Who Pays for the Rental Car After an Accident? Quick, Straightforward Answers

When you get in a wreck on the road due to the negligence of the other driver, it’s likely your car is going to get damaged. The best-case scenario is that it’s cosmetic, superficial damage. You can continue to drive your car while you seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer for repairs. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to pursue compensation for diminished value to your vehicle.

If the damage is worse and you can’t drive your car for a period of time, finding alternative transportation is one of many steps after an accident you may need to take. Who’s going to pay for loss of use of your vehicle? Are you entitled to a rental vehicle?

You Need a Rental Car After an Accident — Who Pays Depends on a Few Key Facts

If you were at fault for the accident, your coverage will depend on the specifics of your policy. Consult your insurance agent to discuss your options.  Note that rental car coverage from your insurer is not necessarily included as part of your coverage just because you have full coverage.

If the other driver was at-fault, you are entitled to compensation. Compensation from a negligent driver is intended to make you whole again. That means you should receive enough money so that it’s like the damage you suffered never happened.

You would not be without a vehicle if not for the negligence of the other driver. Therefore, in order to make you whole again, the negligent driver’s insurer must cover your losses from being without your car. Alternatively, the at-fault insurer can provide a rental vehicle so you never suffer any loss of use to begin with. At-fault insurers generally choose to provide a rental car over the value of your loss of use because they get discounted rates on cars from rental agencies.

Note: The at-fault insurer is only required to pay for the rental until your vehicle is fixed or until they make an offer for the total loss of the vehicle.

How Quickly Will the Other Driver’s Insurer Pay?

Even if negotiations are successful and the at-fault insurer ends up providing you with a rental car, they will need to investigate your claim first, which will take time and may include stalling and other tactics from the insurer. What do you do without a car until the insurance company completes their investigation?

You can pay for the rental out of your own pocket and then seek reimbursement from the at-fault insurer later. However, there are certain expenses an insurance company is not required to pay for, so we urge you to speak with an attorney before you go this route. Your own insurance may also cover the cost of the rental car until then, but it depends on the specifics of your policy. The specific language of your policy will also dictate the money and time limits of coverage.

Tip: For insurance on the rental car, you may be covered by your own insurance, even if the car itself is provided by the at-fault insurer.

The at-fault driver's insurance typically pays for your rental after a car crash.


As you see, even seemingly straightforward questions of law can get complicated fast. Cutting through legal confusion is one of the best reasons to hire a car accident lawyer. If you need one of our attorneys to evaluate your case for free, call 1-866-900-7078 any time. Don’t leave money on the table.

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About the Author

Jeremy Maddox is a lead personal injury attorney for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in North Carolina. He was listed on the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch”a list by Best Lawyers in America in 2021, The National Trial Lawyers’ “Top 100 Trial Lawyers”b list in 2020 and 2021 and “Top 40 Under 40″B list in 2021, and the “Legal Elite”c list by Business North Carolina in 2021. Jeremy is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, and the 26th Judicial District Bar Association, as well as the North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

aFor more information regarding the standards for inclusion, please visit www.bestlawyers.com.

bFor more information regarding the standards for inclusion, please visit www.thenationaltriallawyers.org.

cFor more information regarding the standards for inclusion, please visit www.businessnc.com.