There are many facts that you need to know about rental car accident claims. Without this information, the insurance company may offer you a smaller rental car accident settlement.
Here, I’m going to talk about rental car accident claims from A to Z. We’ll also explore many rental car accident settlements.
Table of contents
- $170K Settlement with Thrifty Car Rental/ESIS (2019)
- Surgery was the biggest reason why we got a $170K Settlement
- $10K Rental Car Accident Settlement (2020)
- Rental Car is Covered with $10K in PIP Benefits (Florida)
- PIP and Bodily Injury Claims Have Many Differences
- If you’re a passenger in a rental car, can you get compensation if the rental car driver is partially at fault and doesn’t have enough BIL coverage to pay for your claim?
- Is Bodily Injury Insurance Required on Florida Rental Cars?
- Who insures Thrifty Car Rental?
- Which Rental Car Companies Offer $1 Million in Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
- Which Injuries May Be Worth $1 Million or More?
- Rental Car Occupants Should Not Quickly Settle With the At Fault Driver
- Which Rental Car Companies Offer $100K in UM Coverage in Florida?
- Does Avis or Budget Rent a Car Offer Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
- Some Other Rental Car Companies Don’t Offer UM Coverage (in Florida)
- $10K for Rental Car Accident Settlement (Hertz Pays $2K)
- Uninsured Motorist Insurance is Not Required on Florida Rental Cars
- Will a rental car driver’s personal Florida Uninsured Motorist liability policy cover a passenger?
- Does Someone Who Isn’t a Resident Relative Get Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
- Will the rental car’s insurance pay you if the rental car driver was drunk and injures you?
- Out of State Visitors Can Use PIP to Repay Medpay
$170K Settlement with Thrifty Car Rental/ESIS (2019)
Jessie rented a car with Thrifty in Florida.
On June 30, 2018, Jessie was driving the rental car. Zach was in the back seat. Jessie was heading straight on a road in Sarasota, Florida. He crashed into the back of the car that was in front of him.
As a result of the impact, Zach’s arm struck either the window or the seat in front of him.
Here is the rental car after the accident.
Paramedics took him to the hospital. As a result of the car accident, he broke his upper arm bone (humerus). At the hospital, someone took a photo of Zach.
Zach was a minor at the time of the crash. Thus, his mom began looking for a car accident lawyer who had experience with similar claims.
She hired me as his personal injury attorney to make a claim against the company who insured the rental car driver. ESIS (Ace American Insurance Company) insured the rental car driver with bodily injury liability coverage.
The rental car driver had his own auto insurance with GEICO. However, the rental car insurance pays before the personal auto insurance.
After doctor performed surgery on to fix his arm, he had a scar.
His scar was big. However, the scar wasn’t the biggest part of the claim.
Surgery was the biggest reason why we got a $170K Settlement
The most valuable part of the claim was that he had surgery to fix a fracture. Surgery increases the full settlement value of a car accident case.
Within 8 months of the accident, ESIS (Ace) paid us $170,000 to settle Zach’s injury claim. Here are the two checks totaling $170,000:
Thrifty is a Hertz Company.
Some people assume that most of the personal injury settlement is paid to the attorney. This isn’t true.
Zach received about $113,000 in his pocket (after medical bills were paid, and my attorney’s fees and costs). That means that he got over 66% of the total personal injury settlement in his pocket!
You can read more about this $170,000 personal injury settlement.
$10K Rental Car Accident Settlement (2020)
In March 2019, Lamar was driving his car in a Wendy’s drive thru lane in Oakland Park, Broward County, Florida.
Joan was driving a car and crashed into the back of Lamar’s car. After the crash, Lamar took this photo of the damage to his car.
As you can see from the photo, this was a big hit.
I’ve repeated this over and over:
Big property damage often leads to a bigger car accident settlement.
On the crash report, the owner of the car that Ashley was driving was PV Holding. PV Holding is the parent company for Avis Rent a Car.
After the car accident, Lamar went to the hospital. He then followed up with a doctor and got therapy.
Segwick handled the claim for Avis Car Rental. I sent a letter requesting the bodily injury liability coverage on the rental car.
Avis responded with their insurance disclosure under oath. We learned that Ashley was not the person who rented the car. Eugene had rented the car.
74% of the car accident settlement was for pain and suffering
When Eugene rented the car, he did not list Ashley as an additional driver. And since Ashley wasn’t married to Eugene, Sedgwick did not offer bodily injury liability coverage above $10,000. Unfortunately, this is the law.
This is true even though Eugune purchased Additional Liability Insurance (ALI) with Avis.
