Getting a Rental Car after a Car Accident in Georgia
If you find yourself without transportation after a car accident, you may need to rent a car while yours is repaired or replaced. We’ve provided this article to help answer some of the most common questions about getting a rental car in Georgia. For step-by-step guidance, try our Georgia Car Damage Manual.
Who Pays for the Rental Car?
If you’ve been involved in an accident that was not your fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your rental car. Start by contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance company to initiate a claim. Their adjuster can advise if the claim covers a rental, and how soon you can get a rental car.
In some cases, the insurance company will directly bill the at-fault driver’s insurance company for the rental. In other cases, the insurance company will only reimburse you for the rental car. In either case, the rental company may still require you to put down a deposit with a credit card. This deposit should be refunded once the rental is returned and billing is finalized with the insurance company.
Sometimes you need a rental right away, before details can be worked out with the adjuster for the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In this situation, it can be helpful to use your own insurance if you have purchased rental coverage. If you have this coverage, you can use that to pay for a rental car up to the limits of your coverage (for example, $30 per day for a maximum of $900). Even if you don’t have this coverage, you can still pay the costs of the rental car up front and seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance later.
What Car Rental Company Should I Use?
If your rental car is being billed directly to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you will need to use the rental company that the insurance company chooses. However, you have a right to use any rental provider or location you choose, provided that you may have to pay the cost up front and seek reimbursement if you choose a different rental provider. If you choose to rent a car on your own and seek reimbursement, it is a good idea to get approval in advance for the rate and class of car to avoid issues later.
What Type of Rental Car Should I Get?
You can rent a vehicle that is comparable to yours. Keep in mind that the insurance company is trying to keep its costs to a minimum, so be prepared to stand your ground and insist on a comparable vehicle.
When using your own rental coverage, you may want to choose a car with a lower daily rate so that your reimbursement limit will last longer. If the daily rate exceeds the limits of coverage, you will have to pay the difference.
If you are paying for the rental car and seeking reimbursement, make sure to approve the rental rate with the insurance company in advance. Also, make sure to rent a vehicle that is comparable to yours. In other words, if you have an economy sedan, don’t go rent a luxury car or pickup truck, or else the insurance company may refuse to cover the additional cost. On the other hand, if you drove a pickup truck, you can rent a similar pickup truck.
Do I Need to Buy Additional Insurance for the Rental Car?
In most cases, the short answer here is no. Your own comprehensive and collision car insurance should cover the rental car just the same as it would if you were driving your own car. Of course, you should always confirm this coverage with your individual auto insurance policy.
Additionally, some credit cards offer additional coverage for rental cars, but only when using that card to pay for the rental car. Check with your credit card company to see what is and is not covered before you decide whether to decline the additional coverage.
How Long can I Keep the Rental Car after the Car Accident?
If your car is repairable, you can keep the rental car for as long as it takes for your car to be fixed. If your car is totaled, you can keep the rental car until your property damage claim is settled.
When Your Car is Repairable
If your car is repairable, you are entitled to a rental car for as long as it takes for your car to be repaired. If you are still able to drive the car still, the insurance company will start covering a rental car when the repair facility begins working on your car.
Delays can sometimes occur in the repair process. If the repair takes longer than expected, the rental company should work with the insurance adjuster to extend your rental. Unlike with your own coverage, there is no fixed time limit for how long the at-fault driver’s insurance company has to pay for your rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. You are entitled to this rental car for as long as it takes for your vehicle to be repaired.
When Your Car is Totaled
If your car is not driveable, this coverage begins immediately after the accident. It will end upon settlement of your property damage claim, so it is a good idea to start shopping around for a replacement vehicle as soon as possible.
Once the insurance company makes you an offer to pay for your totaled vehicle, you may have to return the rental car even if you don’t accept that initial offer. Don’t allow the insurance company to pressure you into accepting a lower offer if that offer does not adequately compensate you for your car’s fair market value. In this type of situation, it can be especially helpful to have purchased rental car coverage on your own car insurance policy. The cost of renting a car for a few extra days may be worth it if you are able to negotiate a higher amount to compensate you for what your car is worth.
Car Accidents & Rental Cars
We hope this guide has been helpful in making the process of renting a car after an accident less confusing and stressful. If you have additional questions or concerns about the process of navigating a property damage claim, see our Georgia Car Damage Manual.
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