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What to Do After a Rental Car Accident In Michigan?

Steven Matz
November 17, 2022 | Car Accident

Key Takeaways

  • Being involved in a rental car accident brings with it unique challenges, and the outcome will depend largely on what type of insurance you have.
  • Even if you opt out of a rental company’s insurance, you may still be covered for damages by either your driver’s insurance policy or your credit card company.
  • Michigan’s no-fault insurance will cover medical expenses but not damage to property, including the rental vehicle. You will need to review your policy to see if you have property coverage elsewhere.
  • If you are in a rental car accident, get to safety immediately, collect evidence at the accident scene, notify first responders, obtain an accident report, and contact either the rental car company, your insurance provider, or credit card company.

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 that 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.

What Happens if You Crash a Rental Car in Michigan?

Crashing a rental car is unexpected and can happen quickly. However, you can take a deep breath, because even if you opted out of the rental company’s insurance policy, you are most likely still covered. After everyone involved sees a doctor, and arrives home, you will have a couple of calls to make. To help you see how your situation can go, we cover three best case scenarios next.

grey car after rear end accident

Can You Receive Compensation After an Accident in a Rental Vehicle?

In most cases, you should be able to receive coverage and possibly even compensation after your rental car accident. Be sure to weigh your options and consider talking with a lawyer who specializes in car accident and insurance law so you feel more confident going forward.

Scenario 1: You Crash a Rental Car and Opted for Coverage

While driving through the downtown area of a highly populated Michigan city, another driver runs a red light and crashes into the rental car you are driving, resulting in significant damage.

Fortunately, you opted for comprehensive coverage with the rental agency, including Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Liability Insurance. Since the accident was not your fault, you will not be held liable for the damages. The car rental company will take responsibility for covering the cost of repairs to the rental car, including towing and storage fees.

With this in mind, you notify the rental company’s emergency number immediately after the accident, and they guide you through the claims process, providing necessary documentation and arranging for a replacement vehicle.

While the rental car is in the shop for repairs, you are provided with a comparable replacement vehicle at no additional charge, allowing your trip to continue uninterrupted.

After a few days, the rental car is repaired, and you return the replacement vehicle. The rental company informs you that there are no additional charges or fees for the accident.

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Scenario 2: You Crash a Rental Car, and Your Original Insurance Covers the Accident

While driving a rental car, you accidentally slam into the back of another vehicle at a stop sign, resulting in damage to both cars. Having declined the rental company’s insurance coverage, you are solely reliant on your own car insurance policy and its rental coverage to take care of the damages. As the at-fault party, however, you may be responsible for covering the deductible and any expenses beyond your policy limits.

As you would with your own personal vehicle, you promptly report the accident to your auto insurance company, which initiates the claims process.

At this point, you understand that your insurance covers the cost of repairs to both vehicles up to the limits specified in your policy. You are still responsible for paying the deductible amount out of pocket, however.

Will You Have to Pay For a Replacement Vehicle?

While the rental car is being repaired, you also may have to cover the costs of a replacement vehicle or alternate transportation.

Once the repairs are complete, you then return the rental car, and the rental company assesses any additional charges, such as loss of use or administrative fees.

In this scenario, not opting for the rental company’s insurance coverage and being at fault for the accident means relying solely on your personal auto insurance policy. While your insurance coverage provides financial protection, you may still face out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and potential increases in insurance premiums.

Understanding your insurance policy and promptly reporting accidents are crucial steps in managing the aftermath of a rental car accident.

Scenario 3: You Crash a Rental Car, and Your Credit Card Covers Rental Car Insurance

Did you know that having coverage through your credit card can provide a safety net? Below is a hypothetical scenario to understand how this situation might unfold.

While navigating through Michigan’s scenic routes, you find yourself involved in a collision with another vehicle, causing damage to the rental car you are driving. Fortunately, you opted to pay for the rental car using one of your credit cards that includes rental car insurance coverage as a benefit. This coverage will kick in, providing protection for the damages to the rental car, and includes both Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Liability Insurance.

Are You Required to Pay For Rental Vehicle Damage After an Accident?

Since the accident wasn’t your fault, you are not held liable for the damages, and your credit card’s insurance coverage handles the entire claim process.

You notify your credit card company immediately about the accident, and they guide you through the necessary steps to file a claim. They will cover the cost of repairs to the rental car, sparing you from out-of-pocket expenses.

Rental Vehicle Protection Through Credit Cards Covers Replacement Vehicle

During the repair period, the rental company may provide you with a replacement vehicle at no additional cost, helping you continue your travel plans without delay.

Once the rental car is repaired, you return it to the rental company, and there are no additional charges or fees assessed to you.

In this scenario, having rental car insurance coverage through your credit card proves invaluable, offering financial protection and peace of mind during a stressful situation.

