We’ve all heard that it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Most people only choose to be safe after they’ve been sorry once, only because they wonder “what’s the worst that could happen?”
To help you understand the importance of getting car rental damage insurance, we’ve decided to show you the worst-case scenario. Keep reading to find out what happens if you get into an accident in an uninsured rental car.
In all honesty, getting into a car accident isn’t as likely as you think. However, it’s not as unlikely as you think either. According to experts, the average person has an auto accident every 18 years or so of their life. Therefore, it’s very possible that you or someone you know could have an accident in a rental car.
If you’re in a rental car, you’re probably on a business or pleasure trip. As such, you probably have better things to do than worry about what will happen if you get into an accident, and in a rental car no less. Luckily, we’ve decided to do the worrying for you so you know exactly what to expect in your situation.
Get the lowdown
First things first, we need to be asking the right questions in the right order. Are you hurt? Are any other people hurt? If yes and no one has called a paramedic, you must do that first. Next, has anyone called the police? An accident report, while sometimes a pain to work through, will strengthen your case. Make sure you have a copy of it. This will help you prove whether you are eligible for certain clauses of your insurance.
You need to put your detective skills to work and gather all relevant information. This means making notes of the event, collecting all details, and taking pictures and videos. Of course, you should let the professionals do their job. But if you stay involved in the process, you won’t have any nasty surprises in the end. You need to be on top of the numbers before the numbers get a chance to be on top of you.
There is no “I” in “team”
“In union, there is strength”- Aesop. It is in everyone’s best interest that they work together to share information. This is so that the incident can be resolved as smoothly as possible. After the accident, you must share your details with everyone involved and get their details as well. These can include names, contact numbers, addresses, car registrations, and insurance details. This will ensure that all concerned parties have a channel they can follow to make their claims.
However, here is where the procedure for dealing with rental and personal car accidents starts to differ. As soon as it is possible, you must call your car rental company and tell them about the details of the situation. They will advise you what steps you need to take next. The company may arrange for the car to be towed, or you will have to get it either towed or drop it off at the rental car company office yourself. You must do this as soon as possible so that there is no hassle later on.
Now if you have no primary or supplementary insurance, you may have to pay for all of the damages yourself. The bills for these can mount up to tens of thousands of dollars if you are at fault for the accident. If you are not at fault, the rental car company may sometimes resolve everything on its own with the insurance company of the person at fault. On the other hand, they may just charge your credit card and then you will have to deal with the liable party yourself for reimbursement.
What am I paying for?
Now to break down the bill. The amount of money you will have to pay the rental car company depends on the kind of fees they will charge you. Of course, these are on top of the damages you would pay for the accident anyway. Normally, renters who are in an accident are liable to pay three kinds of fees.
- Loss-of-use- this is when the car has been damaged and so is out of use. Every day the rental car spends being fixed or sits in the repair shop, the company is losing money. This is because they aren’t able to make revenue off of it by renting it out.
- Diminished value- just like refurbished goods lose value, so do cars. It doesn’t matter even if they look as good as new, they’re not new. Rental car companies may charge you some amount as compensation for this. However, the amount will depend on the individual case.
- Administrative fees- these include the processing fee for the claim. This may also include costs like the towing fees if it applies.
But wait! There is a silver lining. If you have even some form of insurance, be it auto insurance, credit card insurance, or state-minimum liability insurance, you may not have to most of the cost of damages. Perhaps you may not have to pay any money at all. How?
Car rental insurance
All car insurance is not created equal. There may be primary or secondary rental car insurance. This is very individual. Maybe you have full coverage insurance, maybe you only have the state minimum liability. You can find out where you stand by going through your auto or credit card insurance or calling your providers and confirming. The more coverage you have, the less amount of damages you will have to pay.
The coverage limit (this is the maximum amount of damages the company will cover. You will have to cover any costs on top of this if they exist) and the deductible (the minimum amount of money you have to pay, after which the company will cover the rest of the cost) will play a part in determining how much money you end up paying. Be sure to double-check this, since we often have overlapping insurance coverage that we have no idea about.
Some primary auto insurance extends to rental cars. In that case, you will probably be covered for collision and liability. This may also stand true if you have credit card coverage. However, you must make sure to pay with the credit card that has the coverage when paying for the rental to take advantage of this.
Collision Damage Waivers, that cover the entire cost of the damages in a collision, are given by the rental car company and offer the best coverage. However, they can be a little costly. While it is a good idea to have the maximum amount of coverage, that doesn’t mean you should say yes to every supplementary coverage the rental car company advises you. Chances are, you may not need most of them.
Be smart, stay safe
Some people say that it is better to have something and not need it than need something and not have it. This is true where car insurance is involved. It’s best to never take chances because the risk is often far greater than the reward of not having any rental car insurance. Make the best of your rental, stay insured. Happy driving!