A Guide to Rental Reimbursement Coverage

You’re involved in an accident, your car is wrecked, and your insurer has stepped in to cover the damages. All is well, and you only have the deductible to worry about, but what happens before the car is fixed? How do you continue to get to work every day and take the kids to school when your car is in the repair shop for the next few days or weeks?

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That’s where rental car reimbursement coverage steps in. If you have this optional coverage on your car insurance policy, you won’t need to worry.

Keep reading to learn how this coverage option works.

Rental Car Reimbursement vs Rental Car Insurance

Before we go any further, it’s worth clarifying the potential confusion surrounding rental car coverage and rental car reimbursement coverage. The former includes damage waivers, property insurance, and liability coverage and protects you when you are driving a rental car.

You will be offered this type of insurance when you rent a car and can also get it through your current insurance policy or through your credit card, bank account or travel insurance.

As for rental car reimbursement, it is designed to cover the costs of renting a vehicle when your car is in the shop or has been stolen.

Rental car reimbursement only applies if your insurance company is paying for the repairs and those repairs are covered by your insurance policy. It is a coverage option that is typically only available to policyholders who have collision coverage or comprehensive coverage insurance.

What Does Rental Car Reimbursement Cover?

Rental car reimbursement is designed to cover the cost of a rental car, but there are limits. Most insurance companies will only cover you for 30 days and many also set a daily limit, often between $50 and $100. This means that you can’t claim for costs above this or for a rental period that extends beyond it.

In some states and in some situations, you may not even need to add rental reimbursement coverage to your policy as the at-fault driver could be responsible for your rental costs. In the event of a car accident caused by a fully-insured driver, their liability insurance may cover you for transportation costs, while also paying for the damage done to you and your vehicle.

However, there is a coverage limit that means they may not be liable for all the costs you pay to the rental car company. In such cases, having rental car reimbursement coverage on your policy will cover the difference and ensure you’re not out of pocket.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of rental reimbursement insurance differs from state to state and provider to provider. Your costs will also be higher if you are deemed to be a high-risk driver and have a history of at-fault accidents and insurance claims. Generally, however, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 or $4 a month extra to $15 or $20 a month extra.

It’s not a huge amount because the cover provided is very limited. For instance, at $50 a day over 30 days, the insurer’s liability is just $1,500, which is a fraction of the amount they can expect to lose with other coverage options.

How Does the Process Work?

You’re involved in a minor accident and your car is taken to the body shop, now what? If you have rental coverage, you can do one of the following:

1. Pay for it Yourself

When you pay for the vehicle yourself, you have more choice about what car you rent and from where you rent it, and you can also get it as soon as you need it. If you choose this option, just make sure you keep a record of all the costs so you can report these to the insurer and get your money back.

By choosing this method, you have more control and providing you have cover, you shouldn’t encounter any issues when seeking reimbursement. Get the rental vehicle you want, drive it off the lot, and wait for your car to be fixed and your expenses to be covered.

2. Let Your Insurance Company Do It

The second option, and the best option, is to go through your insurance company. They will contact the rental company on your behalf and deal with all of the red tape, ensuring you only get a car that you are fully covered for and providing you with all the necessary details at the same time.

By going through your insurer, you can avoid the hassle and they may even help you to get a better deal. 

It’s worth noting, however, that your insurer will not pay for additional rental car coverage like damage waivers. But as noted already, your auto policy may already provide you with the cover that you need.

Should You Get Additional Car Rental Reimbursement Coverage?

On average, you will use rental car coverage just once in a 10-year period, and you may only need it for a few days at a time. To determine whether this additional coverage option is right for you, simply calculate how much it will cost you on a monthly basis and then compare this to how much it is likely to offer you.

For instance, let’s assume that you are charged $10 a month for this additional option. This means you will pay $120 a year or $1,200 over ten years. Assuming you’re being offered a maximum of $50 per day for 30 days, this means the benefits are capped at $1,500.

If you’re paying $15 a month instead, that’s $180 a year, $1,800 a decade, and more than you will get back. And, in both cases, we’re assuming that you rent a car for the full 30 days at the maximum allowed price, which is somewhat rare. As a result, you can probably overlook this additional coverage option when those are the prices quoted.

Bottom Line: Choosing Insurance Coverage

From car rental coverage and rental car reimbursement to roadside assistance, new car replacement and more, there is no shortage of options for the average driver. 

But as tempting as it is to add all of these options to your auto insurance policy in the knowledge that you’ll be fully covered, the costs can spiral out of control very quickly. You could find yourself spending an excessive amount of money unnecessarily, and at a time when everyone is watching their budgets, that’s never a good thing.

Think about rental car reimbursement carefully and reject it if you don’t need it, even if it is only $10 or $20 extra a month.