Do Insurance Companies Pay for Rental Cars?

In the aftermath of a car accident, victims not only have to deal with any injuries caused by the incident, but they are often left without a vehicle while awaiting repairs or replacement. This can be devastating for one-vehicle households. For those who rely on their car to get to and from work, to get their kids to school, and for everyday shopping, a car accident can cause serious problems.

Many people involved in car accidents want to know whether or not insurance companies will pay for rental cars while they wait for repairs. This will depend on the terms of their auto insurance policy and which driver was at fault.

Looking at the California Auto Insurance Requirements

Every state is responsible for setting auto insurance requirements for drivers. In California, drivers must have the following auto insurance minimums to remain legal on the roadway:

  • $15,000 for the death or injury of a single person in a crash
  • $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in a crash
  • $5,000 for property damage

Drivers are not required to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in this state.

Is Rental Car Coverage Included in These Minimums?

Drivers may assume that rental car coverage is included in the minimum policy they select. However, that is not the case. Drivers are often surprised to find out that they do not have the policy option known as “rental reimbursement.”

Rental reimbursement coverage is available for just about every auto insurance policy, but it is not part of the minimum standard plan. When people are shopping for car insurance, they often choose the plan with the lowest premium. Unfortunately, this will not include rental reimbursement coverage.

On average, cars are in the repair shop for two to three weeks after an accident occurs. This is an incredibly long period of time for those who rely on their vehicles. Unfortunately, renting a vehicle without rental reimbursement coverage can be cost-prohibitive.

How Can You Get Rental Car Coverage Added to Your Policy?

You should examine your car insurance policy immediately. While you likely have the minimum coverage required, you need to look specifically to see if rental reimbursement coverage is there. You can add this coverage for a relatively low amount. Typically, insurance companies will cover the cost of a rental car up to a certain amount every day and for a total maximum amount.

For example, you may see rental reimbursement coverage offered like this – $30/Day, $900Max. What this means is that, in the event you need a rental vehicle after a crash, your insurance provider will pay for a rental for a maximum of $30 a day up to $900 total. This would be 30 days worth of rental coverage, usually more than enough time for your vehicle to be repaired or replaced.

What About the Other Driver’s Policy?

If your vehicle was damaged due to the actions of another driver, you may be entitled to rental coverage through their insurance provider. Gather the at-fault driver’s insurance information and call their insurance company (or have your Irvine car accident attorney do so). In an ideal scenario, the insurance carrier will provide rental car service. However, insurance carriers can be notoriously difficult to deal with and cause delays. You may need to front the costs associated with renting a vehicle out-of-pocket or use your own insurance carrier’s rental coverage and then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s carrier at a later date.