So I Was Just In A Crash With A Rental Car- Now What?

With the “Big Game” coming up in a just a few weeks, our town is going to be inundated with out of town guests who are here to cheer their team to victory. Many will be renting cars. They will be unfamiliar with the roads. They will be experiencing all Vegas has to offer. They will be dazzled by the lights. They will be distracted. And, they will cause crashes.

So, you’re one of the unlucky locals (or guests) who have been injured by someone in a rental car. How does this effect your potential claim you might wonder. Well, wonder no more . . . .

Although similar to “regular” car crashes that don’t involve rental cars, there are a few different rules that apply. First, in Nevada, the rental car company is required by law to cover the renter of the vehicle with $25,000 of insurance. Rental car companies must provide the state minimum insurance. What the rental car company does not have to do is confirm the person it is renting the car to has his or her own insurance. It is not required to do a background check to ensure he or she is a safe driver. All it has to do is (1) ensure the renter has a valid license and (2) ensure the signature on the rental contract matches the signature on the license. That’s it.

Although the rental car company, by law, must provide $25,000 in insurance, that does not relieve the renter’s personal insurance (think Jake and his friends Mahomes and Maauto, LMU Emu and Doug, and Flo) from potentially having to pay for damages. The rental car mandatory insurance is primary, with the personal policy kicking in if the $25,000 is insufficient to cover the loses.

The rental car company cannot be held responsible because of the negligence of its renter. If the rental car company is negligent itself (think renting a car to someone who smells of bourbon and is holding a half empty Jack Daniels bottle while attempting to sign the rental car contract) it can be held liable. But, just because it is the owner/renter of the car does not create any liability and in fact the rental car industry is shielded from liability based on a federal law called the Graves Amendment.

What happens in a situation where the renter purchases that expensive extra coverage? Well, it is that amount of coverage that would apply. For example, if the renter purchases the supplemental insurance of $100,000, then the limit is $100,000. But, and this is a big but (and I can not lie- sorry, my 1980’s music love is showing), if the renter allows someone not authorized to drive the vehicle drive, and that person causes a crash, then the $100,000 is off the table. The rental car company still has to cover the first $25,000, but it is off the hook (in a bad way) for the $100,000.

So, what does this mean pragmatically to you, my dear reader (hi mom!). Well, a couple of things. First, unless the car was stolen or the renter did not give permission for the person who caused the crash to drive, there will be at least $25,000 in coverage. Second, GET THAT UNDERINSURED AND UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE I’ve been harping on for about a year. Don’t rely on others following the law or their rental car contract. Protect yourself so that if you need me I can help you.

Until next time, stay safe.