How to Get a Rental Car From an Insurance Claim

UPDATED: May 10, 2022Fact Checked

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: May 10, 2022

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A Concise Overview

  • If you want to get a rental car after you file an insurance claim, you’ll need to have a policy that covers it.
  • Most insurance companies offer add-on coverage for rental cars. This coverage will allow you to recieve a set amount per day to cover the rental. For example, your policy may cover $15/day for your rental car.

You’ve been in a car accident, but that doesn’t mean you need to put a hold on your responsibilities or cancel those plans you’ve been looking forward to for months. 

Whether or not you were at fault, you might be able to cover the costs of a rental car through insurance, allowing you to get where you need to go without having to wait on repairs or a settlement for your totaled vehicle.

Whether you’ve found yourself standing by the side of the road searching “How to get a rental car from insurance claim” or you’re just someone who likes to plan ahead, you’ve come to the right place. In this short guide, we’ll explain your options for getting back on the road with a temporary set of wheels.

Step 1: Determine Whose Insurance Should Cover the Cost

If you’ve been in an accident involving another vehicle, this question depends on which driver was at fault (responsible for the accident).

  • Simply put, the at-fault driver’s insurance is required to cover the costs of both the accident and any related charges, including the need to obtain a rental car.

  • As with most things accident-related, however, the question of fault is often both difficult to discern and quite time-consuming. It can involve witness testimonials, police investigations, and the cooperation of both drivers. In other words, there are plenty of moving parts that can prevent an at-fault determination from being made in a timely manner.

If the other driver is determined to be at fault, then they may be required to cover the cost of your rental car while you wait either for your vehicle to be repaired or for your insurance to assist you with obtaining a new vehicle if your automobile has been totaled. 

If you are determined to be the at-fault driver, either through an accident involving a collision or through some circumstance involving only your vehicle, then you will need to file a claim with your own insurance agent in order to pay for the rental car you need.

Does Your Insurance Cover Rental Reimbursement?

Keep in mind that policies don’t include coverage for rental car reimbursement by default. In fact, this feature is not typically included in collision coverage or comprehensive auto insurance policies.

Paying for additional rental reimbursement coverage can come in handy. If you need to file a claim to get a rental car, not even full coverage auto insurance will be able to help you.

It’s typically not possible to add rental car insurance after an accident. If you aren’t adequately covered, then you may end up needing to pay for some or all of the vehicle damage.

Specific Circumstances to Consider

Filing a claim for a rental car isn’t always a straightforward process. In fact, you might sometimes decide to pay out of pocket so you can get back to your routine more quickly.

Here are a few situations you might encounter in the event of an accident:

  • The other driver was at fault, but their insurance is taking too long – If the other driver was at fault, but their insurance is taking too long to cover your claim for a rental car, you might want to consider filing a claim with your own insurance. This would allow you to reclaim your ability to get where you need to go without waiting an inordinate amount of time to do so. If this is the route you choose, you need to make sure that your insurance actually covers car rental reimbursement.

  • You have been designated the at-fault driver – If this is the case, you will need to file a claim with your insurance agent in order to get a rental car. If your policy doesn’t cover car rental reimbursement, however, you will likely need to pay out of pocket for your rental.

  • An at-fault determination is proving difficult to obtain – If a determination is delayed for any number of reasons, you likely don’t want to wait to get back to your normal routine. If this is the case, then you may want to go through your own insurance or, if you’re not covered, pay out of pocket. If the other driver is eventually found to be at fault, their insurance will reimburse you once the claim has been processed.

With so many different possibilities, it’s impossible to propose a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to obtaining a rental car from an insurance claim.

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Step 2: Rent a Car

Once you’ve figured out which decision is right for your situation, you’ll still have to go about renting the car. To do so, you’ll need a few essential things:

  • Proof of insurance
  • A credit card
  • A valid driver’s license proving you are at least 25 years of age

Then, you’ll need to make sure your rental car is covered by insurance. Since you just had an accident, the last thing you want is another auto issue!

Check with your insurance company to see if you’re covered while operating the rental vehicle. It’s important to note that your insurance will typically only cover a vehicle of similar value to the one you own. So if you’re fortunate enough to be cruising around in an Aston Martin, then go ahead and rent yourself a Porsche. However, if your insurance covers a Camry, you might want to stick with Toyota.

If your insurance doesn’t transfer over to a rental for whatever reason, the car rental company should have several options for you to consider:

  • Collision Damage Waiver Collision insurance will shift coverage of the rental car from your own insurance to the rental company’s in the event of theft or vehicle damage.

  • Liability Coverage Liability coverage is designed to cover costs if an accident you are involved in leads to injury or property damage.

  • Personal Accident Insurance – This will provide for medical expenses to you or your passengers, but not for anyone else involved in an accident.

  • Personal Effects Coverage – This will help you replace or repair any personal items damaged in an accident. Just like personal accident insurance, however, this does not cover damage to personal items in another vehicle involved in the accident.

You’ve just learned about the importance of adequate coverage from your accident. Take that lesson to heart before you get on the road with your rental.

Step 3: Crunch the Numbers

Like most things involved in the process of getting a rental car from an insurance claim, the duration of your rental can vary. 

  • If you’re obtaining a rental vehicle through your own insurance’s rental reimbursement policy, you will be allowed to keep the rental for however long you have established coverage.

    For example, your insurance might cover a rental of $30 per day and a maximum of $900. This policy would cover the cost of your rental car for up to 30 days. If you need more time due to lengthy repairs on your own vehicle, you might end up paying out of pocket. Keep in mind that rental costs are currently at a high.

  • If the other driver’s insurance is paying for your rental, then you’ll typically be covered for the duration of any necessary repairs on your vehicle. If your car has been totaled in this scenario, then the at-fault driver’s insurance should be required to cover the cost of your rental until a settlement has been reached regarding the totaled vehicle.

Step 4: Prepare for the Future

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first quarter of 2021 saw a 10.5% annual increase in traffic fatalities. Statistically, America’s roads are the most dangerous they’ve been in over a decade.

If you’ve been involved in an accident that requires repairs, a rental car can be the safest and quickest option for getting yourself where you need to go. 

And even if you didn’t have adequate insurance to cover your costs this time, you can still get prepared for the future. As you can see, having your own rental reimbursement coverage is an invaluable tool to getting yourself back on the road in the shortest time possible.

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Find Your Rental-Friendly Policy

A car accident can be a lot of things—dangerous, terrifying, and especially inconvenient. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options available to you. Before hitting the road, make sure you know how and if you are covered for car rental reimbursement.

It’s important to understand that even full coverage auto insurance will not allow you to file a claim to pay for a rental car in the event of an accident. Keeping in mind that the other driver’s insurance will only pay for your rental if they have been determined to be at fault in the accident, taking out a policy with rental reimbursement is the safest way to ensure you won’t have to cover the cost of a rental on your own.

Ready to get covered? Check out our free online tool.

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