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I’ve Had an Accident — Can I Get a Car Rental Reimbursement?

A young Caucasian male sitting on the driver's seat of a car receives the car keys from the rental agent to illustrate whether insurance will cover a car rental

Getting into an accident is bad enough. If your vehicle is now too badly damaged to drive, you’ve got one more thing to worry about: how will you get to work, school and run your errands? The answer to whether you can get a rental depends on several different factors, including the city and state you live in, who is considered to be the at-fault driver and what type of vehicle insurance you carry. Let’s take a look at different scenarios.

Will My Policy Cover a Rental After an Accident?

If you have rental reimbursement as part of your policy, then yes, if you need it after a covered event. If you’ve been in an accident that was not your fault, the at-fault driver’s liability should provide you a temporary means of transportation.

It’s uncommon for most policies to include rental reimbursement coverage since it is considered an optional add-on. Like comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, most people who own their vehicles can elect to carry it or not. Those who are financing or leasing will likely be required to carry comprehensive and collision. In some cases, rental reimbursement is automatically part of this type of policy. In other cases, you may not be able to purchase it separately, but only in conjunction with full coverage (comprehensive plus collision plus liability).

 To avoid any unpleasant surprises when you need this most, it’s a good idea to check with your agent.

How Much Does it Cost?

The good thing is that this is generally a low-cost addition to a policy – sometimes as low as $2 a month. If you don’t already have it, it’s worth taking a moment to evaluate the benefits of adding it. This is bargain when you consider that the average time it takes to repair a car is about two weeks, which means the rental cost can quickly add up to $500 or more if the accident was your fault.

How Does it Work?

In most cases, you have some choices when it comes to using this protection. Your insurer likely has some contracts in place for rental companies in your area, city or state. If you choose to use one of those to rent a vehicle while your own is in the shop for a covered loss, you can typically skip using your own credit card to start the process.

If, however, you want to use a company that you choose – or alternatively, rent from a friend or family member, you’ll either have to use your own credit card or pay with money or a check and get reimbursed from your insurer.

When Can I Use Rental Car Reimbursement?

If you’ve included this type of product in your auto policy, you should know there are some guidelines for when you can use it and for how long. First, this benefit can only be used for a covered claim. A covered claim may include:

  • Collision from an accident (regardless of who is at fault)
  • Hail damage after a storm
  • Fire
  • Damage that occurs after theft
  • Vandalism

When you can use this product is limited to covered claims. However, the length of time you can use it for (daily limit), as well as how much money is available on a per day basis, are levels you can choose when you include it in your policy. For example, you may have choices between $25 per day with a $750 maximum or something much larger, such as $100 per day with a $3,000 maximum.

Of course, the higher the daily limit the more the premium. There is no deductible for this product.

Man using credit card to rent a car online

What Does Rental Reimbursement Cover?

It covers transportation expenses if your vehicle has been disabled due to a covered accident and is in the shop for repairs. Surprisingly, this type of policy will reimburse you if you need to pay a friend for using their auto or if you choose to use public transportation, such as the bus or subway. It’s not only for using a rental vehicle. If you live in a city or state where other transportation means are available, it also covers:

  • Ride share services
  • Taxis
  • Commuter trains and light rail

What is Not Covered?

This product pays for alternate transportation when your own ride is in the shop for repairs after a covered event. It does not pay out when your vehicle is in the shop for routine maintenance or in cases where your vehicle is in the body shop or repair shop for an extended period of time due to negligence or an event outside of what is considered a covered claim.

Is This the Same Thing as Rental Car Insurance?

No. Rental insurance is a product you are offered by the rental company when you rent a vehicle. Typically, this would be something you be paying on top of your personal liability, which covers you when you are driving a rental. In most cases, you do not need to purchase the rental car insurance, but every situation is different. You should speak to your agent for more information if you have questions.

How Much is the Cost of a Rental Car?

In Atlanta, the average cost is $50-$85 per day. In Las Vegas, it’s $47-$78 daily. New York City drivers may pay anywhere from $68-$111. You can see how two-weeks with your wheels in the repair shop may quickly add up to somewhere between $700 and $1,500 or more.

If you are the at-fault driver in an accident and you do not have rental car reimbursement, you will be responsible for renting an automobile if yours is in the shop. Your liability alone will not protect you and the cost of a rental has skyrocketed.

The city and state you live in has something to do with the cost of a rental, as well as the type of vehicle. For example, in Los Angeles, CA, the average daily cost is anywhere from $29 a day at Hertz all the way up to $64 per day at Turo.

The least expensive include economy cars, with intermediate or compact models next, such as the, followed by standard models, such as the Hyundai Sonata, and last, luxury automobiles.

Do I Need Rental Reimbursement?

Adding it to a policy is a good idea even for the most confident drivers. Often, good drivers will choose to skip on this simply to pay the lowest possible premium. However, even if the accident is not their fault, the carrier of the driver at fault can take days to make arrangements for a rental.

If you have rental reimbursement, your insurer will typically expedite the process to avoid having you pay the initial rental cost out of your pocket. Later, after fault has been determined, the at-fault driver’s carrier should provide compensation to you or your insurer. If you are using your auto for work-related driving, you cannot afford to be without it.

Get Affordable Rental Car Reimbursement Online Today

If you’re looking for a plan that can cover rental reimbursement, check out Freeway. Freeway gathers plans from a wide assortment of insurers to get you an affordable plan that meets all of your needs. Get a free car insurance quote today or call (800) 777-5620. You are also welcome to stop by one of our convenient locations.

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