Can You Add Rental Car Insurance After a Car Accident?

Adding rental car insurance after a car accident won’t do much to help—and it may not even be the coverage you’re thinking of. Click here to learn more!
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
You can add
rental car insurance
after an accident, but it won’t reimburse you for any rental car expenses from previous incidents.
Rental car reimbursement coverage
can accomplish this for future incidents, but you may have some other options if you need a rental vehicle now.
Whether you’ve crashed a rental car or need a rental after an accident with your own car, figuring out how your
car insurance
can help can be a little confusing. Can you get reimbursed for a rental car or will you be stuck paying out-of-pocket? And what type of rental car insurance would you even need?
Before tackling these questions, the most important thing to understand is that rental car insurance and rental reimbursement insurance are not the same. Read on to learn the difference between these two types of coverage, how to buy rental car insurance, and what you need to do to get rental car assistance after an accident.

Can you add rental car insurance after a car accident?

Technically, you can add rental car insurance
after a car accident
, but it probably won’t help you in the way you want it to.
Insurance that you add after a car accident won’t cover any claims from that incident. However, you may not be at a total loss. Look to your own insurance company, the other at-fault driver’s insurance company, or your rental car company for support, depending on the circumstances.
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If you get into an accident with a rental car

Try not to panic
if you damage a rental car
in an accident. Chances are you already have rental car insurance coverage that will pay for the damages.
Most rental car companies require you to temporarily purchase or provide proof of rental car insurance before you can rent the car. Some drivers already receive this coverage through their credit card, while others might be covered by
comprehensive coverage
from their own auto insurance policies—depending on where they live.
You won’t be able to add rental car insurance retroactively if you somehow managed to rent a car without it, meaning you’re stuck paying for any damages if you were at fault. If the other driver was at-fault, however, you should claim your rental damages through their auto insurance company.

If you need a rental car after your own car is damaged in an accident

Adding rental car reimbursement to your car insurance policy won’t do anything if you need reimbursement for an incident that’s already happened. However, you may be able to find support for a rental car elsewhere!
If you were not at fault in the accident, you can include a rental car request when you
file a car insurance claim
through the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. If approved, their
property damage liability insurance
payout will include the cost of a rental car while your personal vehicle is in the repair shop. Make sure to get their insurance information to start the claims process
If you’re denied reimbursement for a rental car by the other driver’s insurance, try talking to your own insurance agent. While they may not be able to get you fully reimbursed, they may be able to talk to a car rental company on your behalf to get you a reduced rate.

Rental car insurance vs. rental reimbursement coverage

Let’s clear up any confusion that may be left: Rental car insurance and rental reimbursement coverage are not the same thing.
Rental car insurance is typically offered by rental companies in the form of a collision damage waiver to cover accidents that could occur while driving your rental car. You can often opt for limited coverage levels—like rental liability-only—or skip this coverage altogether if you’re already covered by your car insurance policy or credit card.
Rental reimbursement coverage, on the other hand, is an optional coverage that you can add to your car insurance policy to pay for a rental car after a covered incident. Typically you can only add rental reimbursement if you have comprehensive and collision coverage. You won’t need to meet an additional deductible to have a rental car reimbursed, but most policies include a daily limit to the cost of your rental car.
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What does rental car insurance pay for?

There are varying levels of rental car coverage that pay for different degrees of damage.
Here’s what rental car insurance covers depending on the level you opt for if you buy it from your rental company:
  • Personal effects coverage: Pays for personal belongings that are stolen from your rental car.
  • Personal accident insurance: Covers medical costs for anyone in your rental car if you get into an accident.
  • Rental car liability coverage: Pays for damages that you cause to others in an accident with your rental car.
  • Collision damage waiver: Covers administrative fees, loss-of-use while the car is in the shop, potential towing charges, and loss of value after an accident with a rental car.
A collision damage waiver offers the most extensive coverage, covering many of the hidden fees associated with a rental car crash.
Rental car insurance through a credit card may cover some damages covered under a collision damage waiver, but it’s often more limited.

How much does rental car insurance cost?

On average, rental car insurance can cost anywhere from $1 per day for basic personal effects coverage to $30 per day for a collision damage waiver.
Car rental companies will push collision damage waivers since they offer the most extensive rental car coverage, but they’re also incredibly overpriced. In some cases, you may see the cost of a collision damage waiver meeting or even exceeding the actual cost of your rental car.
When in doubt, always check the terms of your current car insurance policy or credit card to see if you have coverage to protect you in a rental car accident and can avoid the extra fees.

How to purchase rental car insurance

You can purchase traditional rental car insurance from your rental car company in advance or at the time of pickup. You can also ask about rental car insurance when you apply for your next credit card, although this may not be as extensive.
If you’re looking to purchase rental car reimbursement insurance, just talk to your insurance agent! You may be able to add this to your current policy if your provider offers it, but you should compare
car insurance quotes online
to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
blew my mind, honestly. From start to finish, using the app took me 10 minutes and I ended up with $100 of savings a month. Best of all, customer service answered all my questions about rental car reimbursement and roadside assistance.” —Savanna R.
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While every provider’s terms are different, most car insurance policies will extend to a rental car if it meets certain criteria. This includes use within the United States, U.S. territories, or Canada, temporary use for less than 30 days, and occasional moving truck rental. If that’s the case, your car insurance will only cover a rental car for the same damages that it would cover for your personal car.
If you get into an accident without any type of coverage for your rental car, you could be responsible for paying the resulting damages according to your rental contract. Talk to a lawyer to review the contract and determine how much you can actually be held accountable for.
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