Rental Car Accidents

Rental Car Accidents

Being involved in a car accident can be difficult no matter which driver is at fault. All drivers should obtain auto insurance policies that cover their liability in car accidents as required by Mississippi state law. Due to rising costs and other factors, many drivers purchase additional coverages for their personal vehicles. However, when rental car accidents occur, regardless of fault, renters may wonder who will be responsible for the damages. If you have been involved in a car accident in Mississippi and suffered injuries or damages, consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney with Lott Law by calling (228) 215-2787 to get help navigating the claims process.

Purchasing Insurance Coverage for Rental Cars

Most drivers looking to rent a car for personal use will not need to purchase additional insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a driver’s personal insurance policy will generally cover an accident in a rental car that has been rented for personal rather than business use. 

Important:  Drivers who are planning to rent a car should look closely at their own current coverage to determine the values available for rental car accidents. They may also want to review the coverages available from their credit card company when renting a car using the card. 

Beyond the driver’s own insurance policies, available coverages may differ depending on the type of rental—traditional, car sharing, or peer-to-peer. With traditional car rentals, the rental fee will include the standard minimum liability coverage. However, several additional coverages may be offered, including a loss damage waiver (LDW) and personal accident insurance. Renters may choose these additional coverages if their own insurance does not provide satisfactory protection. 

What To Do if Your Rental Car Is Involved in an Accident

Regardless of the driver’s insurance coverage and the type of vehicle he or she is driving, the basic steps to take after a car crash are the same. However, rental car accidents involve at least one additional step. If your rental car is involved in a collision:

  • Make sure all drivers and passengers are safe
  • Call emergency services if there are injuries or medical conditions that need attention
  • Exchange names, addresses, registration numbers, insurance company names, and driverʼs license numbers for the drivers 
  • Note the time, date, and location of the accident 
  • Record the road conditions; the year, make, and model of the vehicles; all visible damage and injuries; and your version of what happened 
  • Include a diagram of the scene in your notes 
  • Take pictures of the vehicles and the scene, including any road signs or visibility obstructions 
  • Get names and addresses for any witnesses 
  • Contact the car rental company and follow required procedures
  • Contact your own insurance company about the rental car accident
  • Find out who is at fault for the accident 

Because Mississippi is a fault state regarding car accidents, one party will be found at fault for the collision. That party will then be responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the crash. 

Whose Insurance Will Cover a Rental Car Accident?

When a rental car is involved in an automobile accident, the parties must consider several important factors to determine not only the responsible party but also the insurance company or companies that will pay the damages. A personal injury attorney from Lott Law may be able to help distinguish primary insurance coverage from secondary coverage in order to file a claim. 

Primary insurance is the first to kick in if a driver files a claim. Some policies offer complete coverage for any accident, which pays damages for the rental car and the other car if the rental car driver is determined to be at fault. Secondary coverage can pay fees and charges that the primary policy does not cover, which may include reimbursing the deductible. 

The Rental Car Company’s Insurance

Mississippi drivers do not need to purchase additional rental car insurance. The rental car company must have a policy that provides the state-required minimum liability coverage. According to the Mississippi Insurance Department, that coverage includes $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $25,000 per accident for property damage. This minimum, however, may not be enough to cover all damages from rental car accidents.

The Driver’s Auto Insurance

Many drivers have personal car insurance policies with liability limits above the minimum requirements. They may also add collision and comprehensive coverage to their policies. Although they are originally meant to cover personal vehicles, these additional protections extend to rental cars and can serve as primary insurance for rental car accidents. A driver’s personal car insurance company may, then, cover over and above what the rental company’s basic policy covers. 

The Credit Card Company’s Rental Insurance

When selecting a credit card to use as a payment method for renting a car, it is important to research coverages that the credit card company may provide if an accident occurs. Depending on the terms of the credit card agreement, the company may automatically provide coverage for damage involving a rental car. This coverage is generally secondary to a driver’s personal auto insurance.

If a card offers primary insurance coverage, the driver will generally need to decline a loss damage waiver (LDW) or similar coverage offered by the car rental company. The coverage will otherwise be secondary.

The Other Driver’s Insurance

If the driver of the rental car was not at fault, that driver will need to pay the insurance deductible to the rental company in order to expedite repairs on the vehicle. The driver’s insurance company will then contact the responsible party’s insurance company for payment of damages, which may result in a reimbursement.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Help Today

When a driver needs to rent a car, whether to go on vacation or to use as temporary daily transportation, it is important to research the available insurance coverages. If there are only minimal provisions for rental car coverage, the driver can adjust his or her primary insurance policy or purchase additional secondary policies. Rental car accidents can happen to anyone, so drivers must ensure their financial protection. If you or a loved one has been injured in a rental car accident, consider contacting a knowledgeable personal injury attorney from Lott Law by calling (228) 215-2787 to schedule a consultation.