How to get a rental car from an insurance claim after an accident

Here’s how to tell if insurance will cover the cost of a rental car.

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If you’ve just been in a car accident, you probably have a lot to figure out. No matter who was at fault, you’ll need to sort out everyone’s information, file a claim and get your vehicle patched up. If your car was damaged in the accident and needs to remain in the shop while it’s being repaired, you may need a replacement rental car.

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Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the details of your auto policy, your replacement rental car — or a portion of it — may be covered, either by your car insurance company or the other driver’s insurer. Here’s what you need to know about getting your rental car covered by an insurance claim.

Key Takeaways

  • If you have rental car reimbursement coverage, the cost of renting a replacement vehicle after an accident will be covered

  • But you’ll only be covered up to your stated limit, and if you exceed that limit you’ll have to supplement some of the costs out of pocket

  • If you’re in an accident caused by another driver, the at-fault party’s insurance should cover the cost of your rental car

When will insurance cover a rental car?

It’s important to note that if your car has to be in the repair shop following an accident, your auto insurance won’t automatically cover the cost of your replacement rental car. A rental car will only be covered by your insurance if you have rental car reimbursement, also called substitute transportation coverage, or loss of use coverage as part of your auto policy.

Rental car reimbursement is an affordable add-on to your insurance policy. Unlike core coverage like liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you won’t be required to add rental car coverage to your policy, but it’s usually a smart addition. It won’t add much to your monthly premiums, and it will help save you the expense of a rental car, which can seriously add-up, especially if repairs to your car take several weeks.

If you have rental car reimbursement coverage, you’ll be covered up to your the coverage limits in your policy. You’re typically given a daily limit and an overall limit. For example, your rental car coverage might be $40 a day with a maximum payout of $1000. That means your insurer will cover $40 a day for a rental car, but only up to the $1000 limit per claim. Check your policy if you’re not sure what your limits are, and speak to your insurer if you’re interested in raising your rental car coverage limits.

What about filing a third-party claim?

If you’re in an accident caused by another driver, you’ll file a claim with their car insurance provider. This is called a third-party claim. If the other driver’s insurance determines they’re at fault, they may be obligated to pay for your rental car.

If you need to get a rental car before the at-fault driver has been determined, you can either go through your own car insurance company (provided you have rental car reimbursement coverage) or rent a car on your own and get reimbursed by the at-fault driver’s insurance provider later.

How to get your rental car through insurance

If you have rental car reimbursement coverage, you may be able to bill your rental car directly to your insurer. Some car insurance companies have relationships with specific rental car companies to help streamline this process, but even if you don’t use your insurer’s preferred rental provider, ask if it’s possible to have the rental car billed directly to your insurer.

You can also pay for your rental car upfront and then have your insurance company reimburse you later. Remember that your insurance provider will only reimburse you up to your coverage limits, so don’t spring for the priciest rental assuming that your insurer will pay for the whole thing. If you choose to pay for the car upfront, make sure to save any relevant documents to help make the reimbursement process as smooth as possible later on.

Another important note: Your rental car reimbursement coverage doesn’t extend to the security deposit, fuel costs or any additional insurance you choose to purchase for the rental car. (However, your comprehensive and collision coverage usually extend to rentals).

Learn more about insurance coverage for rental cars.

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How to add rental car reimbursement to your auto policy

If you’re not sure whether or not you already have rental reimbursement coverage as part of your policy, check your car insurance declarations page. Your dec page, usually found on the front of your car insurance policy, summarizes all of your coverages and their reimbursement limits. Your dec page will also say whether or not you have rental car reimbursement coverage, and how much you’re covered for if you do.

If you don’t already have it, adding rental car reimbursement coverage should be an easy switch and won’t add much to your premiums — get in touch with your insurance provider if you’re interested in adding it to your policy.