In January 2020, I reached a car accident settlement with Sedgwick for its $10,000 policy limits. Here is the check:
This is the most that we could get. Unfortunately, there was no other additional insurance available. Approximately $7,400 of the total settlement was for Lamar’s pain and suffering.
After my attorney’s fees and costs, and paying his medical bills, Lamar got over $4,000 in his pocket. And his attorney (me) did all the work. He was very happy with the car accident settlement.
Rental Car is Covered with $10K in PIP Benefits (Florida)
A Florida rental car occupant is entitled to up to $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. This is true regardless of fault.
Here is an example:
If the PIP portion paid $8,000 for your medical bills, then the most PIP will pay is $2,000 if you can’t work. PIP pays medical bills at 80% of the reasonable charge.
The $10,000 applies even if you did not purchase rental car insurance. PIP applies regardless of whether you are a visitor to Florida or a resident of the state.
The exception to these PIP benefits is that if you are already covered by PIP, then that PIP will pay $10,000 in benefits instead of the rental car’s PIP.
PIP and Bodily Injury Claims Have Many Differences
PIP coverage is very different than bodily injury liability coverage. For starters, the PIP claim and the bodily injury liability (BIL) claim will have different claim numbers. Don’t confuse them. Otherwise, your documents may not get to the correct adjuster. And this can delay payment of your bills and settlement.
The rental car’s BIL coverage covers people who are injured due to the rental car driver’s negligence.
Rental car companies use an independent company to handle certain portions of the accident claim. For example, Hertz Rent a Car, uses ESIS to handle PIP and BIL claims. ESIS lets the PIP adjuster look at the BIL claim file to view medical bills and records. However, ESIS does not allow the BIL adjuster to view the PIP medical records and bills.
Hertz uses ESIS to handle its rental car accident claims. ESIS is a third party administrator (TPA).
ESIS uses approximately seven claim adjusters for all of its Hertz rental car PIP claims in the United States. However, if the someone was driving the rental car as part of the Lyft or Uber program, an ESIS claim adjuster will not handle the PIP claim. In this scenario, you will be dealing with Uber or Lyft’s insurance company’s claim adjuster.
If you’re a passenger in a rental car, can you get compensation if the rental car driver is partially at fault and doesn’t have enough BIL coverage to pay for your claim?
Let’s assume you’re a passenger in a rental car that your friend Jeff is driving in Florida. Assume that Jeff has a GEICO family auto insurance policy.
Assume that David is driving a car in the same direction and cuts you off. As a result, you crash and are injured.
Let’s assume that both Jeff and David are at fault. Assume that you break both of your forearm bones at the shaft (middle of the bone). The doctor puts a plate and screws in your radius (one of your forearm bones) bone. Your other forearm bone (ulna) does not need surgery.
Here, you can make a personal injury claim against both Jeff and David. However, they are only responsible for their percentage of fault. So, if they are each 50% liable for the accident, each insurance company only has to pay you for 50% of the value of your claim.
Hopefully, both Jeff and David both have a good amount of BIL coverage. You don’t want one of them to have a huge policy limit, and the other to have a small BIL limit.
Why don’t you want one car (in the accident) to have a high insurance limit and another to have a low limit?
Because there likely won’t be enough insurance to pay for the fair value of your personal injury case. I am still using the facts from the example above.
Let me explain. Let’s assume that the other car (David) has a $1 million bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance limit. But Jeff only has $20,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage in his GEICO auto insurance policy.
(Let’s assume that you don’t own a car.)
Since you are badly injured, and Jeff is 50% at fault, his insurance company (GEICO) will likely pay you the $25,000 policy limits quickly. Here, they’ll probably do this once they get a record or bill showing that you’ve had screws and a plate put in your body.
You can also make a personal injury claim against David’s insurance company. But since David is only 50% at fault, his insurance company only owes you 50% of the full value of your case. We’ll assume that your out of pocket medical bills are $50,000. We’ll also assume that your forearm heals well.
If you’re case is worth between $200,000 and $250,000, David’s insurance company, David’s insurance company only owes you half of that. Again, this is because David was 50% at fault. Basically, David’s insurance company owes you around $115,000 or so.
But this means that you won’t be fully compensated for your case. While David’s insurance company paid you the fair value of David’s responsibility for your injury, Jeff’s insurance company (GEIC0) will only paying you $25,000 when you’re case against Jeff is worth $115,000.
This is why you want both insurers to have a good coverage limit.
Is there any hope for you in this scenario?
