Whether you’re traveling locally, across state lines, or internationally, a rental car may figure into your travel plans over the holidays. Of course, getting into any vehicle puts you at risk for being involved in a car crash. When you’re riding in a rental car at the time, post-crash etiquette and legalities are somewhat altered from a “normal” car accident. Preparing for the possibility of an auto accident ahead of time will give you protection should the worst occur.
The Third-Party Element
There are similarities between being involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle while operating your personal vehicle, and an accident between your rental car and another person’s vehicle. Along with the drivers of both vehicles being involved, there is a third party to consider. In this case, the rental car company – the owner of the vehicle – can also be held liable for the accident.
Do You Need Extra Car Insurance?
When you rent a car, you are typically offered the option to purchase additional insurance coverage on top of the liability insurance that the rental company is required by law to have on all of their rented vehicles. This can include collision damage insurance, supplemental liability protection, or personal accident insurance. But you can’t assume that the car rental enterprise’s insurance is enough to cover injuries, damage, or fault. It’s up to every Michigan driver of a rental car to check with their own car insurance company about their no-fault benefits and coverage when it comes to driving a rental car.
How to Avoid Rental Car Crashes
Rental car crashes are not uncommon. But certainly no one wants to get into an auto accident, especially at holiday time. There are steps you can take to try to avoid getting into accidents:
- Designate a navigator: Sure, your phone has a built-in GPS, and your rental car may have a dashboard GPS. Even if the Bluetooth is announcing directions to you, things can get confusing. If you’re driving the rental car in an unfamiliar area, be sure to have some company in the car, someone who can read a map and notify you of directions so you can be extra-alert about navigating the roads.
- Put the smartphone down: You may be excited to announce your arrival to family or friends and just can’t help but call from your rental car. You may even be tempted to text or email. Resist the urge to use your smartphone while driving any vehicle, rental car or otherwise. Taking your attention away from the road in any way, shape, or form is a recipe for disaster.
- Don’t drink and drive: Celebrations and holidays are a cozy pair, but drinking and driving is not. If you have had too much to drink, find a safe ride home, even if it means leaving your rental car behind for the evening. Better to pay an extra fee for having the car one more night than be involved in an expensive, complicated – and potentially fatal – auto accident.
If You Are the Victim of a Rental Car Crash
If the driver of a rental car or anyone else is hurt in a car accident, the victim will have to file a third-party claim with the rental company’s insurance and the driver’s insurance company. However, things can get complicated if the driver of the rental car does not own a vehicle themselves and does not have a personal liability policy. In this case, the victim will have to appeal to the rental company. If the rental company has only a small liability policy and the victim’s injuries exceed the policy’s limit, it is possible for the victim to personally sue the driver of the car.
About: David Christensen is an accident injury attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He specializes in helping auto accident victims secure benefits from insurance companies and at-fault drivers.