You rented a car. You got into an accident. Whose insurance will cover the crash? How would a personal injury lawsuit play out? These are all very common questions for those who have ever been in an accident while driving a rented vehicle. Rental car accidents happen more frequently than individuals who are driving their own vehicles. Not only are they less familiar with how the vehicle handles, but they’re generally in areas that they don’t know well. In this article, we’ll discuss what happens if you’re in an accident driving a rental car.

Determining Liability in a Rental Car Accident

The determination of who is liable for an accident where a rental vehicle is involved is no different than a liability determination in a typical accident. What is different, is how the insurance works. 


If you don’t believe that you’re responsible for the crash, then you should take as many pictures at the scene as you possibly can. You want to ensure that you have evidence of the damage done to both vehicles and pictures of any individuals who may have witnessed the accident. These can be used to bolster your claim against the other driver. 


In a typical accident, you would notify your insurance company as soon as possible. In the case of a rental car, you will need to call the rental car agency and let them know about the accident since they own the car.

How Does Insurance Affect a Rental Car Accident?

Many drivers falsely assume that their own insurance policy provides coverage when they get into an accident with a rental car. This is not necessarily true. You need to check the details of your policy to make certain that rental car coverage is not excluded and, if it isn’t, then make sure that you have some coverage in place.


Those who may be covered for damage they cause to another person in another vehicle may not be covered for any damage they cause to the rental car. In other words, you would have to pay for that out-of-pocket. 

What is a Collision Damage Waiver?

The rental car company will ask all individuals who rent cars from them whether or not they have insurance. No matter how they respond to that question, they will be offered a “collision damage waiver” (or something very similar). This covers you for any damage done to the rental car that is later determined to be your fault. 


It does not apply to liability for injuries caused to the other driver or damage caused to their vehicle. You should be aware of that prior to accepting the waiver. That being said, the liability for damage caused to your rented vehicle would be covered under this policy. Without it, the rental car company could sue you directly. 

Are Rental Car Companies Ever Liable for Accidents?

Yes, but this is rare. In some cases, rental car companies rent out defective cars and these lead to accidents. In that case, both you and any other injured party (including another driver on the road) would be entitled to recover damages by filing suit against the rental car company.


In other cases, rental car companies rent vehicles to drivers who have suspended licenses, a history of DUI, or no license at all. If their customer causes an accident, the rental car company could be held responsible. 

Talk to a Traffic Accident Attorney Today

With offices in San Antonio, TX, Colorado Springs, CO, and Pueblo, CO, Brylak Law has helped thousands of injured drivers recover damages from unwilling insurance companies. Contact us today by email or phone to schedule a free consultation.