If you’re planning a road trip, travelling for work, or simply need a vehicle to get around for a few days, rental cars offer ease and convenience for when it’s problematic to be without a vehicle. Car rental companies like Enterprise and Avis provide a welcome alternative to public transit or relying on Ubers or taxis. You simply select the vehicle, sign the forms, and you are ready to set out on the open road. But what happens if you get into an accident? Are you covered by insurance for your injuries? Will you be adequately compensated? These questions typically come as an afterthought. You may have selected some type of coverage when you signed the paperwork. But chances are you aren’t clear on the ins-and-outs of what exactly is “covered.”
In the event of a rental car accident, you’re suddenly thrown into the complex world of law and insurance. Within days of your accident, insurance adjusters may already be pushing you to accept a settlement before you even realize the full extent of your injuries. You are suddenly bombarded with paperwork and legal issues during an already stressful time. If you were injured in a rental car accident that was not your fault, we can help. Litwiniuk & Company has been successfully helping thousands of Albertans resolve their Personal Injury claims since 1976. We’ve seen it all, and we understand what you are going through. Our Calgary Rental Car Accident lawyers will get you access to the benefits and compensation you deserve, and it won’t cost you a thing to get a lawyer on your side.
5 important steps to consider if you’ve been in a rental car accident
Driving a rental car often means driving in an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar location. Lack of familiarity with the vehicle and unknown roads can be an accident waiting to happen. But that doesn’t mean that a rental car accident is automatically your fault. You could easily be the victim of another driver’s error or circumstance. More importantly, the steps following a rental car accident are somewhat different from a standard motor vehicle accident. Here are the top things you should do after a rental car accident:
- Your safety and the safety of others involved in the accident are top priority. Even if you feel fine, it’s very important to get properly assessed by a medical professional. Adrenaline is likely running high after an accident and you may not realize the full extent of your injuries for hours, days, or even weeks. Even if you were checked over by medical personnel at the scene of the accident, you should book an appointment with your medical doctor right away for a more thorough examination. A medical report also provides an important piece of evidence should you choose to make a claim. Don’t have a family doctor? Alberta Find A Doctor makes it easy to locate a doctor near you.
- If you are able, exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers, persons involved, and witnesses. Get the name and badge number of the police officer on scene, along with the case number. If you have a phone on you, make use of the camera and notetaking functions. A picture is worth a thousand words – take photographs of the location, any damages, injuries, skid marks, license plates, roads, and more. No detail is too small. If you’re reading this after the fact and you couldn’t gather evidence at the scene, that’s okay too. It’s common for accident victims to be in shock or injured and unable to collect any information. Our Calgary Car Rental Accident lawyers are experts at gathering evidence after the fact. But keep in mind that the sooner you contact a Personal Injury lawyer, the better. As time passes, it can become more difficult to locate witnesses and it’s always preferable to gather information while memories are still fresh.
- Call your car rental company right away to let them know about the accident. They’ll advise you about the next steps, like what to do with the car. We recommend writing down the name and number of the customer service representative you spoke with, the time of the call, and what was said in the conversation. These details can be helpful down the road to protect you if there is a dispute.
- Contact your insurance provider. Whether your rental coverage is under personal auto insurance or a credit card, it’s important to contact your provider right away and notify them of the accident. Waiting to do so can cause problems – worst-case scenario – delaying this step could result in them denying your claim, especially if your coverage is through a credit card.
- File an official report with the rental car company. Even if you have already called the company to notify them of the accident, you still need to proceed with filing an actual report. The accident report will ask for details about the accident and your insurance information.
- Is my rental car covered for accidents?
