Rental cars can be a lifesaver when your vehicle is out of commission due to repairs or an accident. But navigating through the process can be complicated, especially when it comes to the insurance part of the equation. This guide aims to clarify the process and answer the big question – how do you rent a car through insurance?
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How Do You Rent a Car Through Insurance?
Here are the steps you would typically follow to rent a car through your auto insurance provider:
- Report the Incident: The first step after an accident or car-related incident is to notify your insurance provider. During this call, be sure to ask about your coverage and the possibility of a rental car.
- Check Your Insurance Policy: Verify that your insurance policy includes rental car coverage. This is typically under a provision called “rental reimbursement” or “transportation expense” coverage.
- File a Claim: File a claim for the accident or incident. This process will differ slightly based on the specifics of the incident and your insurance policy.
- Approval of Claim: Once your claim has been approved, your insurance provider will inform you about the process to rent a car.
- Contact the Rental Agency: Your insurance provider may directly connect with a car rental agency, or they may ask you to arrange it. The agency may be a preferred partner of the insurance company.
- Rental Agency Verification: The rental agency will verify your details and the information about the claim with your insurance provider.
- Choose a Vehicle: Select a vehicle that is similar to your own in size and value, or according to what is specified in your insurance policy.
- Rental Agreement: Review and sign the rental agreement, ensuring you fully understand the terms and conditions.
- Direct Billing: If allowed by your insurance company, set up direct billing between the rental agency and the insurance company. This way, the rental fees are directly covered by the insurer.
- Return the Rental: Once your vehicle has been repaired, or you have purchased a new one, return the rental car according to the terms of the rental agreement.
- Closing the Claim: The final rental costs will be sent to your insurance company for payment. You will need to cover any costs that exceed your rental reimbursement coverage.
Remember that these steps might vary depending on the insurance provider, the rental car company, and the specifics of your coverage.
Understanding the Basics
Before delving into the specifics, it’s crucial to understand the basic concepts. Car insurance can often include a coverage option for rental cars, usually referred to as rental reimbursement coverage. This type of insurance typically helps pay for the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired for a claim-covered incident.
However, this isn’t a default option on all car insurance plans. You may want to check your policy or consult with your insurer to see if your plan includes this coverage. Our guide on “How Do I Know if My Insurance Covers Rental Cars?” can help you with the necessary steps to determine your coverage.
Getting a Rental Car After an Accident
If your vehicle is incapacitated following an accident, the first thing to do is to report the accident to your insurance company. If your insurance plan covers rental cars, you should be eligible for a rental while your car is being repaired.
However, there are caveats to this. For example, if the accident was your fault, you might need rental reimbursement coverage to get a rental car. If the other party is at fault, their insurance should cover your rental vehicle.
How Long Does the Coverage Last?
This can vary significantly depending on the terms of your policy. Some insurers might offer a certain dollar amount for each day and a maximum number of days. In many cases, once your car is fixed or your claim is paid for a total loss, the coverage will end. For more specifics, read our blog post: “How Long Will Insurance Cover a Rental Car After an Accident?”.
Rental Coverage Through Credit Cards
If your auto insurance does not include rental coverage, or if you’re looking for additional coverage, certain credit cards offer rental car insurance as a perk. For example, the American Express Platinum Card provides secondary coverage up to $75,000 for theft and damage in most rental vehicles when you pay with your card.
In addition, American Express also offers Premium Car Rental Insurance. For a flat fee per rental vehicle, you can be covered up to $100,000 for damage or theft without needing to file a claim with your personal auto insurance.
Specific Insurers and Rental Coverage
Not all insurance providers treat rental coverage the same way. The way they handle rental car coverage can significantly impact your experience if you ever need to use it. For example, with Esurance, rental car coverage is an optional add-on, which you can opt for when you sign up for a policy.
On the other hand, Progressive offers rental car reimbursement that pays up to $30 per day for a maximum of $900 per claim if you choose this option. However, you must also have comprehensive and collision coverage as part of your policy.
Meanwhile, Costco through its partner insurers, offers rental car reimbursement if you carry comprehensive coverage on your policy. And, if you’re a State Farm policyholder, the coverage will vary depending on the state, but it generally provides payment for a rental car when your vehicle is out of use due to a covered claim.
In the end, the most important thing is to read your policy carefully or speak with your insurance agent to understand your coverage and options.
Choosing the Right Rental Car
Once you have established your insurance coverage, the next step is to choose the right rental car for your needs. If your standard car is automatic, you’ll likely want to stick with what you’re familiar with. But remember, rental companies cannot guarantee a specific car model, only the car category.
Let’s not forget about our manual enthusiasts, who may prefer the control that manual transmission provides. If that’s your preference, it’s best to ask the rental company upfront if they offer manual cars to avoid surprises later.
Regardless of whether you choose manual or automatic, the size of the vehicle should also factor into your decision. Are you traveling with family or carrying a significant amount of luggage? Or perhaps you are alone on a business trip and want a more economical, compact car?
You may also want to consider the rental car’s fuel economy, especially for long trips. And lastly, you may wish to choose a model with GPS, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area.
Tips to Save Money on Your Rental Car
Renting a car through insurance does not necessarily mean it’s entirely free. The amount your insurance pays depends on your policy, and you might still have to pay a portion out of pocket. So, how can you save money?
- Book in advance: Rental car prices can increase as you get closer to your rental date. It’s often best to book as early as possible to get the best deal.
- Consider the rental car size: Smaller cars are typically less expensive to rent and also tend to have better fuel efficiency.
- Check for discounts: Many rental car companies offer discounts for AAA members, military personnel, and more. Be sure to ask if any discounts apply to you.
- Avoid airport rentals: Rental car companies often charge more for airport rentals due to convenience and airport fees. If possible, consider renting from a location a little further from the airport.
Wrapping it up
To sum up, renting a car through insurance involves understanding your insurance policy, knowing your rights, and making informed decisions about the rental car you choose.
Remember, each insurance company has different policies and practices when it comes to rental car coverage. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what your insurance covers, how much it will pay, and what you may need to pay out of pocket. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance company or agent to clarify any doubts.
If you’ve been in an accident and need a rental car, it might be a stressful time. But with knowledge and preparation, you can navigate the process smoothly and get back on the road as soon as possible.
At Simple Rent Car, we aim to provide you with the best tips and information about car rentals and insurance. For more insights, feel free to explore our collections and blog posts. Safe travels!