Renting a Car After an Auto Accident: Who Pays & What to Know? | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
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A concise guide to help you understand how to rent a car after an accident, who covers the expenses, and how these costs are recouped via your personal injury claim.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
September 28, 2023

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Ohio where another driver is at fault, there’s a lot to navigate. Besides your injuries and pursuing a legal claim, you’ll likely wonder, “How am I supposed to get around while my car is being repaired?” In most cases, you may be able to rent a car for the interim, but doing so could add a layer of complication and possibly an added expense.

Here’s how to rent a car following an auto accident and what victims should be aware of when pursuing a personal injury claim:

Renting a Car After an Accident & Recouping the Cost

Following a car accident, it’s crucial to understand how the car rental process works, especially if your vehicle is damaged or not drivable.

First, Report the Accident

Before considering a rental, ensure the accident is reported correctly and get medical care for any injuries. Contact the local police, report the incident, and obtain a copy of the accident report. This will be crucial evidence to support your case and any claims you make, including the need for a rental car.

Contact the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance & Yours

Once you properly document your accident and get treatment, contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company immediately to initiate a claim. Inform them that your car is damaged and state that you’ll need a rental while it’s in the shop.

Once the claim is initiated, the insurance company may:

  • Pay for the Rental Directly: Some insurance carriers have relationships with certain rental car agencies and can set up direct billing, meaning the rental charges are directly billed to the insurance company.
  • Reimburse Your Out-of-Pocket Rental Costs: They might ask you to foot the bill first and then reimburse you later. In such cases, always ensure you keep all the receipts and paperwork.

You can also choose to contact your insurance company.  This may be a necessity if liability for your accident is disputed.  They may provide you with a rental car faster, but you might be responsible for the upfront costs. Your insurer might cover the rental car if you have collision comprehensive coverage or rental reimbursement coverage.

When going through your insurance, you’ll often pay for the rental car upfront. Your insurance will then subrogate or seek repayment from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Renting a Car Post-Car Accident

While some insurance companies have partnerships with specific rental agencies, which might streamline the process, you can choose any rental company you like. It’s usually wise to check online reviews or ask for recommendations to pick a reputable company.

Type of Rental Car

The at-fault driver’s insurance is usually obligated to provide you with a car similar in size and function to your damaged one. For instance, if you were driving an SUV, you shouldn’t be limited to renting a compact car.

While you’re entitled to a comparable vehicle, renting luxury cars or adding unnecessary features can be a point of contention. The insurance company may dispute reimbursing you for a rental if they feel the vehicle was excessive, given the circumstances.

How Long Can You Have the Rental?

The rental duration is typically determined by the repair time for your car. If the insurance company attempts to limit your rental period unreasonably, you must push back or consult your attorney.

Remember to keep open lines of communication with the insurance adjuster. If there are delays in your car’s repair, or if you face any issues with the rental, let them know immediately.

Paying for a Rental Car after an Accident

If the at-fault driver’s insurance accepts liability, they might reimburse you directly for the rental car expenses.  However, this can sometimes involve waiting periods or delays. Make sure to get written confirmation of this agreement. Also, keep track of all rental car receipts and paperwork.

Document the necessity for the rental, especially if the duration is longer due to complications in car repairs or disputed liability. There’s also usually a daily rate limit of what the insurance company will reimburse you for, so ensure the rental cost aligns with this rate to avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses.

If you decide to go through your insurance (given you have rental car coverage), you’ll likely pay upfront and get reimbursed later. Your insurer will then pursue the at-fault party’s insurance for compensation.

Recoup Rental Expenses in Your Settlement

When settling your personal injury insurance claim, the cost of the rental car is usually part of the total compensation sought. Your attorney will bundle this with other damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Know Your Rights & Recover the Max

You’re entitled to a comparable vehicle if your car was damaged in an accident caused by another’s negligence. Remember that you have rights if the at-fault driver’s insurance pushes back against providing a rental or only offers limited compensation. They are obligated to cover your expenses as long as they’re reasonable and necessary due to the accident.

You’re entitled to repairs that restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. This includes using OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts and ensuring that all safety features are intact and functional. You’re entitled to repairs that restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. This includes using OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts and ensuring that all safety features are intact and functional.

Tips to Recoup Rental Expenses

Insurance companies are businesses, after all. Sometimes, they may offer settlements that seem quicker and simpler but might not cover all your costs. A common way they may lowball you is by undervaluing what you paid for vehicle repairs and rental expenses.

Ensure your rights are respected:

  • Document Everything: The more evidence you have, the better. Keep every receipt, medical bill, repair estimate, and even take photographs of car damages and injuries.
  • Get Professional Estimates: For car repairs, get estimates from reputable shops. Consult with medical professionals to understand current and potential future medical costs for injuries.
  • Don’t Accept Right Away: If you feel an initial offer from the insurance company is too low, it’s your right to decline and negotiate a better settlement. Remember, once you accept an offer, you often can’t return and ask for more later.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If the insurance company tries to offer less than what you believe you’re entitled to, don’t hesitate to challenge them or consult an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Contact the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers at KNR for Help

Renting a car post-accident might seem straightforward , but there are several things to consider. Insurance companies have their interests, but you must focus on what’s best for you. By understanding what to expect, you can navigate this process effectively and ensure you’re not left stranded or financially burdened.

If you or a loved one were injured and need help with your insurance claim or renting a car, reach out to the car accident team with KNR. We will explain your options, collect the necessary documents, and recover the compensation you deserve.

Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free, no-risk consultation.