If you have personal auto insurance for your own car, your coverage from your personal policy will likely extend to the rental car. In other words, if you hurt anyone or cause damage to another person’s vehicle or property, your auto insurance will probably take care of the costs. While your insurance may cover any injuries or damages you might have caused to another person or car, it doesn’t automatically cover damages to your rental car. In order to be covered for damages to the rental vehicle, you would need to have something called an SEF 27 endorsement included in your personal auto insurance policy. This essentially covers you from any legal liability for damage to a non-owned automobile. If you are thinking of renting a car and want to plan ahead, or if you frequently rent vehicles, it’s highly recommended to add the SEF 27 endorsement to your insurance policy. Your auto insurance, renters or homeowner’s insurance, and health insurance will likely cover a good portion of what a rental car accident might cost. However, it’s always a good idea to check your own policies before you rent a car so you can see if you need to add on any additional coverage. For more information, contact your insurance broker.
What happens if I don’t have a personal auto insurance policy?
If you don’t have your own auto insurance policy for a personal car, things can get a bit more complicated. The credit card that you used to pay for the rental may provide collision damage coverage on rental vehicles. One thing to keep in mind is that most credit cards don’t typically cover “downtime” for the period that a vehicle cannot be rented while it’s being repaired. So, if you crash the rental car, you ultimately could be on the hook to pay rental fees for that vehicle for every day it’s in the shop. As well, most rental companies offer various forms of optional insurance or add-ons. If you purchased the rental company’s auto insurance, then they may handle the coverage. Usually, the optional insurance offered by rental companies includes:
- Collision damage - also known as a “loss-damage waiver,” it covers financial responsibility if the rental car is damaged, stolen, or requires towing, and other fees.
- Personal accident insurance – also known as “no-fault insurance,” it covers medical costs and general healthcare expenses. It can also protect you against loss of income as a result of the accident.
- Personal effects coverage – this covers any personal items that might be damaged or stolen from the car during use, such as luggage, electronics, personal items, etc.
- Liability – this would cover you if there’s an accident and you were at fault; liability coverage would take effect if any other driver made a claim against you – the limit is usually $1 million.
To summarize, there are typically 3 avenues of insurance that could cover damage to a rental car:
- Your credit card coverage
- Your personal auto insurance
- The rental car company’s insurance products
Note: If the other driver is at fault, the rental car company may not wait for the insurance claim process to finish before expecting payment for repairs to the vehicle. This means that your credit card may be charged for the full amount of the damages, and you will need to file a claim in order to be reimbursed.
Is my settlement offer fair?
Rule #1. Do NOT accept a settlement offer or sign any documents before you speak to an experienced Rental Car Accident lawyer.
Rule #2: Do NOT settle your claim before you have the right medical treatment providers assess the possible long-term effects of your injuries.
In the days and weeks following your accident, you may receive a call or letter from the insurance company of the at-fault party with a settlement offer. Insurance adjusters are often quick to make an offer, ideally before you consult a Personal Injury lawyer or realize the full extent of your injuries. You are under no obligation to accept this offer right away or even talk with their adjusters. Whatever the particulars of your insurance coverage, if you were in a rental car accident that was not your fault, our Calgary Rental Car Accident lawyers can help. We’ll help you find out what your claim might be worth and what benefits you have a right to access. At Litwiniuk & Company, it won’t cost you a thing to speak with an experienced Personal Injury lawyer. And if you choose us, you don’t pay us anything until you receive your settlement.
In Alberta, you generally have up to two years from the date of a rental car accident to make a claim in court, or your right to do so is lost forever. But it’s important not to wait as there may be other important deadlines or other circumstances that may affect the deadline or your claim. If you have any questions about the limitation period for your claim, call or email us for a free consultation with one of our Calgary Rental Car Accident Lawyers today.
Our Calgary Rental Car Accident lawyers are here to help.
A rental car accident shouldn’t leave you feeling robbed. If you weren’t at fault, or only partially at fault, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. These types of cases are more complex than an accident that takes place in your own vehicle. Have questions? It won’t cost you anything to talk to one of our Calgary Rental Car Accident lawyers. We believe that every person has a right to know what they are entitled to. And if you do choose to proceed with a claim, we don’t get paid until you get paid. Having an experienced lawyer by your side can make all the difference. At Litwiniuk & Company, you get an entire team dedicated to your case. We’re here to reduce your stress. That means we’ll take care of the legal work and paperwork so you can focus on what matters most – your health and getting your life back. Call or email us today to book a free consultation.