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car rentals and accidents

an insurance guide for drivers

You're cruising around with your red rental car's top down, feeling free as a bird, knowing that nothing bad can happen because you're on vacation. Next thing you know, your attention drifts, your rental car strikes a palm tree, and you're left wondering: Does my insurance cover this?

car accident

After a rental car accident

The first thing you want to do once the dust settles is to file your car insurance claim as you would after an accident involving your regular car. Your insurance company can walk you through the rest of the process.

The parties involved in the claim

If the accident involved another driver, you'll end up dealing with your own insurer, the other driver's insurer (except in no-fault states), and the rental company itself. If you paid for the rental with a certain credit card, the credit card company may offer financial protection as well.

How liability works in a claim involving a rental car

In general, liability works the same way whether you were driving a rental or your normal car unless you're driving abroad.

Using your personal car insurance to cover car rentals

Most car insurance policies will travel with you when you're on the road within the U.S. or Canada, but you should contact your insurance company before getting into your rental to make sure your particular policy will provide the coverage you need.

In most cases, your policy's comprehensive and collision coverages will extend to a rental car.

Letting someone else drive your rental car

tip

If you're on a group vacation, you may be tempted to let one of your traveling companions take the wheel. This is typically permitted if you alert the car rental agency ahead of time.

And it can prove worthwhile — if a driver not listed on your rental car agreement causes an accident, your claim may be denied.

Filing a car insurance claim after a rental accident

If you get into an accident while driving a rental car, report your insurance claim just as you would if you were driving your own car. As an Esurance customer, you can file your claim online or right over the phone at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). You should also report the incident to the rental car company.

Related links

Myth: rental car insurance is always necessary
Learn more about how your insurance continues to protect you while on the road as well as other rental cars facts.

Rental car coverage
Find out about the coverage that can help you pay for the rental car itself.

Driving south of the border
Learn more about your insurance before renting a car in Mexico.