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What to Know About Rental Car Accidents

If you plan to rent a vehicle on your vacation, there are some things you need to keep in mind regarding the rental contract, your insurance coverage, and how an accident is handled. While they are convenient for traveling, there can be serious legal repercussions if you are involved in an accident with your rental vehicle.

Shopping for Your Rental

It is important to not only shop around for price, but also what is included in your rental. Some rental car agencies might charge you for a secondary driver, or mileage beyond a certain amount. If you plan to drive in a different state, you need to know the insurance coverage requirements as some states will differ on the requirements and liability limits that apply.

What is Rental Car Coverage?

You should familiarize yourself with what your personal insurance will cover when you rent a car for leisure. Call your agent or insurance company and ask what specific coverage you have, and whether it will provide coverage for a rental car in the state in which you will be driving. You may also have some coverage through travel insurance or a credit card, but you should call to verify.

There is an option to purchase different coverage at the rental agency. The most common coverages you might see include:

  • Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver (CDW or LDW): This will cover damages to the rental car itself if you are involved in an accident. You may be responsible for a deductible, as you would with your own insurance coverage.
  • Personal Accident Insurance (PAI): This will provide coverage in the event of injury or death caused by a rental car accident.
  • Supplemental Liability Protection/Insurance (SLP): The supplemental liability protection covers property damage and/or injuries to someone besides the renter and passengers in the event the rental car driver is the one at fault.

Rental Car Contract Breach

Pay close attention to your contact and what it includes. If you plan to pick up at one location and return to a different state, do not be shocked when you find out there is a hefty drop-off fee. If you breach the contract in another way, like taking the car to an unauthorized state or to Mexico, the rental car company might pursue you directly for damages in the event of an accident. If you breach the rental contract, whatever rental car coverage you purchased will be voided and you could be on the hook personally.

In the event your own insurance denies coverage, the rental car company may come after you for vehicle damages as well as anything paid out in a liability claim. This can result in a judgment against you, and the judgment creditor might apply to garnish your wages, levy your bank account, suspend your driver’s license, or even place a lien against your property in a big claim.

Retaining a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been in an accident involving a rental car, you need to speak with a knowledgeable Maryland car accident attorney right away. The Law Office of Robert R. Castro can help determine all available coverages and help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office at 301-870-1200 to schedule a consultation.

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