Being involved in an auto accident is stressful enough without having to worry about how to handle major car damage. While car insurance will hopefully cover the cost of the damage itself, how will you get around while your vehicle is in the shop?

In this instance, you may need to look into getting a rental car. But will your insurance cover it? You’ve come to the right place for answers to these questions and more. Let’s take a closer look to help you take some of the stress out of a stressful situation.

How Do Rental Cars Work After an Accident?

sales man holding cars key over documents

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, then you may find yourself in need of a rental car while your own vehicle is being repaired. In the best-case scenario, you’ll be able to count on your car insurance to come to the rescue and cover your rental car costs.

Unfortunately, that may not be the case even if you do have car insurance. In some cases, you may end up having to cover the costs of a rental out of pocket.

Who Pays for Rental Car After Accident?

Portrait of a man in car dealership

So, how do you know whether or not your insurance will cover a car rental after an auto accident? It will mostly come down to whether or not your plan offers rental reimbursement insurance and under what circumstances.

It’s important never to assume that rental reimbursement coverage is included in your policy when signing up for auto insurance. While it is offered by many insurance companies, it’s often available as an add-on rather than a standard part of a plan.

Given how expensive it can be to rent a car out of pocket, it’s never a bad idea to opt into rental reimbursement coverage. It doesn’t tend to be very expensive and can save you a great deal of money if you ever end up needing it.

Can I Add Rental Reimbursement After an Accident?

blonde woman standing next to the driver side of a car holding a clipboard with a document while male driver signs it

Rental car reimbursement will only cover any accidents you’re involved in that occur after you’ve signed up. While you may be able to add it to your insurance policy to cover future accidents, you won’t be able to tack it on to cover one that’s already occurred.

It’s also important to note that you’ll usually need to add rental reimbursement for each separate vehicle covered under your plan. Say, for instance, that your spouse opted for rental reimbursement coverage on their vehicle but you do not choose to have it cover your own. If you’re in an accident, then you may not be able to use your spouse's rental coverage even if you share a plan with the same company.

How Do I Get Rental Car Reimbursement - Not at Fault Accident?

woman an man in an office talking

If you don’t happen to have rental reimbursement at the time of an accident, you may not be totally out of luck if you weren’t at fault. In this situation, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may be able to provide you with a rental car.

Just make sure you fully understand the terms and timeline of any offer they present to you.

When Does Car Insurance Not Cover Rental Cars?

man reading a document and two girls sitting in a suv cargo  in the background

Even the best rental reimbursement insurance is unlikely to cover every situation. The type of situations covered will likely come down to whether you opt for a collision policy, a comprehensive policy, or both. What’s the difference?

  • Collision Auto Insurance- Covers damages to your vehicle due to a collision of some sort- whether it be with another vehicle or a stationary object.
  • Comprehensive Auto Insurance- Will cover damage to your car due to circumstances outside of your control, such as a natural disaster, theft, or falling object.

Many customers choose to go with both types of insurance for full coverage. If you only choose to go with one or the other, then adding on rental coverage will only cover the types of claims covered by your policy. For example, if you only have collision insurance, then you may not qualify for rental reimbursement if a tree falls on your car.

When Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

This is a vital question to ask your insurance agent when signing up for rental reimbursement coverage. The truth is that the answer may differ depending on the insurance company you go with. Generally, however, rental reimbursement will only cover the cost of a car rental if you are unable to drive in a situation covered in your existing collision or comprehensive policy.

You may be wondering - if my car breaks down will insurance cover a rental? Not usually. Rental reimbursement commonly only works for situations in which your car has been damaged due to an accident or other unforeseen disaster.

Here are some common situations in which rental reimbursement should (and probably won’t) cover the price of a rental car:

Situations Commonly Covered by Rental Insurance: Situations Not Commonly Covered by Rental Insurance:
Auto Accidents Mechanical Issues
Theft Tire Repair
Natural Disaster Damage Routine Maintenance
Vandalism Vacation or Business Trip Rentals
Stationary Object Collisions Paint Jobs

Does My Car Warranty Cover Rental Car Reimbursement?

close up of woman's hand hitchhiking

If your car should breakdown and need to be repaired, then you may be able to cover the cost of a rental car through your vehicle’s warranty. This is particularly true if your vehicle needs to have a part repaired or replaced due to a manufacturer’s defect.

Auto warranties vary depending on the manufacturer, but it’s always worth taking a look to see how long yours lasts and whether it offers rental coverage.

