How to get a rental car from an insurance claim

Here’s how to get a rental car from an insurance claim after an accident and what to do to make sure you're covered.

Andrew Hurst

By

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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By

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Certified Financial Planner

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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If you're involved in a crash and your car is damaged, you can use insurance to get a temporary rental car after an accident. Depending on who was at fault for the damage to your vehicle, you’ll either make a claim with your own car insurance or the other driver's company.

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If your car's damage wasn't your fault, you can make a claim with the responsible driver's liability insurance to cover a rental car. If you were responsible, or if there are delays with the other driver's insurer, you can make a claim with your own insurer if you have rental car coverage.

Key takeaways

  • Insurance may cover the cost of a rental car if you're involved in an accident, but whether the crash was your fault or not impacts how you get a temporary vehicle.

  • If the other driver is at fault, their liability coverage would pay for the cost of a rental car while your regular vehicle is repaired.

  • When you're responsible for your vehicle's damage, you'll have to pay for a rental car yourself unless you have a policy with rental car reimbursement coverage.

  • Most major insurance companies offer rental car reimbursement, and it's not very expensive to add coverage.

Can you get a rental car after an accident from insurance?

Yes, if your car is in the shop after an accident you may be able to get a rental car from either your insurer or another driver's insurance company, depending on who was responsible for the damage. You will have to make a claim with the other driver's liability coverage, or use your own rental car reimbursement coverage to cover the cost of renting a vehicle.

If you make a successful claim with the other driver's insurance company, their insurance company would reimburse you for the cost of your rental car. If you have to file a claim with your own car insurance company, your rental reimbursement coverage will cover you up to your policy's limit. Rental reimbursement coverage usually comes with a per-day limit and a per-claim maximum. For instance, your coverage might pay for $40 per day, up to a maximum of $1,000. You would pay for any expenses after that yourself.

Unlike liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you're not required to get insurance that pays for a rental car. This means that you will only be able to get a rental car after an accident from your own insurance company if you chose to add rental car reimbursement to your policy.

→ Learn what steps to take if you're in an accident

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

The process of getting a rental car after an accident depends on who was at fault. If you're in an accident caused by another driver, you should:

  1. File a claim with the other driver's insurance company: Make sure to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, then submit a claim with their car insurance provider to get a rental car after an accident. At this point, you'll have to wait for fault to be determined.

  2. Decide whether to use your own insurance: If you can't wait for fault to be determined, you can either go through your own car insurance company for a rental car (as long as you have rental car reimbursement coverage) or rent a car on your own. 

  3. Receive reimbursement for your rental: When the other driver's insurance provider determines that they were at fault, the costs of a rental car may be one of the expenses that the insurer has to pay for, along with your medical bills and costs of repairing your property. If you paid for a rental car yourself, the at-fault driver's insurance provider would still reimburse you after the fact.

Alternatively, if the accident was your fault, you will need to have rental car reimbursement coverage in order for a temporary vehicle to be covered by insurance. In this case, you can decide to bill your rental car directly to your insurer or pay for the car upfront and have your insurer reimburse you later. 

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. However, you should remember that your insurance provider will only reimburse you up to your coverage limits. 

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How long will insurance pay for a rental car after an accident?

 It depends. Using your own policy, you will only be able to keep your rental up to the limit of your policy. Your insurer may cover your daily expenses (not including your fuel costs and security deposit) for $1,000, meaning a car that costs $50 per day to rent could be yours for 20 days. 

On the other hand, you may sue the responsible driver for your total expenses (up to the limit of their liability coverage) if you weren't at fault for the crash that damaged your car. This doesn't mean that you should rent the most expensive car available if your regular vehicle was damaged by someone else, though. By renting an extravagant car you don't normally drive, you risk your claim not being accepted.

How to add rental car reimbursement to your auto policy

It's easy to add an endorsement for rental car reimbursement coverage to your auto insurance. Most of the largest insurance companies, including State Farm, GEICO, Progressive, and others, allow you to purchase rental car reimbursement. Also, the cost of the coverage is usually cheap — typically much less than $100 per year.

While no state or insurance company makes you get rental reimbursement coverage, it can be good idea to purchase the extra protection. 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. But if you're someone who usually has enough money set aside for emergencies, you may be able to skip rental reimbursement coverage and just pay out of pocket if the need arises.

To add rental car reimbursement endorsement to your policy, you can contact your insurance provider and ask the company to adjust your coverage.

You won't need to wait for your policy's renewal date to add more coverage, either. Instead, after you select your coverage limits (a maximum of $1,000 per claim, for example) and add rental car reimbursement to your auto insurance, your insurer will bill you for the remainder of time your policy is in effect.

Can you add rental car insurance after an accident?

If you decide to add rental car insurance to your policy, you have to do so before you're involved in an accident in order to get covered. While you can still purchase rental car reimbursement coverage after a crash, it wouldn't provide coverage for an accident that's already happened.

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Frequently asked questions

Can you rent a car from any company after an accident?

Generally, yes. While your auto insurance company may have a partnership with one rental car agency, you're allowed to rent your car from any company after an accident. One benefit to choosing to use your insurer's partnering agency is the ability to avoid paying an upfront cost that your insurer would later reimburse you for. If you use your insurer's partner, the rental company would bill your agency directly.

Do you need insurance for a rental car?

While you can purchase extra liability coverage or collision damage protection for a rental car, it's not necessary. The rental agency has to provide enough liability for you to drive legally. Your regular car insurance, and in some cases, your credit card, extends some protection to any rental car you drive.

What happens if you crash your rental car?

If you crash your rental car, your course of action would closely resemble the claim process you'd go through if you were to cause damage to your own car. After crashing your rental car, you should contact the rental car company for the best course of action. You will have to exchange personal and insurance information with the other drivers involved in the crash. The rental company may then require you to fill out an incident report and to document the crash. You would also have to contact your insurance company to ensure that any physical damage claims for the damage to the car itself would be covered.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Expert reviewer

Certified Financial Planner

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Certified Financial Planner

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Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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