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If your vehicle was damaged by another driver, at no fault of your own, you may be entitled to rental coverage from their insurance provider while your car is being repaired. Gather the other driver's contact and insurance information and call their insurance company directly to file a claim. Ideally, the insurance company will claim liability and provide a rental car promptly. However, delays often occur. If you need your rental immediately (such as for work), you might need to front the rental costs yourself or rent through your own insurance company, then seek reimbursement from the other driver's insurer later. If this is the case, select a rental vehicle of the same general type and value as your own, and send a record of all transactions to the insurance agent you're working with.
If you're at fault for an accident, or if your car was damaged in a non-collision event, your rental fees will only be covered if you added the optional rental reimbursement coverage to your policy. In that case, contact your own insurance agent to file a claim and manage the auto rental process. All rental coverage comes with daily and claim limits, so we recommend initiating your car repairs or replacement as early as possible.
Should I Seek Rental Reimbursement from My Insurer or the Other Driver's?
If the other driver was at fault, you should try to file a claim with their insurer and have them pay for your rental car directly. This prevents you from hurting your own insurance premiums or paying for rental expenses out-of-pocket. However, if you need a rental car urgently, or if the other insurance company is slow to admit liability, you may have to seek reimbursement retroactively. If this is the case, contact your own insurance agent and see if your policy includes rental reimbursement. If it does, your insurance company may cover your rental fees and seek reimbursement from the other insurance company on your behalf. If your policy doesn't include rental reimbursement, you'll need to pay for the rental and seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver's insurance company yourself.
How is fault determined?
Generally, fault may be determined through the testimony given by the drivers and witnesses, documented evidence, and, largely, by the police report filed on scene. We recommend photographing the scene and damage and recording witness contact information in order to defend your case. You should also avoiding admitting any fault on your own part if you think the other driver is to blame or the situation is questionable. It's possible for multiple drivers to share fault, which will yield different claim outcomes in different states.
How Do I Get Rental Reimbursement from an At-Fault Driver's Insurer
Regardless of who might be at fault, follow these steps after an accident to make sure you're financially protected:
- Contact the police. Their report will determine the validity of your claim.
- Gather the other driver's contact and insurance information
- Document how the accident occurred
- Photograph any damage
- If you believe the other driver is at fault, contact their insurance company directly to initiate a claim.
Keep in mind that, for very minor damage, drivers may decide to settle compensation without involving the police or either party's insurance company.
An at-fault driver's insurance provider is responsible for covering reasonable rental expenses incurred while your vehicle is being repaired. "Reasonable" expenses imply a rental vehicle of a similar type and value as the car being repaired. For example, If you were driving a pickup truck when the accident occurred, and you require a similar vehicle for work, it's not reasonable for an insurance company to only pay for a subcompact car. Likewise, if you were driving a mid-level vehicle worth only around $10,000, it's unreasonable for you to request a luxury rental. "Reasonable" expenses also imply an appropriate duration for the rental period. If your car repairs are delayed because the insurance company, or the other driver, is slow to respond, you should be covered until your own car is available. But if you're delaying the repair process, the relevant insurance provider may terminate coverage after a certain number of days. If your car is deemed a total loss, rental coverage typically ends as soon as a settlement is offered.
In the best of cases, fault will be clear and the insurance provider will pay for your rental vehicle directly. Other times, they might be slow to claim liability, in which case you may have to pay for the rental car yourself (or through your own policy's rental reimbursement coverage, if you have it), and pursue reimbursement later. Insurance companies might delay claiming liability if the other driver fails to respond to the insurer's requests for their account of the accident, or if the insurer thinks you might be partially at fault. Unfortunately, some providers know that if they delay reimbursement long enough, you might abandon the claim. Clearly and firmly stating the reasonable reimbursement you expect to receive will help you obtain the payment to which you are entitled.
What Rental Company Should I Use?
Different insurance providers may have preferred rental car companies through which they conduct most of their business. Although using these rental companies is usually not required, insurance companies often negotiate discounts for their clients. For example, GEICO's preferred rental car company is Enterprise Rent-A-Car. If you're seeking a claim through GEICO, Enterprise will bill GEICO directly instead of requiring you to pay at the counter. Similarly, Hertz provides discounts to Allstate and State Farm drivers. Regardless of which rental company you choose, you'll need to provide a credit card to meet the rental company's security deposit requirements, and any supplemental insurance coverage you elect to buy from the rental company may not be covered by your claim.
How to Get Rental Car Insurance if You're at Fault or Have Non-Collision Damage
If your policy includes rental reimbursement coverage, your rental fees will be covered if you are at fault or if your car is damaged in a non-collision event, such as flooding or theft. This coverage is an optional addition offered by most insurance providers. If you've added this coverage, your rental expenses will be reimbursed up to the policy's daily and claim limits.
- If your policy includes a 25/750 limit, you'll be reimbursed up to $25 per day for a maximum of $750.
- If your car is safe to drive, rental coverage begins the day you leave your car at the body shop and ends the day your car is repaired, or after 30 days, whichever comes sooner ($25x30=$750).
- If your car is unsafe to drive, coverage will begin immediately.
- If your car is declared a total loss, reimbursement coverage may end as soon as a settlement is reached, so we recommend you begin your search for a replacement vehicle immediately.