Yes, perhaps Jeff lives with a relative who also had BIL coverage on his vehicle. That may pay you.
You may want to ask Jeff to complete an form (affidavit) that tells you who he lived with and whether they have insurance coverage. Here is an affidavit that I may send to rental car driver (Jeff) in this scenario. I may change it based on the particular facts of the case.
Is Bodily Injury Insurance Required on Florida Rental Cars?
Possibly. Some Florida rental car companies say that they’ll provide $10,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage.
For example, Sedgwick handles Avis and Budget’s car insurance. Sedgwick says that for Avis and Budget:
“We will provide coverage up to Florida’s financial responsibility limits of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident, and $10,000 aggregate property damage for third party liability.”
However, if the rental car driver has his or her own BIL coverage, then the rental car’s $10,000 BIL coverage does NOT apply. A Sedgwick BIL adjuster has told me this before.
ESIS handles Thrifty’s claims.
ESIS says that Thrifty provides $10,000 in bodily injury liability insurance. I assume Hertz does because I believe they are part of the Thrifty’s parent company.
However, if the rental car driver has his or her own BIL coverage, then the rental car’s $10,000 BIL coverage doesn’t apply.
Drivers who rent a car can elect (purchase) to Liability Insurance Supplement (LIS).
LIS provides protection from liability for third party automobile claims.
Let’s look at LIS insurance from one of the bigger rental car companies, Thrifty.
Who insures Thrifty Car Rental?
Ace American Insurance insures Thrifty. ESIS handles Thrifty’s car accident claims and settlements.
In 2016, ACE Limited bought Chubb, creating the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. There is a low chance that ACE or Chubb go broke.
Why does this matter?
If an insurance company becomes bankrupt in Florida, the injured person is likely limited to $300,000.
Thrifty Car Rental is a subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation.
At one time, Thrifty used to operate as Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. Thrifty shares 340 corporate and 1,500 franchise rental car locations in the United States and Canada with Dollar Rent A Car as of February 2017.
If the renter elects Thrifty’s LIS, it provides protection from liability for third party auto claims for the the difference between the liability limits in the Rental Agreement and the maximum combined single limit of $1,000,000 for bodily injury, including death and property damage.
In California and Florida, the coverage is bigger. On rentals in Florida, the maximum combined single limit is $2,000,000 for liability protection.
Which Rental Car Companies Offer $1 Million in Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
The UM/UIM coverage applies (while occupying the car) for bodily injury and property damage.
Who insures Thrifty, Dollar and Hertz?
Ace American Insurance insures Thrifty. You should hire an attorney that can show you his past settlements with Ace. I’ve settled case with Ace. ESIS handles Thrifty’s rental car accident claims and settlements.
Most uninsured motorist cases aren’t worth anywhere near $1 million. That is a lot of money.
Which Injuries May Be Worth $1 Million or More?
Some claims may be worth $1 million (or more). The most common cases that have a full settlement value above $1 million (or more) are if you’ve suffered one of the following:
- Brain injury that required surgery to your skull
- Several surgeries to a body part and you’ve developed chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Paralysis from the waist or neck down
- Above the knee Amputation, or arm amputation
Why does a brain injury (with surgery) case have a full settlement value of over $1 million?
First, the hospital charges may easily be over $500,000. Additionally, the neurosurgeon and other doctors will have high bills.
But the bigger damage is for pain and suffering. Additionally, if the injured person was a big wage earner, that adds tremendous value. The past lost wage claim will be big. The future lost earning capacity claim may be even bigger.
Rental Car Occupants Should Not Quickly Settle With the At Fault Driver
Assume that the at fault driver has $50,000 in BIL coverage. Assume that the an injured rental car occupant has a brain injury and surgery. Here, the injured person’s claim is worth much more than the at fault driver’s $50,000 BIL coverage limit. In this instance, he or she should not quickly settle his or her injury case for $50,000 with the at fault driver.
First, the injured person does not want to give up the right to make a UM claim. This can happen if the you don’t follow a particular UM claim procedure. The tourist can also lose his UM claim if the settlement release with the at fault driver’s insurer is poorly worded.
Second, the injured person does not want to end up in Federal court. He or she wants to keep the case in Florida state court. There are many advantages to keeping your case state court (instead of Federal court).
Which Rental Car Companies Offer $100K in UM Coverage in Florida?
Alamo Rent a Car and National Car Rental. If you rented a car from Alamo Rent a Car, hopefully you purchased Extended Protection (EP). EP is optional. It is not required.
