Clovered's COVID-19 Response
  • Auto
  • /
  • What Happens If You Total a Rental Car?

What Happens If You Total a Rental Car?

By Teri Dormer

article views 1.9K
article share count 0
article header image

For most people, passing on travel insurance is a fairly easy decision, especially when you aren’t taking a particularly expensive or international trip.

When you’re booking your flights or a hotel, you might not even realize that insuring the trip against family emergencies or illness is an option.

When you’re renting a car, additional insurance is another thing entirely. You’re not required to provide proof of insurance before being allowed to rent a car in the first place, and you’ll likely be asked at multiple points whether or not you want to add on additional coverage

If you don’t know what happens if you total a rental car, you might be quick to dismiss the added coverage. But should you reconsider? Let’s take a look at the aftermath if you total a rental car and when extra rental car accident coverage is worth the money. 

What You Owe If You Total a Rental Car 

Because you are legally required to have your own personal insurance policy before renting a car, the amount of money you’ll be required to pay if you total a car rental can change dramatically from situation to situation. 

Here are a few scenarios that may help you determine what your out-of-pocket expenses will be after a rental car accident:

1. You don’t have a personal auto insurance policy and you decline the rental agencies coverage. This is a potential worst-case scenario.

With no buffer of support from a personal policy and no additional coverage from the rental agency, you may be responsible for paying most or all of the damage done to the vehicle, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

2. You have your own auto insurance policy, and decline the rental agency’s coverage. In this case, your personal auto policy may step in to cover the cost of damage done to the vehicle, minus your standard deductible.

Collision and comprehensive coverage typically extend to rental cars, but you should double-check with your insurance provider before assuming you have coverage.  

3. You have your own auto policy, and you pay for additional coverage from the rental agency.

If you pay for supplemental insurance on a rental car through the rental agency (typically referred to as a loss or collision damage waiver), the rental agency won’t come after you for the cost of damages or repairs to the vehicle.

Other Options for Rental Car Accident Protection  

Being involved in a car accident while you’re driving a rental car can be a nightmare, and totaling a car rental is probably your worst-case scenario.

Trying to determine what you owe after the accident can be complicated and depends on what kind of coverage you paid for, what your personal auto policy covers, and who’s at fault for the accident. 

In addition to these standard coverage options, you may find protection in other areas if you’re involved in an accident that totals a rental.

The credit card you used to book the rental car may offer an additional layer of protection against the cost of damages, similar to the protection you might find in a travel insurance policy.

Because you never can predict what will happen, it’s best to know what your coverage options are before you make a final decision on pay for additional insurance or not.

Ask your insurance provider (if you have auto coverage) whether or not rental cars or covered before you rent one, and consider what additional coverage you may get through using certain credit cards to help inform your decision.

Ready to Save Money on Auto Insurance?

Rethink your auto insurance premium with a free quote from the nation's top companies.