How Much Do Auto Insurance Companies Pay for Rental Cars?

man in his office giving car keys to a couple

When you sign up for rental reimbursement coverage, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print. Not only will you want to know what situations your rental plan covers, but also the total amount of money it will cover.

Some plans will cover the amount of a rental up to a certain amount of money each day or in total. If your plan only covers a rental of up to $40 a day, you may not want to select the flashiest luxury car on the rental company’s lot.

How Does Rental Reimbursement Work?

woman giving car keys to someone

As long as you already have coverage in place, then using it should be as simple as filing a claim. Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to do this online, over the phone, in person, or any of the above.

Before you select a rental car, it’s a good idea to reach out to your insurance company to see if they partner with any rental dealers. If so, then your insurance company may be able to send the payment for your rental directly to the rental company. Otherwise, you may have to have your insurance reimburse you to cover the costs.

How Long Do Car Insurance Companies Have to Refund Your Money?

Car model,calculator and coins over a clipboard on white table

It’s usually the best option to have your insurance company pay for your rental directly if possible. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for the rental out of pocket and wait for reimbursement.

Some states require insurance companies to settle reimbursements within 30 days, but these laws may or may not apply in your area. While most insurance companies attempt to reimburse their customers quickly, the process may take anywhere from 30 days to a few months.

Rental Car Reimbursement vs Rental Car Insurance

blonde woman reading a document

While they may sound similar, rental car reimbursement and rental car insurance are not one and the same. Rental car reimbursement covers the cost of renting a car while your own is being repaired due to a covered issue.

Rental car insurance refers to insurance that covers any damage you may cause to the rental car itself while driving it.

Does Liability Insurance Cover Rental Car Damage?

man showing to his mad looking girlfriend a scratch on his car

Your regular insurance may also cover any rental cars you drive, but this is not always the case. Be sure to check with your insurance to see whether or not your rental is insured under your current plan. If not, most car rental companies offer to tack on insurance for an extra charge.

Do Credit Cards Provide Rental Car Insurance?

woman in a car signing on a tablet

Another option is to see whether or not your credit card offers rental car insurance. A surprising number of credit card companies, such as Visa, MasterCard, and AMEX will include coverage on any car you rent using their card.

What exactly this insurance covers, however, can vary widely from company to company. It’s best to reach out to your card provider directly for confirmation of what their coverage offers and how it works.

How Long Will Car Insurance Pay for Rental Car After Accident or Total Loss?

Female customer and modern stylish bearded businessman in the automobile salon

How long will insurance pay for your rental car? Unfortunately, the answer can vary widely based on the particular insurance company and policy. If you go through your own insurance, then your rental car may be covered until your car is fully repaired or until you have been compensated for its loss.

If you were not at fault and went through the other party’s insurance, then be sure to ask how long they will cover your rental. This may depend on the other party’s insurance limits or the company’s personal policies. It’s very important to know whether there are any limitations because you’ll most likely end up getting reimbursed after initially covering the costs out of pocket.

Best Auto Insurance Companies That Cover Rental Cars

A number of major auto insurance companies offer policies that also apply to rental cars. Each of the following options also offers optional rental reimbursement coverage.



If you add rental reimbursement to your Geico insurance policy, you can have Enterprise Rent-A-Car bill Geico directly for your rental. Additionally, your comprehensive and collision coverage through Geico will cover your rental car until your car is repaired.



Nationwide offers a full range of vehicle and personal auto insurance options to choose from. Their rental reimbursement not only covers rental cars, but also the public transportation costs that you may incur while your car is in the shop. You can also choose from additional solutions such as including towing and labor coverage and gap insurance.



Progressive has a nice range of options when it comes to selecting the best auto insurance for you. You can save when you bundle your auto insurance with home or renter’s insurance, compare quotes, or even see your options based on how much you want to pay. To opt-in to Progressive’s rental reimbursement coverage, you’ll typically need to have comprehensive and collision insurance as well.

State Farm

State Farm

When you add on rental reimbursement from State Farm, you can specify the amount of daily coverage you’d like to enjoy. If your accident occurs over 50 miles from home, you may also be able to qualify for travel expenses such as emergency lodging, meals, and even a return trip to pick up your car after repairs.

Whether you already have an auto insurance policy or are on the hunt for a new one, it never hurts to look into rental reimbursement options. For just a few extra dollars a month, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’ll always have options in case of an accident.

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The responses below are not provided, commissioned, reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any financial entity or advertiser. It is not the advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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