By understanding the benefits provided by your credit card and promptly contacting them after an accident, you, as the renter, can navigate through the aftermath of a rental car accident with minimal hassle.

Overall Thoughts On What to Do if You Were in a Rental Car Accident

Following a rental car accident, treat it as if it were your own vehicle. The only difference will be in who you contact first. You will need to contact either the rental car agency, your own car insurance company, or your credit card company, depending on the type of coverage you choose when initiating the rental.

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)

If you added a loss damage waiver (LDW) to your car rental agreement, as long as you followed all the terms and conditions of that agreement, you are waived of financial responsibility for damage to the rental vehicle. If not, know that there are other options available to you.

Also, don’t panic. The first priority is you and your passengers’ health and safety. Once these are attended to, it will then be time to make that call and file the all-important insurance claim to start the repair process. Take the time to review all insurance information, including your own insurance company policy and the rental contract itself so that you do not feel left out and can avoid any undue surprises.

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

Matz Injury Law has been serving Michigan clients for decades, earning over $300 million on their behalf. Each case is handled by one of our partners directly, so you never feel left out or relegated to a lower associate. Our law firm is compassionately dedicated to personal injury victims, and we strive for the best possible outcome for each case, which has prompted many clients to provide emotional testimonials. We share three of those below.


“For anyone looking for an attorney, please look no further than Matz Injury Law. Not only was Jared professional, he helped me beyond what I could have asked for. I’m so thankful for you all!!! To say I’m appreciative and grateful is an understatement. There’s no need to look for any other attorneys for you auto accidents!! They are so wonderful!!! Highly recommend 10/10!!!!!” – Tessa C.

“Following a near head-on collision that left my wife with serious injuries to her leg and a head injury from the airbag that caused “instant onset dementia,” she has been deteriorating and needs constant supervision. Hats off to Steve Matz and all the work he and his firm have done to secure the compensation needed from the insurance company to facilitate her care. Without his tireless help, I don’t know where we would be today. I highly recommend Matz Injury Law and, if needed, would definitely utilize the firm again.” – Thomas C.

“Steve Matz is wonderful. He’s brilliant and dedicated. He will fight for you and keep you informed the entire way. Completely trustworthy. I recommend him to all seeking legal help.” – Linda B.

Matz Injury Law: Rental Car Accident Lawyers Who Care

If you are in a rental car accident, call the 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

During the process of renting a car in Michigan, you have the choice to purchase certain types of auto insurance. These types include the following.

  • Collision Damage Waiver: This waiver will protect you against liability should the rental vehicle be damaged or stolen, waiving the right of the rental company to sue you for damages.
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance: Supplemental coverage will pay for damage that you cause to other property or people (including medical expenses) and is additional coverage to supplement your own no-fault insurance.
  • Personal Effects Coverage: Personal effects coverage can provide reimbursement for the loss of personal valuables from a rental car but will be redundant should you already have a homeowner’s or rental insurance policy that covers off-premises belongings.
  • Personal Accident Coverage: Personal accident insurance covers driver and passenger medical expenses should you be in a rental vehicle accident and can supplement your Michigan no-fault PIP insurance coverage.
Does My Credit Card Cover Car Rental Accidents in Michigan?

As discussed, if you use your credit card to pay for a car rental, you may be covered if involved in an accident. This coverage will commonly be supplemental to your existing insurance policy. In some instances, the credit card company may step up and pay damages before your insurance company becomes involved. Credit card companies offer different types of coverage, however, so always be sure to check beforehand.

When Should I Purchase Supplemental Rental Car Insurance?

It is recommended that you purchase supplemental rental car insurance, especially if you find yourself in any of the following situations.

  • Drivers not covered by existing insurance: If any driver of the rental vehicle does not carry high-quality auto accident insurance already, purchasing the supplemental policy can be a protective measure.
  • Rentals lasting more than 30 days: If you extend a car rental to 30 days or longer, Michigan law considers you in a lease and the owner of the vehicle, which is not covered under no-fault PIP insurance here.
What Steps Should I Take Immediately After a Rental Car Accident?

The steps you need to take immediately following a rental car accident include:

  1.  Get to safety immediately: If possible, move the rental vehicle off the roadway, get all passengers to a safe location, and set out reflectors or flares to alert oncoming traffic of the dangers.
  2.  Collect evidence: Take several different photographs (e.g., of the accident scene, damages to all involved vehicles, and any injuries), exchange information with the other driver, and obtain witness contact information.
  3. Notify first responders: Call 911 immediately to obtain medical attention for all involved and to start a paper trail of medical treatment.
  4. Report the accident to the police: Report your accident to the police, and when you are able, obtain a copy of their written record.
  5. Contact the rental car company: Inform the rental car company of the accident at the contact number provided in the rental agreement.
  6. Call your insurance provider: Notify your own insurance provider about the rental car accident and start your PIP claim.
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.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.