If you have to utilize a rental car while your own car is in the shop, while on vacation or a work trip, or simply because you do not have a vehicle of your own, you should be aware of the risks if you are in an accident. Be certain to know whether or not your personal automobile insurance covers you if you are driving a rental car. If not, it would be wise to purchase the optional insurance coverage typically offered by rental car agencies.
Charges for the repair or replacement of the rental car seem logical and are often covered by insurance. Your expenses may not stop there, though. In addition to the cost to repair or replace the damaged vehicle, the rental agency may also require that you pay for their loss of use of the vehicle since it costs the company income to have the vehicle off of their lot.
For the most part, an accident in a rental car is very similar to one in your own personal car. The at-fault party, or their insurance, will have to cover the costs resulting from the crash. Under South Carolina law, automobile insurance coverage must include $25,000 in bodily injury coverage and $25,000 in property damage coverage. However, insurance may not be enough to cover all of your costs, particularly if the rental company requires payment for the loss of use of the vehicle.
When you need more than insurance is willing to pay to cover accident expenses, you may choose to file suit. A personal injury suit can help you to cover your accident-related costs, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Additionally, you may be able to recover vehicle repair or replacement costs charged by the rental company. This can include any loss of use charges.
You should keep in mind, however, that South Carolina utilizes modified comparative negligence in accident cases to determine who is at fault and how compensation will be awarded. You are allowed to seek compensation in a personal injury case if you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. Your compensation can be reduced by the degree to which you are at fault, though. If, for example, you are found to be 10 percent at fault while seeking $1,000 in damages, you will only be eligible to receive $900.
Immediately after an accident, be certain to document the accident scene and circumstances. This should include photographs of the accident scene, damages, and injuries. The names and contact information of any witnesses can also be helpful, along with the police report and medical records. This evidence will help to show who was at fault, which is essential to recovering compensation.
Purchasing Rental Car Insurance
If you are at a rental car counter, you will always be asked if you want to purchase rental car insurance. Many people are unaware of how the rental car insurance process works, and whether or not their own insurance will cover them if they are involved in any accidents. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions regarding the purchase of rental car insurance.
Personal Car Insurance and Rental Cars
If you obtain a rental car and only use it for personal use, typically your personal car insurance will cover any accident you may have. However, you should always contact your insurance company or check your own insurance policy to determine if your car insurance policy actually covers rental cars and the amount of coverage that it provides.
Credit Cards and Rental Cars
In some cases, your credit card will provide coverage for any rental car purchase you make using that specific care. In order to determine if the credit card you will be using for your car rental provides insurance coverage, it is always best to contact the credit card number on the back fo your card directly to see if extra insurance coverages are offered.
Rental Car Company Options
- Loss-damage waiver. Complete coverage for the driver.
- Liability coverage. Minimum coverage in the state in which the car is rented. Offers protection to the renter following an accident.
- Personal accident insurance. Personal medical costs incurred after an accident are covered.
Personal effects coverage. Personal property damage inside a car after a car accident are covered.
Contact a Charleston Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents are stressful enough without worrying about how you’ll pay for your expenses. The Charleston Car Accident attorneys at David Aylor Law Offices can help you to recover the compensation you need after your rental car accident and may be able to assist you in dealing with the rental company as well. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.