Rental car accidents are inevitable in the travel industry, and many safety devices have been created to make rental cars safer for vacationers who decide to rent a car. Even so, a car accident, when rented, is still extremely dangerous and happens far too often. In the United States: There is a car accident every 15 seconds. Worldwide, 1.2 million people die every year in traffic accidents.

These numbers are staggering, and sadly, we see the results of auto accidents (major and minor) every day here at Abogado Contigo. If you have been in an uninsured rental car accident, it is always in your best interest to contact an experienced auto accident attorney to discuss your claim.

What does your personal auto insurance cover?

Insurance that covers your own car is the first line of protection to cover a rented vehicle. Never drive without insurance in California, period, and it’s a good idea to maintain auto insurance in all other states as well. This gives you basic liability coverage for minor damage you might cause to others during an accident with a rental car. If you don’t own a car and therefore don’t have auto insurance, you can and should purchase a term or annual insurance policy from an insurance company. Such a policy must be reasonably priced.

To protect a rental vehicle, your personal insurance must also have collision coverage (covering damage to your own vehicle due to an accident with another vehicle or object or rollover) and/or comprehensive coverage (covering damage to your vehicle caused by causes other than the collision, such as fire, theft, vandalism, flooding, falling branches, etc.). Third Party CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance is additional insurance offered to someone who rents a vehicle.

If you have any of these coverages, check the fine print to find out exactly what the coverage consists of, or call one of your insurance company’s customer service representatives and ask for the specific details of your policy.

Does the collision damage waiver also cover third parties?

Car rental companies offer a wide variety of alternatives to secure a rental car. There are insurances that it is necessary to take out, and others that are optional, depending on the use that we are going to give the vehicle, the budget that we have and the personal peace of mind that we need when driving a rental car.

There are a few main causes of these accidents:

  • Not making sure the rental car is in good condition.
  • Drink alcohol or use drugs before driving.
  • Driving too fast.
  • Not respecting pedestrians.
  • Not sleeping well before you are about to drive.
  • Not keeping a safe distance from the vehicle that precedes you.
  • Using your cell phone or anything that might distract you while driving.
  • Ignorance of local traffic laws.
  • Not knowing the environment.

What to do after a rental car accident?

In the event of an accident, it is essential that you immediately contact the rental company. They will guide you in the steps to follow as to how you should deal with the accident and contact the authorities depending on the severity of the incident.

It is the client’s right to receive another car with similar characteristics to the previous rental -according to availability- when the damaged vehicle cannot be driven safely. In turn, at its discretion, the rental agency may refuse to provide a replacement car and terminate the rental agreement if there is evidence that the damage to the vehicle was due to misuse by the renter or if it breached any of the the rental conditions (driving on unpaved roads, driving under the influence of prohibited substances, etc.).

To make the insurance coverage effective, keep in mind that it is mandatory to deliver the accident and/or police report to the lessee. It is also good to know if the roadside assistance fee is included in the price, unless otherwise explicitly stated in the rental conditions.

Read a detailed article on what to do after being involved in a car accident or as a passenger in a crash.

Do I need a police report?

Having a police report after a rental car accident is one of the most important pieces of information you will need when dealing with major or minor damage to a rental car. This report can be a powerful asset in any claim you wish to file with your insurance company, and a police report will state the facts of the event and determine who was at fault. Be sure to ask for a copy of the report after the police officer files it.

Additional insurance of the credit card with which you paid

It is important to know that different car rental companies can put special codes on their insurance, but there are three main codes to keep in mind:

  • stolen vehicle
  • crashes
  • Damages from or to third parties

The credit card used to pay for a rental car may also have additional insurance protection. However, that additional insurance only covers collisions and theft of the vehicle, and does not cover damage to third parties, which is important to know because the value of an accident can far exceed the value of the car in the event of theft or total loss.

Third party liability insurance covers accidents involving other people, whether they are drivers or pedestrians. In addition, there are special conditions for credit card insurance coverage, such as that they do not cover certain luxury cars and cars can only have a maximum of eight seats. Details of a credit card’s insurance coverage can be verified by reading the Visa or MasterCard conditions on their website.

Can a car rental company be liable?

Although most of the cars are rented with coverage without excess and will protect you in different eventualities, under certain circumstances you can be left without coverage. An example of this is if after an accident it is found that you have driven under the influence of alcohol or prohibited substances. In this case, no insurance will cover the damage and the renter will be charged the full amount of the damage.

Other damages that are not covered by the insurance are the supply of the car with inadequate fuel, the loss of the keys and, in general, all those that may come from manifest negligence on the part of the contract holder. If a rental company is proven guilty of renting a car with mechanical problems, it can be held liable for damages if you file a lawsuit.

The worst car rental companies

One study found that the top three brands for overall satisfaction among car renters were:

  • business
  • National
  • Alamo and Hertz (tied)

The same study showed that the three worst rated companies are:

  • dollar
  • Thrifty
  • Budget

So how do you find the right car rental company?

To get started, you should read all of the fine print in the rental agreement and know what taxes you are expected to pay. Also request that they give you the type of car you requested or give you a free upgrade, and avoid useless add-ons like prepaid gas.

Finally, think about whether you really need to rent a car. After considering the extras involved, such as parking fees, fuel, and valet tips, you can opt for public transportation.

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