If you’re taking a trip, you may consider renting a vehicle. However, it’s important to understand that doing so is not as simple as just putting down a deposit, signing some paperwork and taking the keys.
The truth is that any time you drive any automobile, you need to consider the worst-case scenario. Very few people think about their insurance coverage when driving a rental vehicle, which may result in motorists owing thousands of dollars for accidents that occurred while they were not actually covered appropriately.
The proper precautions
Before you drive away in a rental vehicle, be sure to carefully review your contract. This document should explicitly state who is responsible in the event of an accident. Additionally, the agreement will include terms related to issues like vehicle defects and breakdowns. Even when a car problem is not your fault, some rental companies will require drivers to shoulder responsibility for the repairs, so make sure to read carefully. Don’t sign a contract if you are not comfortable with the terms.
You should also carefully examine your rental vehicle before you take possession of it. If you see any dents or dings, let the company know and be sure to put it in writing. You’ll want to make sure you are not blamed for these issues when you go to return the vehicle.
Finally, talk to your own insurance company about coverage when driving a rental vehicle. Many policies extend coverage to rental vehicles, but not all of them do. If your current policy does not provide coverage in this situation, make sure to buy additional insurance before you drive a rental car. In short, don’t ever drive without insurance.
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident while operating a rental vehicle in Florida, speak with a knowledgeable attorney at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh.