How to Get a Rental Car From an Insurance Claim

You can get a rental car through rental reimbursement coverage if your car is in the shop after a covered incident.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
With rental reimbursement coverage, your insurance company can help you get a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop for repairs covered by your policy.
It’s an issue many drivers often don’t consider until it actually happens to them—an accident leaves their vehicle at the auto shop indefinitely until it can get the necessary
car repairs
. In the meantime, you still need a vehicle to travel to work, get to appointments, and run errands, so what are you supposed to do?
Rental cars are an easy solution to this problem, but less so if you have to cover the expense yourself—and those costs can add up quickly. Here’s how you can make sure your
car insurance
covers your rental car costs after an insurance claim.
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Which driver’s insurance company will cover the cost of a rental car after an accident?

If you want to make sure your car insurance covers the cost of a rental car after an accident, you’ll want to look for an auto insurance company that offers
rental reimbursement coverage
This is different from
rental car insurance
, which covers damages to a rental car itself. Rental reimbursement coverage is specifically for covering the rental while your own car is at the repair shop for covered incidents.
Most major car insurance providers offer some form of rental reimbursement coverage, including: 
It’s common for providers to require that you have a full coverage policy—a combination of
collision coverage and comprehensive coverage
—before you can add rental reimbursement coverage.
While adding additional
car insurance coverage types
will often increase your car insurance costs, rental reimbursement coverage is generally pretty inexpensive. It often costs somewhere between $2 and $15 per month on average. Depending on the
car insurance discounts
you qualify for with your provider, it could be even cheaper. 
If you don’t have much wiggle room in your budget but depend on your car daily, rental reimbursement coverage could be well worth the cost.
MORE: How to avoid being unfairly charged for rental car damage

How to get a rental car from an insurance claim

The first step to getting a rental car after an accident is to
file a car insurance claim
. What that claims process looks like can vary from provider to provider.
In order for your insurance company to pay for your rental car, the damage to your vehicle has to be covered by your policy.
When your claim is approved, the logistics of your rental car coverage, like what rental car company you choose, how much of the cost is covered, and whether your insurance provider will pay it directly or reimburse you will depend on the details of your policy. 
If you’re unsure about your options or how to proceed with a claim for a rental car, it’s a good idea to check in with your insurance agent.

If you were at fault

In most cases, your rental reimbursement coverage from your insurance company will apply, even if you were at fault for an accident. Some exceptions may apply, such as if you intentionally caused an accident, but the general rule is that as long as the damage caused to your vehicle is covered by your policy, you’ll qualify for your rental reimbursement coverage.
When it comes to choosing a rental car for your covered claim, you’re typically entitled to a vehicle comparable to the one you drive. Most policies will have a daily limit and a maximum length that you can use the coverage—such as $50 per day for no more than 30 days. Some providers may have a per-claim limit rather than a time limit.
Rental reimbursement doesn’t usually come with a deductible. However, if you decide on a more expensive rental vehicle that’s beyond your policy’s limits, expect to pay the difference out of pocket.

If you were not at fault

If you weren’t at fault for the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance could pay for your rental car costs, and you should likely be covered for the duration that you’re without your vehicle without having to worry about the coverage limits that apply to your own policy.
But determining fault after an accident is rarely an instant process. If you need a rental car before a decision is made, rental reimbursement coverage could help you cover rental car costs until you’re reimbursed by the at-fault driver’s liability insurance after a decision has been made. You also have the option of paying for it yourself upfront. 
Just remember you’ll need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance before you can get reimbursed.

Does it matter which rental car company you choose?

The insurance provider you choose may affect which rental car companies you can (or can’t) use if you want coverage.
Some may have partnerships with preferred rental agencies that could get you additional discounts or other perks while you have the rental car. It can make the billing process easier, too, especially if they’re able to bill your insurer directly.
Conveniently, many car insurance providers can even arrange your car rental for you.
You can check your policy details to find out what options you have when choosing a rental car company, and you can ask your insurance agent as well.

Can you add rental car reimbursement coverage after an accident?

You’re always welcome to add coverage to your car insurance policy whenever you want. But unfortunately, you can’t use rental reimbursement coverage after an accident if it wasn’t already on your policy.
The best time to add rental car reimbursement coverage to your auto insurance policy is before an accident happens.
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If your car insurance policy includes rental reimbursement coverage, your car insurance company should cover the cost of your rental car if your own vehicle is in the shop after a covered claim. 
Whether your insurance company reimburses you or pays the cost directly may vary depending on your policy and the provider.
How long an insurance company will pay for your rental car with rental reimbursement coverage depends on your policy details. Most policies will have a daily limit and a maximum per-claim limit or time period that you can use the coverage (such as $50 per day for up to 30 days).
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