Who Pays for My Rental Car Expenses After a Car Accident?

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Key Points:

  • In Georgia, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying the costs of the accident, and that includes the victim’s rental car expenses.
  • When liability is not disputed, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier may agree to pay your rental car bills directly if you use its preferred rental company.
  • If the insurance carrier disputes liability, you will either have to pay rental costs up front or get coverage through your own insurance policy.
  • If you have to pay rental costs up front, you should document your expenses and seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company through a settlement agreement.

If you are involved in an accident and your car is damaged, you will likely need another mode of transportation while your car is being repaired or replaced. While some people rely on family and friends, most prefer the flexibility of renting a car so that they’re free to go anywhere they need on their own schedule. Most rental car companies charge a daily rate and additional fees, however, and these charges can add up quickly.

You may already be facing physical injuries and medical expenses from the accident—not knowing how long you’ll be without your car while rental charges pile up can add even more stress. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to get your rental car bills covered by the insurance company, and this guide explains your options so that you can decide what’s best for you.

How Auto Insurance Companies Pay for Rental Cars After Accidents

Before you rent a car, you should consider where the car is coming from and who is paying for it. Typically, insurance companies have ongoing business relationships with certain rental car companies, which can streamline the process and make it more convenient for everyone involved.

When you use the rental car company the insurance carrier chooses, you won’t be billed for the charges. Instead, the rental company usually sends the bills directly to the carrier for payment. You aren’t obligated to use the carrier’s preferred rental company, however.

But if you decide to use a different rental car company, you may have to pay the costs up front and seek reimbursement from the insurance carrier later. If you choose this option, you should speak to the insurance adjuster beforehand to find out what daily rate is approved for coverage (and if there’s an overall limit). If you pay more than the rate allowed by insurance coverage, you’ll have to pay the difference out of your own pocket.

Insurance Policy Coverage for Rental Cars

Comprehensive and collision car insurance coverage generally includes rental car expenses, and the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying those costs. In situations where liability is not disputed, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may agree to pay your rental car bills directly.

When liability is disputed or when the insurance carrier delays making a determination of fault, you’ll probably have to negotiate with the carrier to get reimbursement for your rental costs as part of your compensation settlement. That means you’ll need to find another way to pay up-front costs for your rental car if you need one immediately.

If you have rental coverage under your own policy, you can seek payment from your car insurance carrier. Some credit card companies also offer rental car services if you use their card for the transaction. Even if you don’t have these options, however, you can still seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier for your out-of-pocket rental costs.

Because there are different ways to get your rental car expenses covered, you should consider the convenience and limitations of each option. For example, when you use your own insurance coverage, you may not have to pay up-front costs, but there is typically a limit on how many days your policy will cover your rental. If the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier is paying, your coverage will last as long as it takes to get your car repaired (if it’s repairable) or replaced (if it’s totaled).

How Rental Car Fees Are Covered for At-Fault Drivers

Even if you were the at-fault driver in the accident, your insurance carrier must still pay your rental car costs if your policy includes rental coverage. Rental car coverage is not required in Georgia, so your carrier will only pay your costs if you specifically added optional rental coverage to your policy. If you were at fault and your insurance policy doesn’t include rental car coverage, you will have to pay rental costs yourself.

How Rental Car Fees Are Covered for Drivers Not At-Fault

In Georgia, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying the costs of the accident, and that includes the victim’s rental car expenses. If the insurance carrier agrees that its driver was at fault, it will usually pay the victim’s rental car bills directly (see above).

Often, however, the carrier will dispute that its insured was to blame for the accident, or it will claim that the other driver was at least partially at fault. Because Georgia is a comparative negligence state, the insurance company can reduce your compensation based on your percentage of fault. If you were at least 50 percent at fault, you cannot recover any compensation (which includes rental car fees) from the other driver’s insurance carrier.

Thus, the insurance company has a financial incentive to argue the other driver caused or contributed to the accident. If the carrier takes this position, it will likely refuse to pay any costs, including rental fees, until the parties negotiate an agreement concerning liability and damages.

When the at-fault driver’s carrier refuses to cover your rental fees, you can either pay the costs up front or use your own insurance policy coverage. If you have to pay rental costs up front, you can seek reimbursement through the settlement agreement.

Can Rental Car Expenses Be Included in a Settlement?

Yes. The at-fault driver’s insurance company must compensate you for the total cost of the accident, and that includes the expense of renting a car after yours was damaged. You should save the documentation showing your rental car fees (and all other expenses) because you will need to present this evidence to the insurance company to prove the full extent of your damages. A fair settlement offer should provide full compensation for all your losses.

Why Hire Our Firm After a Car Accident

Since 1993, The Millar Law Firm has been helping car accident victims with every step they face after an accident. Securing a rental car is an initial step, but you will likely need other legal advice down the road. Make sure you speak to an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case so you don’t leave money on the table.

Consultations Are Free at The Millar Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, make sure you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our attorneys can help. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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