How Long Will Insurance Cover a Rental Car after an Accident?

With the right insurance policy, you can get up to 30 days of rental reimbursement after an accident—learn how to qualify here!
Written by Drew Waterstreet
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
With rental reimbursement coverage, your car insurance provider will typically cover rental vehicle costs for up to 30 days after an accident—but it can vary based on estimates from the mechanic and decisions of the claims adjuster.
Just because your car is at the mechanic after an accident, that doesn’t mean the rest of your responsibilities stop moving. You still have to get to the grocery store and pick the kids up from school—or whatever demands your presence on a daily basis. 
Luckily, if you choose to add rental reimbursement coverage to your
car insurance
policy, your schedule can continue on without a hitch! 
It’s one of those coverages you hope you never need, but you’re happy to have it when you do. So let us tell you all about how rental reimbursement coverage can come in handy after an accident.

How long will auto insurance cover a rental car after an accident?

Let’s say you’ve been in a car accident and your vehicle is being towed away to the nearby repair shop to evaluate the severity of the damage. In the meantime, you need to find a new way of getting around, especially if you live somewhere without reliable public transportation.
But as long as you have rental reimbursement coverage, there’s no need to stress! With this coverage, your car insurance company will reimburse you for the cost of a rental vehicle for up to 30 days while your own car is being repaired
However, the number of days will vary based on the mechanic’s time estimates and the decision by the claims adjuster—let us explain:
  • Mechanic: If it’s worth repairing your vehicle, the reimbursed rental period will typically match how long the mechanic estimates the job will take—it could be five days or 30 days!
  • Claims Adjuster: If your vehicle is deemed a
    total loss
    (it would cost more to repair than what it’s worth), your claims adjuster may just pay out your insurance claim under your
    comprehensive or collision coverage
    and send you on your way. However, they may still respect your rental car reimbursement coverage by paying for a rental while you shop for a new replacement vehicle—but how long, if at all, will be at the discretion of the insurance company.
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What does rental reimbursement coverage cover?

Rental reimbursement is an entirely optional coverage. If you have it and you’ve been in an accident, you will get access to a free rental vehicle (of similar style and value) while your own car is being repaired. 
However, the insurance company that pays the bill for the rental vehicle will depend on the context of the car accident:
  • You’re not at fault: The at-fault driver’s insurance company will cover the rental cost as part of the settlement decided by the law firm. In this case, you won’t even need your rental reimbursement coverage. It will all come from the other driver’s
    property damage liability
  • You’re at fault: Your own insurance company will cover the costs of a rental vehicle if you caused the accident, but only if you have rental reimbursement as an additional coverage on your policy. If not, you’ll be paying out of pocket for a temporary ride.
And just so we are clear, rental reimbursement only covers the bill for your rental vehicle. You’ll need an auto insurance policy with
if you want your provider to pay the mechanic, too!

How to get a rental car after a car accident

Many rental car companies, like Enterprise and Hertz, are happy to provide you with a temporary ride after an accident. However, your selection may be limited to whatever rental company your insurance provider partners with for rental reimbursement coverage. So make sure to review the fine print with your insurance agent.
It’s also worth noting that it may take your insurance provider up to two weeks to approve your insurance claim for rental reimbursement. Technically speaking, you may have to pick up the bill if you rent a car and your claim ends up getting denied. Again, make sure to speak with your insurance agent so you can have a complete understanding of the situation.
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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It can take up to two weeks for your insurance company to review your claim and provide reimbursement for the rental car. However, they could deny it, which makes it slightly risky to go out and get a rental immediately after an accident. That being said, you should be able to have an honest conversation with your insurance agent about whether or not your claim will get approved.
The insurance company will only pay for a rental car that is comparable to your own. So if your
Honda Civic
is at the mechanic after an accident, don’t expect to get a
BMW 3 Series
while you wait.
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