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Liability Insurance and Rental Vehicles

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on July 15, 2020

After an accident involving a rental vehicle, it might not be immediately clear which insurance policies apply. You are likely in a lot of pain, confused, and stressed out about finding the funds to cover the costs of your injuries, as well as any damage to your own vehicle if you were hit by a rental car. Luckily, there are several insurance policies that may apply to your situation and can provide coverage after a collision.

Personal Auto Insurance Policy

Your own car insurance policy will provide liability coverage for other drivers. How much coverage it provides and how high your deductible is will depend on the individual policy, however. Before driving a rental car, it would be wise to find out if your policy includes coverage for damage, theft, loss of use, stolen or damaged personal effects, and bodily injury or property damage caused to others. In addition, your auto insurance policy may include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which may apply when you are involved in an accident and need medical coverage.

For individuals who are struck by a rental vehicle, the at-fault driver’s personal policy may also apply, although this coverage may be capped out at the state of Washington’s minimum requirement, which includes:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of another person
  • $50,000 for injury or death of all other people
  • $10,000 for property damage

If your injuries and costs exceed this limit, you may have to file against your own underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage policy.

Credit Card Coverage

Many credit cards provide secondary coverage, meaning they pay out only when damages exceed the limits of your personal auto insurance policy, although this coverage will vary depending on the card. The main types of coverage provided with credit cards are damage, theft, and collision. However, they do little to compensate you for personal liability or personal effects. Accident victims will also not be able to file against a credit card’s coverage.

Primary Coverage with a Third Party

This is a separate policy that provides coverage for damage to a rental car. If you are involved in an accident in a rental car, primary coverage might make it possible to avoid filing a claim with your insurance company and having your rates go up as a result. For approximately $18 to $25, you can purchase a policy with no deductible, specifically for your use of a rental car, which provides coverage that includes:

  • $100,000 for damage and theft
  • $100,000 accidental death or dismemberment
  • $15,000 for excess medical expenses
  • $5,000 for loss of personal property

Liability Coverage

Some basic liability protection is built into rental car rates. If that is not sufficient, an umbrella liability policy should kick in if you have one. Another possibility is Supplemental Liability Protection, which is sold by the car rental company and priced at approximately $10 per day.

Rental Car Insurance

When you rent a car, the rental car company will offer to sell you insurance. This coverage could cost you hundreds of dollars per week. However, if your auto insurance policy does not include comprehensive and collision, you should purchase this coverage from the rental car company. These companies also sell coverage for certain types of damages that are not covered by personal auto insurance policies:

  • Before and After: This is the difference in what the vehicle was worth before the accident and what it can be sold for at auction after the crash.
  • Loss of use: Rental car companies make money on their vehicles. If a rental car is being repaired after an accident, the company may charge for loss of income during the time the vehicle was in the shop.
  • Diminution in value: Rental cars are often sold as consumer vehicles after being used as rentals. If an accident lessens the value the company can get for a rental car, it will charge for diminution in value.

Pursuing a Claim After an Accident

Rental car accidents are typically more complicated due to the various types of insurance coverage that could be involved. If you have been involved in a crash while driving a rental car, or in an accident caused by a driver in a rental car, contact Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 for assistance. Our Seattle car accident lawyers can help you sort out the insurance coverage and deal with insurance companies on your behalf.

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