Most of us know what to do when our vehicle is involved in a car accident. However, the steps to follow may not be quite so clear if we get into an accident driving a rental car.
For the most part, many of the same things apply in a rental car as they do for your personal vehicle. For example, you will want to make sure that anyone injured is being taken care of, or that an ambulance is on the way to assist.
You will also want to make sure to move your rental car out of the way of traffic, take pictures of the damage, exchange information with the other driver, call the police, request an accident report and, if feasible, take down names and contact information of any witnesses present.
The At-Fault Party
As with any car accident, the at-fault party will be held responsible. Therefore, the at-fault driver’s insurance is required to cover the cost of the rental car’s repairs. The same holds true for any injuries resulting from the car accident. Whether or not you feel injured at the time of the accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a doctor can confirm that you are okay.
It’s important to note that frequently the costs associated with car accident injuries exceed auto insurance caps. If this is the case, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You may be eligible for compensation for any medical bills, lost wages and damages incurred in an auto accident. Even if you were injured while driving a rental car, if the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, it may be in your best interest to initiate a personal injury claim.
Sometimes, the at-fault party is uninsured. That’s why it is important for every driver to carry uninsured/underinsured insurance. While Indiana requires a minimum of $50,000 for uninsured/underinsured insurance, car accident injury costs can easily exceed that amount. Talk to your insurance provider to see if it is a good idea to add more coverage.
Substitute Vehicle Coverage
Before renting a vehicle, it is important to confirm with your regular car insurance provider that you have substitute vehicle coverage. This will ensure that any rental vehicle you book has the same coverage as your personal vehicle.
Using the Rental Company’s Insurance
Even if personal insurance offers substitute vehicle coverage, it may be worth considering adding the rental company’s insurance options. This could protect you from having to pay large deductibles to your own insurance company in the event of an accident. Additionally, rental car insurance can keep your regular insurance premiums from spiking as a result of an accident.
Adding a Collision Damage/Loss Waiver
Occasionally, rental car companies are not able to rent out vehicles involved in accidents because they have to be repaired. To cover these costs, rental car and insurance companies offer damage and loss waivers to drivers. Without the waiver, the rental car company may try to hold drivers responsible for loss of revenue while the car is being fixed (this is known as “loss of use”). This may include charging a daily fee for the vehicle while it remains under repair. Fees can be as high as the normal rental rate.
Many people who have substitute vehicle coverage with their own insurance providers opt to take the collision damage waiver (CDW) or collision loss waiver (CLW) for the reasons described above. However, many recommend that drivers avoid taking the additional coverage of CDW/CLW. It is best to consult with your own insurance company before accepting or declining CDW/CLW coverage.
For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.