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What to Do if Your Rental Car Was in an Accident

Steven Matz
November 17, 2022 | Car Accident

Whether you are visiting family or enjoying Michigan’s picturesque beach towns, the Great Lakes State has tons to offer visitors. However, if you plan to visit in the winter, snowy and icy roads increase your chances of getting into a car accident. From out-of-town drivers who are not used to the weather to local motorists who are far too cavalier about it, any number of factors can cause horrible accidents.

If you are in a Michigan car accident someone else causes, you deserve fair compensation for your injuries. It can be difficult, however, when the insurance agent tries to get out of paying your claim or tries to bully you into accepting an insufficient offer. Matz Injury Law is here to help you get the compensation you deserve in the event of a rental car accident. Whether you need guidance on Michigan laws because you are from out of state, you are unfamiliar with rental car accident liability, or you need someone to fight back against the insurance company, we are here to help.

Does Michigan No-Fault Insurance Cover Rental Car Accidents?

Michigan is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. This means your own insurance policy covers part of your damages regardless of who caused the accident. If you have a Michigan no-fault insurance policy, your lifetime medical expenses will be covered after an accident, even if you are in a rental car. This applies regardless of whether you have supplemental rental car insurance.

A no-fault policy does not, however, cover property damage or theft. You should examine your auto insurance policy to see if it includes rental car coverage for property damage. You should also review your deductible to know the amount you need to pay out of pocket. If you have been in a rental car accident in Michigan and are unsure of your next steps, a Michigan rental car accident attorney at Matz Injury Law can help. Call us at 866-226-6833 or use our easy online form to get in touch for legal advice and a free consultation today.

car being rear ended

What Type of Auto Insurance Is Available for Rental Cars in Michigan?

Michigan law only offers benefits for specific types of damages after a car accident. The supplemental rental car insurance and collision coverage you purchase when you visit a rental car company will define your coverage.

Collision Damage Waiver

A collision damage waiver protects you against liability if the rental vehicle is stolen or damaged. In such a case, the rental company waives its right to sue the driver for damages related to the rental period. It is wise to get such a waiver, as no-fault insurance in Michigan does not cover this.

Supplemental Liability Insurance

Supplemental liability coverage pays for damage that you cause to other people or property, as well as paying for medical expenses other people incur from injury during an accident that you cause. This type of insurance comes with limits as high as $1 million. This serves as additional coverage that supplements your no-fault insurance, particularly if you have minimum limits on PIP.

Personal Effects Coverage

Personal effects coverage offers reimbursement for the loss of personal valuables stolen from a rental car. If you have a homeowner’s or rental insurance policy that covers off-premises personal belongings, this insurance is unnecessary.

Personal Accident Coverage

Personal accident insurance covers medical expenses for you and your passengers if any of you get injured while in a rental vehicle. Michigan no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers medical costs in car accidents affecting Michigan drivers within the United States or Canada. However, policies with limited benefits might not cover your full damages.

Does My Credit Card Cover Car Rental Accidents?

If you used a credit card to pay for a car rental, you might have some degree of protection for rental car accidents. This coverage widely varies by the original credit card provider. Some cards offer supplemental coverage if you have an existing primary insurance policy. Some will pay for damages before the insurance company gets involved.

Very few credit card providers will cover all rental vehicles. Most, for example, have exclusions for luxury cars, trailers, motorcycles, or RVs. In the end, check with your credit card provider before you rent a car to see if they offer extra coverage following an auto accident. A little knowledge here can save you thousands of dollars of surprise out-of-pocket expenses.

When Should I Purchase Supplemental Rental Car Insurance?

There are several situations where it is a good idea to purchase additional insurance from the rental company. If any of these apply to you, you should absolutely look into it.

Drivers Not Covered by Existing Insurance

If you do not have a good auto accident insurance policy, you should definitely purchase supplemental insurance in case of a rental car accident. A car crash can leave you in dire financial straits, and having insurance is essential to protect you.

Rentals Lasting More Than 30 Days

If you are taking on an extended car rental, you should grab extra coverage. This is because, under Michigan law, a lease of 30 days or more makes you an owner of the vehicle. Your Michigan no-fault PIP insurance policy does not cover you in cases of long-term car leases, so if you are in an auto accident, you will need this protection.

People Wishing to Protect Their Property

No-fault insurance has nothing whatsoever to do with property damage, including the car and any personal property you have in the car. If you want protection against the loss of your purse, cell phone, or other valuables you might lose from theft or an accident, this is essential coverage.

Can Out-of-Staters Receive Michigan’s No-Fault Benefits?

This is an excellent question and an important thing to know. The answer is no. Out-of-state drivers do not benefit from Michigan’s no-fault laws. Only those people who operate a vehicle registered and insured in the state of Michigan receive Michigan’s no-fault benefits. This is a relatively recent development, as out-of-state residents could receive PIP benefits before the passing of Public Acts 21 and 22.

Depending on the laws of your home state, out-of-staters may need to sue for damages if they are in a car accident. This requires proving negligence on the part of the at-fault driver and proving that you are 50% or less at fault for the accident. You will also need to demonstrate that you have a “threshold injury,” meaning a bodily injury that is severe enough that it impacts your daily life. Accomplishing this often requires help from experienced personal injury lawyers like those at Matz Injury Law.

Find Yourself in a Rental Car Accident? Here’s What to Do

The first and most important thing to remember if you are in a rental car accident in Michigan is that you should treat it just like any other vehicle accident. Keep a cool, calm head, and take the following steps.

Get to Safety Immediately

If the cars are drivable, get them off the road to help prevent further harm from drivers coming down the road. If you can, get passengers to safety. If, however, someone has suffered a serious bodily injury, do not move them until medical professionals arrive on the scene. If you can, put out road flares or reflectors to alert oncoming traffic of the dangers. The first key is to get everyone out of immediate danger.

Collect Evidence

Photograph the scene from as many angles as possible. Make notes while the accident is fresh in your mind. Take pictures of the damage. Get contact information from witnesses willing to testify to what they have seen. Exchange information with the other driver.

Notify First Responders

Call 911 immediately. This is important because you want everyone to get medical attention. This includes you, even if you do not think you are injured. Some injuries can take days, weeks, or even months to show symptoms, and a quick diagnosis can help prevent them from worsening. Getting attention at the scene also creates a medical record that shows you take the situation seriously.

Report the Accident to the Police

Notifying first responders accomplishes a second goal as well: It allows you to report the incident to the police. Michigan law requires you to report any accident with injuries or property damage exceeding $1,000.

Contact the Rental Car Company

Next, let the rental car company know about the accident. This may be a part of your rental car agreement. In any case, especially if you have signed up for supplemental coverage, it’s essential to let the company that owns the vehicle know what happened.

Call Your Insurance Provider

Next, let your insurance company know about the accident. Again, many insurance companies require you to report all accidents to keep your coverage in place. You will also need to start your PIP claim. However, understand you do not have to speak to the insurance company after reporting the accident. You can direct them to your car accident lawyer at Matz Injury Law for further communications.

Matz Injury Law: Rental Car Accident Lawyers Who Care

If you find yourself in a rental car accident, you can call dependable car accident attorneys at Matz Injury Law. We have won millions of dollars for our Michigan clients over the years and will fight tenaciously for your right to fair compensation. Call us at 1-866-22Not33 or use our online contact form for a free consultation today. There’s no disclaimer and no obligation. We are ready to fight for you.

You can also read more about what to do if you were injured by a federally owned vehicle here.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

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