to do. It is a good idea to call them even if you are unsure you have coverage for a rental car accident.
You may have additional coverages through your car insurance company that could help you, such as medical payments (MedPay) for your injuries.
Holding the Other Driver Responsible for Your Damages
When the other driver caused the crash, they will be legally responsible for the damages, just like in other accidents. In fact, pursuing damages for your injuries will be very similar to other accident claims.
Property damage claims are somewhat more complex, though. This is especially true if you do not have insurance for property damages to cover the rental car. According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), Texas law does not require you to have a collision damage waiver or other property damage coverage for a rental car.
However, you could face significant expenses if you do not and cannot recover compensation from the at-fault driver. The rental car company could hold you responsible for:
- The damage and repair
- The reduced value of the car
- Lost income while it is in the shop
- Other related fees
Working With a Lawyer Can Benefit You
We encourage those facing this situation to work with a rental car accident attorney who can handle their claim and help them recover compensation for their injuries as well as these expenses.
Most of these cases settle through the insurance claims process, and others require arbitration in the contract. If a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is necessary, you may have up to two years to file under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003. Getting started as soon as possible is a good idea, though.
Speak to a Car Accident Attorney in Texas
At Trujillo & Sanchez, P.C., we are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with big insurers, rental car companies, or others. We may be able to handle your insurance claim or lawsuit and recover the money you need to cover any losses you face. Contact us today for a free consultation.