EP includes UM/UIM coverage for bodily injury and property damage in an amount equal to the minimum financial responsibility limits applicable to the Vehicle (the Primary Protection).
EP also includes additional coverage through an excess liability policy, with limits for the difference between the statutory minimum underlying limits and $100,000 per accident.
Again, Florida doesn’t have a minimum UM limit. Thus, Alamo’s UM limit is $100,000 per accident.
Like Alamo’s EP insurance coverage is underwritten by Ace American Insurance Company.
National Car Rental also offers $100,000 in UM coverage if the renter purchased Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI).
Does Avis or Budget Rent a Car Offer Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
I’m not sure if Budget Rent a Car’s Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) includes Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist coverage.
However, Florida doesn’t require UM coverage. Thus, I assume Budget’s SLI does not have UM coverage. However, I’m not sure.
Avis’ website says that Additional Liability Insurance does not include UM/UIM coverage except in states where mandated by law up to maximum amount of $100,000 or in such amounts as mandated by law.
Thus, I assume that Avis does not offer UM coverage in Florida.
Some Other Rental Car Companies Don’t Offer UM Coverage (in Florida)
Unfortunately, some Florida rental car companies don’t offer uninsured motorist coverage. This is true even if you purchase LIS coverage when you rent a car.
For example, I’ve seen small (mom and pop) rental not offer UM coverage. Also, in Enterprise Rent a Car accident claims, Enterprise likely has no UM coverage. Similarly, Sixt Advantage Rent a Car doesn’t offer UM coverage.
Basically, if you want to be able to make an UM claim for a car accident in Florida, don’t rent a car through Sixt or Advantage Rent a Car.
Sixt Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) is underwritten by ACE USA.
$10K for Rental Car Accident Settlement (Hertz Pays $2K)
Olga was driving a car (vehicle 2 in the diagram) heading north on Interstate 95 (I-95). Above, you can see the diagram from the actual Florida traffic crash report. She was driving in the first lane from the left shoulder of the road.
The driver of Vehicle 6 stopped in the roadway after he ran out of gas. The driver of Vehicle 3 and Vehicle 4 stopped for Vehicle 6. Hertz Car Rental owned vehicle 6.
Juan, the driver of Vehicle 1, attempted to change lanes to avoid hitting vehicle 3. However, vehicle 1 went directly into the path of Olga. Olga then collided into the rear of vehicle 1 with her car’s right front.
The motorcycle driver attempted to pass between Olga and vehicle 3. This caused a sideswipe collision with the right side of Olga’s car.
After the collision, the motorcyclist continued traveling northbound and collided into the rear of vehicle 4. This caused both the driver and passenger to fly off the motorcycle.
All the vehicles were removed from their final rest upon the reporting officer’s arrival with the assistance of the road rangers.
Vehicle 6 vehicle was not involved in the accident.
3 Different Drivers Got Tickets for Moving Violations
Juan received a ticket for improper change of lane, and pulling out in front of a vehicle. Florida Statute 316.085(2).
Carlos, the driver of vehicle 5, got a ticket for careless driving. His vehicle was uninsured.
The driver of vehicle 6 was charged with improper stopping/standing/parking. He was issued a citation pursuant to Florida Statute 316.1945(1)(a).
She will continue to be treated on an as needed basis.
State Farm insured the driver of vehicle 1. We settled with State Farm for $8,000. Again, Hertz Car Rental owned vehicle 6. We settled with my client’s accident claim against the Hertz rental car driver for $2,000. The total settlement was for $10,000.
I represented the injured driver. I knew her from before the accident. However, when she initially called me to see if I could represent her, she mentioned that a criminal defense attorney, Aubrey Webb gave her my number.
Thus, with the client’s (and the other attorney’s) consent, I listed him as co-counsel on our fee contract. He received 25% of our attorney’s fee.
A driver was cut off by a car on the expressway. This forced her to crash into the car in front of her.
Olga suffered injuries to her back, neck and knees. She received therapy for her spine and injections of Kenalog 40 mg 1cc plus Lidocaine 1% 2cc to her knees.
She will continue to be treated on an as needed basis. State Farm insured the careless driver who was ticketed for causing the crash. Hertz insured another car that was involved in the accident.
State Farm paid $8,000 to my client to settle. Hertz paid $2,000 to my client.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance is Not Required on Florida Rental Cars
You are not required to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) liability coverage when renting a car in Florida. If you rent a car in Florida, you may have the option to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
I represented a foreigner (tourist) from Switzerland. He was in Miami for vacation. He rented a car from Alamo in Miami, Florida.
