Who is Responsible if You Get Into an Accident Driving a Rental Car?

Let’s face it: most consumers do not closely read the rental car contract when renting a car, whether for business or pleasure. Depending on the circumstances and the type of insurance that the consumer has in place or chooses to purchase, there are different levels of liability for any injuries or damages that occur.

First, most car rental companies offer an optional damage waiver to consumers, which typically costs about $30 per day for a regular SUV. When renters forgo these waivers, they, along with any other authorized drivers, are liable for any damage to the rental car, whether it is caused by an accident, misconduct, or intentional behavior. However, liability in this circumstance is limited to the reasonable cost of repairs or fair market value of the car, whichever is less, as well as actual and reasonable towing and storage costs. Even if an unauthorized driver or third party causes the damages, you still may be liable if you leave the key in the car, fail to make a police report, or fail to cooperate with police in providing information.

In some cases, however, your personal auto insurance policy may provide coverage for the rental car you are driving. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, it is likely that the limits and deductibles for that policy will still apply to damage to a rental car. This type of insurance, however, does not cover the “loss-of-use” that the rental car company experiences. Additionally, personal insurance policies are not likely to cover cars rented in foreign countries.

Certain credit cards also may offer you rental car damage coverage if you use them for renting the car. This coverage may be helpful in filling the gaps in your other forms of coverage. For example, if you have personal auto insurance coverage, the credit card coverage might fill in where you have to pay a deductible. In many such credit card policies, covered losses include physical damage to or theft of the vehicle, valid loss-of-use charges, and reasonable towing charges.

When a motor vehicle accident occurs for any reason, and causes injury to a passenger or driver of another vehicle, the injured individual may have a claim for damages under Wisconsin law. However, the involvement of a rental car in your accident can make your claim a little bit more complicated. Since it may take some time to sort these matters out, and you only have a limited timeframe in which to a file a personal injury claim, you should take immediate action to get legal help. Don’t delay in calling the Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan in order to set up your free consultation today.