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The Basics of Rental Car Insurance and Liability

Americans love to travel, especially now that we’ve reached the heart of summer.The first stop for many visitors once they get to their destination is the rental car kiosk at the airport. No matter which dealer you go through, you will almost certainly be asked whether or not you want to purchase rental insurance. Most people see this merely as an “upsell”–indeed, a recent study found that 8 percent of the entire industry’s revenue comes from these sales. However, it can certainly come in handy down the road. 

Most rental car contracts–at least the ones we’ve come across–hold the renter expressly responsible for damages sustained to the vehicle, regardless of who caused it. Therefore, by purchasing rental insurance, you can protect yourself from having to pay steep repair or total replacement costs if an accident does occur. 

Is Rental Insurance Required? Are There Other Coverages? 

Sometimes renters don’t even need to purchase dedicated rental insurance because they are covered by their personal automobile insurance policy. A good percentage of policies already extend coverage to the policyholder when a rental car is being used. However, this obviously varies widely depending on the insurer as well as the state, so it’s best to go through your policy details or call your agent to double-check before your rent. 

Another lesser-known option for rental coverage is actually available through your credit card company. Most major card companies will include coverage if you pay for the rental using their brand of card. Broadly speaking, card companies offer secondary coverage, meaning that they will only cover any remaining costs that your personal car insurance policy will not. Additionally, most of these secondary policies are designed to replace the coverage offered by the rental company, not add to it. So, in other words, if your card company offers coverage, you should consider using it instead of purchasing separate insurance that will override it. 

Lastly, you can also purchase a dedicated rental policy from a specialized renters’ insurer. In most cases, these policies are cheaper and more flexible than what is offered at the rental counter. However, most people view this as unnecessary, especially if they don’t use rentals very often. 

Is There a Minimum Amount of Coverage I Need to Purchase?

State laws regarding minimum coverages vary. For our purposes, we will use our HQ state Nevada as an example. In Nevada, all car owners must carry a minimum of $15,000 for injuries or death to one person, $30,000 for two people (same accident), and at least $10,000 for property damages. Most rental companies in the state offer more than minimum coverage, although again, you should always check or ask. The last thing you want to do with regards to rentals is assume anything. 

When determining the amount of coverage you want, you should consider medical expenses first before property damages. Even mild medical attention can blow past the limits of rental and standalone policies. At the end of the day, it really is up to you as far as what level of risk you’re willing to accept–just remember that the higher the coverage, the higher the costs. 

What Happens if a Car Hits Me? 

With regards to car accident liability, litigation will differ depending on state law, specifically whether the state is classified as a “fault” or “no-fault” jurisdiction. “Fault” states (such as Nevada) enable accident victims to collect compensation directly from the guilty party after a crash, whereas “no-fault” states require victims to go through their own insurer first before pursuing a claim. If you’re travelling to a new state and plan on renting, it’s a good idea to ask either your personal agent or the renter’s agent about your destination’s laws. 

Speak With Rental Car and Car Accident Attorneys Now 

If you’ve suffered injuries in any kind of car accident, whether it involves personal cars, rentals, or rideshares, consider contacting Van Law Firm as soon as possible. As the best rental car and car accident attorneys in the country, we will do everything possible to recreate the accident, argue your case, and recover full compensation. With over 500 5-star reviews online, you won’t want to go anywhere else. Call our office nearest you now for more information.