Having accidents in a rental car is, no doubt, the last thing anybody wants to experience. However, as the saying goes, accidents can always happen anytime and anywhere.
So, let’s say you hired a car from the rental company and end up accidentally damaging it. Often, after the incident, you’ll have to return the vehicle to the company and of course, expect them to charge you for the damages.
So, here’s a burning question, how long will the rental car company have to charge you for the damages?
According to civil law, a rental car company has up to 2 years to charge you for damages done on their vehicle. However, you need to understand that the duration varies from state to state. Of course, the company can always file for property damage after two years, but this time, you can always call for dismissal.
What will happen when you return a hire car with damage? How long will you get to be on the hook for the damages to the rental vehicle? What will happen if you damage a rental car without insurance? Read on to find answers to these burning questions and more.
What Happens If You Return a Rental Car With Damage?
So, what exactly will happen if you return a rental car with damages to the agency? The short answer to the question is – you’ll have to pay for the damages done to the vehicle.
However, you need to understand that when it comes to paying for the extra charges for damages, a few factors are always considered.
According to most (if not all) rental car companies, as part of the contract to hire a car, you’ll need to sign a document that requires you to return the car in the same condition you met it before hiring.
By damaging any part of the car, it means the rental car company has the legal right to bill you for extra charges. Unfortunately, these charges are usually very high and can be up to tens of thousands of dollars – depending on the damages. Even the smallest scratches on the vehicle may require you to pay hundreds of dollars.
In addition to signing legal documents and paying for a rental car, another thing you don’t want to miss out on is getting to know all the damages on the car before agreeing to pick them for your vacation. This move will save you a lot of trouble in the case you end up being charged for damages to the car. Of course, this also includes taking pictures (if possible videos) of the damaged areas on the vehicle.
How do you clear the extra charges for damages?
So, how exactly will you get to pay the extra bills for damages done on the rental car?
One of the few options is to use your insurance company.
- Rental car insurance
Currently, there are millions of rental cars in the US. In addition to that, rental car accidents happen a lot. Since the agencies know about that, they usually provide their customers with several different types of insurance.
Some of the common options are supplemental liability protection and personal accident insurance. That said, with rental car insurance, you surely don’t need to worry about the extra charges, as the insurance will cover the bill for you.
- Personal insurance
There might not be a need to opt for rental car insurance if you have reliable personal insurance that covers rental cars.
In case you have one, then you wouldn’t need to worry too much about the extra cost charged for the damages. All you need to do is talk to your insurance company about the accident and let them handle the situation.
- Credit Card Insurance
Most credit card companies often offer their customers rental car insurance coverage if they use their cards to pay for rental cars. If you’re fortunate to have your credit card insurance include liability coverage, then you don’t need to worry too much. The insurance will cover parts of the bills for the damages.
Bottom line: If you end up returning a car with damages, the rental car company will bill you and you’ll have to pay. You also need to understand that it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re the one at fault for the accident. Furthermore reliable insurance, you can always rely on the insurance company to sort out the bill.
If at all you’re not the one at fault, your insurance company will be in charge of going after the party responsible for the accident. This way, they’ll always get reimbursed back for every penny given to the car rental company.
How Long Are You on the Hook for the Damages?
As soon as the rental car company sends you the bill for the damages, you need to send it directly to your car insurer so they can pay the bills immediately. Alternatively, you can send the bills to your credit card benefits administrator – of course, that’s if you have valid rental car insurance from your credit card company.
That said, as long as the bills have already been settled with evidence, you’ll be free from hooks for the damages. This will eliminate every move by the agency to have your name listed on the Do Not Rent (DNR).
Note: the rental car agency has up to two years to charge you for the damages on the rental car, depending on your state.
What Happens If You Damage a Rental Car Without Any Insurance?
So far, I’ve been able to talk about the consequences of damaging a rental car when you have insurance. But what exactly will happen if you don’t have any insurance to cover the bill?
Let me start by saying you shouldn’t go for a rental car when you don’t have insurance. However, in the case where you’ve already done that, you may be in for very big trouble.
Of course, before a rental car company can give you access to its vehicle without insurance, they will confirm that your credit card is capable of catering to any damage made to the car. With that, it means you’ll have to pay for every penny from your pocket.