Thousands of people drive rental cars in Florida each day. The rental car industry is massive—Enterprise Holdings¹ alone has 649,000 vehicles in their fleet. Inevitably, some of these cars are going to be involved in accidents.
If you’re in an accident while driving a rental car, you may have a lot of questions like:
- Who is responsible for rental car in an accident?
- Will the other person’s insurance pay for a rental car?
- Will at-fault insurance pay for rental cars?
- Someone hit my rental car—what should I do now?
- How do I get my car accident rental car payments?
Here are answers to your questions from our car accident attorneys about what to do if you’re in an accident while in a rental car.
Do You Need To Call the Police if You’re in an Accident While Driving a Rental Car?
Florida law requires you to call the police if you’re in an accident with physical injuries or apparent property damage of $500 or more. That’s almost any accident. The law applies to accidents involving rental cars.
Failing to call the police after an accident in a rental car may result in criminal charges. It also makes it harder to contest fault for the accident and make claims through insurance. Call the police promptly after an accident and ensure that anyone injured receives medical care.
Does My Florida PIP Insurance Cover an Accident in a Rental Car?
If you have PIP insurance², it covers an accident in a rental car. For Florida residents, that means having PIP insurance for your own vehicle covers you if you’re in a rental car accident. You may receive payment for medical expenses up to policy limits regardless of who is responsible for the accident.
Drivers who are out of state and rental car drivers who do not own personal vehicles may not have this type of coverage.
Is the Rental Car Company Liable for an Accident?
A rental car company is not liable for an accident just because they are the rental car company. Law 49 U.S.C. § 30106³ states that a party engaged in the business of renting vehicles is not legally liable just because they are the owner of the car.
A rental car agency may verify that you have a valid license, but they don’t run a criminal background check or access your driving record before renting you a vehicle. It’s unlikely that the rental car company will pay damages, except through supplemental insurance coverage that you may have selected when you completed the rental process.
What Legal Liability Standards Apply to Florida Rental Car Accidents?
Florida no-fault car accident laws apply to accidents involving rental vehicles. That means that PIP insurance covers your own medical bills without regard to fault. In order to cover damage to someone else’s property, drivers need property damage liability coverage.
For Florida drivers, your own insurance applies when you’re in a rental car. No-fault laws apply, too. A victim may bring a claim against a negligent party if they have injuries that meet a threshold of severity. (Florida law § 627.737⁴).
If the other driver is negligent, the right to compensation is no different than it is in other car accident claims. You may be able to recover damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Does My Personal Car Insurance Apply if I’m in a Rental Car Accident?
Personal car insurance often—but not always—applies if you’re in a rental car accident. It depends on the state where you have your personal policy and the type of coverage that you have.
Your personal car insurance can be a welcome relief when you’re in an accident in a rental car. You may have bodily injury coverage as well as collision and comprehensive that extends to your rental car. Collision and comprehensive may take the place of a collision damage waiver when there is damage to the rental car.
What Insurance Policies May Cover a Rental Car Accident?
Look at all the following sources for insurance coverage following a rental car accident:
- Coverage you elected from the rental car company (bodily injury or a collision damage waiver)
- Your own personal car insurance
- Bodily injury liability
- Property damage liability
- Collision and comprehensive
- Coverage from a credit card (usually a collision damage waiver)
- An at-fault driver’s car insurance
Investigate these policies following an accident and whether you need to work with the rental car company regarding the damaged vehicle.
What Is a Collision Damage Waiver for a Rental Car Accident?
When you’re in an accident in a rental car, the rental car company is going to want their vehicle repaired. They may come after you to pay them for the cost of repairs. However, if you opted for a collision damage waiver, the rental company doesn’t require you to pay them for the damaged vehicle.
If you have collision and comprehensive in your personal auto policy, you shouldn’t need the collision damage waiver from the rental company. In addition, some credit cards provide a collision damage waiver, also called a loss damage waiver, if you use their card to pay for your rental car agreement.
What Should You Do After an Accident In a Rental Car?
Determining fault in a car accident involving a rental car is important for your legal rights. It’s vital for compensation, traffic tickets, and your driving record. Be sure to gather evidence that’s available at the scene. Take all the same steps that you would take after any other accident, such as getting the other driver’s:
- License number
- Insurance details
- Contact information
In addition, take down the names and contact information for anyone else involved as well as witnesses. Take photos with your phone or a camera. Recording the evidence can put you in the best position to enforce your rights and fight for the compensation that you deserve.
Attorneys for Car Accidents Involving Rental Cars
If you have been in an accident involving a rental car, our car accident attorneys can help. A car accident claim may be especially complex when a rental car is involved. But remember, you have important rights. The Bernstein & Maryanoff team can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your claim.
¹Adamson, B. (December 2017). Enterprise Fleet Management. Enterprise Holdings. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
²Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Florida Insurance Requirements. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
³49 U.S. Code § 30106
⁴FLA. STAT. § 627.737 (2021)