Who Pays for a Rental Car After an Accident?

The cost and hassle of dealing with a car accident is infuriating and confusing, especially if it wasn’t your fault. You’re left with immediate car repairs to cover and wondering how you’re going to get to work. The good news is, you have the right to a free rental car until yours is repaired, paid for by the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, insurers don’t often advertise that too clearly. 

How to Pay for a Rental Car

There are three potential options for how a rental car will be paid for when another party is at fault for your car accident. 

At-Fault Party’s Insurer Pays

This is the ideal situation, in which the insurance company has already accepted that their policyholder was at fault and will cover the cost upfront. The insurer can then do a “direct billing,” meaning you don’t get charged and the rental company sends the bill directly to the insurance company. 


Other times (more likely), you will have to pay upfront for the rental and then get reimbursed for the final amount. Keep in mind that an insurance company will only cover a rental until your vehicle is repaired, or until they issue you a check in a total loss situation. 

Rental Insurance

Often, the simplest way to pay for a rental car is to get one through your own insurance policy, but this can only be done if you have rental coverage. Your insurer will give you instructions on how to obtain the rental. Make sure to ask: 

  • How long your insurance policy will cover a rental car (typically 30 days);
  • If there is a limit on how much the vehicle can cost per day; and
  • If there is a mileage cap. 

Common Pitfalls

An insurer will not cover the full cost of a vehicle that is far superior to yours. For example, if you own a Honda Civic, then they will not pay for a Tesla X rental. If that were to occur, the insurer will pay the standard amount, and you will end up covering the difference. You are entitled to be provided a rental vehicle that is comparable to yours that is being repaired or is totaled. The key word is “comparable.” 

Another common pitfall, especially for individuals paying out-of-pocket, is keeping the rental vehicle after the applicable coverage period. As previously mentioned, an insurance company will only pay for the rental while your car is in the shop or until a check is issued for your totaled vehicle. If you don’t return the vehicle right away, you’ll risk not being reimbursed for those days. 

What About Rental Insurance?

If you have comprehensive car insurance coverage, you can safely decline the personal accident insurance that rental companies offer. Your insurer will cover you in the event of an accident. On the other hand, if you only have liability insurance, you may wish to purchase additional insurance from a rental company. Your liability policy will pay for damage to another vehicle, but will not cover the costs of repairing your rental car. The at-fault party’s insurer will not reimburse you for purchasing additional insurance. 

Speak to an Attorney

A Las Vegas auto accident lawyer can make all the difference in pressuring an insurance company to pay for your rental car upfront. Call Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers today at (702) 384-1414 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.  

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