To his surprise, when he rented the car, he purchased UM liability coverage. He was unaware that he purchased it. The UM coverage was through Ace Insurance Company. (Alamo tells the policy limits and the insurer name on its website).
A car hit my client while he was a pedestrian in Coconut Grove, Miami-Dade County, Florida. My client fractured his lower leg (tibia).
Ace American Insurance Company paid me $100,000 in UM liability coverage. Not too long ago, Ace bought Chubb Insurance Company. (As you may imagine, I’ve settled personal injury cases with both Ace and Chubb.)
An US customs and border patrol employee was driving the rental car that hit my client. The government employee rented a car at Hertz.
Philadelphia Insurance Company insured the Hertz rental car. Again, the Hertz car struck my client. Fortunately, Philadelphia’s policy had $100,000 in BI coverage.
They paid the limits of $100,000. I also sued the United States government. In litigation, they paid $125,000. The total settlement from all parties was for $325,000. Here is a video about this settlement:
This settlement is before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
If you did not purchase UM coverage for the rental vehicle, and you were not an insured under a separate UM policy, you may not be entitled to UM coverage.
Here are some interesting personal injury settlements for foreigners (tourists) who are injured in Florida.
Will a rental car driver’s personal Florida Uninsured Motorist liability policy cover a passenger?
Possibly. A rental car driver’s family auto UM insurance may cover a passenger. This is true if the renter’s family auto insurance policy is with a major insurance company. Examples of major insurance companies are GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, USAA, Travelers and many others.
However, some non-standard (smaller) insurance companies are likely to exclude (not cover) passengers from UM coverage. Examples of smaller companies are United Auto, Responsive, Direct General and many others.
Does Someone Who Isn’t a Resident Relative Get Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Maybe. Assume that Jeff lives and owns a car in Miami, Florida. He has State Farm auto insurance.
Jeff is driving a rental car in Hialeah, Florida. Maria is a passenger. Jeff has the right of way.
David is driving another car. David makes a left hand turn in front of Jeff. They crash.
David is at fault. Maria’s wrist is fractured. Maria makes a personal injury claim against David.
Maria has Allstate car insurance. Let’s assume that she does not have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in her policy. She rejected it when she purchased her policy.
Maria’s case value may be greater than $10,000. She thinks about making a claim with Jeff’s State Farm UM coverage.
Will Jeff’s State Farm policy will NOT provide UM coverage to Maria?
I’ve had a GEICO uninsured motorist adjuster tell me that GEICO’s UM coverage would cover Maria in this scenario. (However, GEICO will deny coverage if Jeff was driving the rental car as an Uber driver several days a week.)
Also, the passenger may be insured under a separate policy with UM liability coverage. Another policy providing UM coverage may insure Maria.
Let’s take the above example except assume Maria is Jeff’s resident relative. In that instance, Jeff’s personal UM liability coverage will cover Maria.
Will the rental car’s insurance pay you if the rental car driver was drunk and injures you?
In Florida, probably not. I’m referring to the fact that if the rental car driver purchased supplemental insurance coverage in Florida, and injured you while he/she was drunk, it likely won’t pay you money.
Rental car SLI insurance doesn’t cover drunk drivers if the rental agreement says that the vehicle may not be used while the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For the exclusion to apply, it must clearly say that driving under the influence of alcohol voids (or deprives) the drunk driver of coverage.
The bad news?
I imagine that most rental car agreements have this language.
This was the main issue in the case of T.H.E. Ins. Co. v. Dollar Rent-A-Car Sys., Inc., 900 So.2d 694 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005). This isn’t my case.
Out of State Visitors Can Use PIP to Repay Medpay
I’ve written a lot about claims for people from another state who are injured in a Florida car accident. Those people are usually in Florida for either vacation or work.
If you are a visitor to Florida and you have Medical Payments benefits under your car insurance policy, then you may be required to repay your auto insurance company for the money (or some of) that they spent paying your medical bills from the Medpay portion of your personal injury claim.
You would need to repay this money from the money you received in your settlement with the at fault driver. If you do not recover money against the negligent driver/owner, you do not need to repay your car insurance company.
Check your car insurance policy to see if your insurance company can subrogate (try to recoup payments it made) from the at fault driver. Check the statutes or case law for your state to determine whether your car insurance company can recover medical payments that it made.
You can use the PIP insurance through the rental car company to repay your medical payments coverage. The rental car PIP insurance should pay 80% of the amount that your Medpay insurance paid or more.
This does not apply to Florida car owners.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in a Florida rental car accident? Were you hurt in another type of incident?
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