Miami is one of the most visited cities in the world and probably the most recognized city in Florida. But if you are planning to travel to Miami and rent a car, you should learn more about car accident laws just to be on the safe side. From picking the right car to Florida’s car rental regulations, and car insurance options, there are some things to consider when renting a car in Miami.
#1. Consider Your Coverage Options for Miami Rental Cars
You may need clarification about whether or not car rental insurance is required. Florida requires all car rental companies to carry insurance on their vehicle, and no law says that someone must purchase additional insurance. But if you have ever rented a car in Florida, you probably know that there is a lot of documentation to read and sign before the rental company hands the keys over to you.
Most people drive off in their rented cars with only a general idea of how they are protected until a car accident occurs. So what will protect you? Your own car insurance? Or did you pay for the additional rental car insurance? And who do you file a claim with?
Insurance protection and car accidents may get tricky when rental cars are involved. There are generally three means of protection in such instances: personal car insurance, supplemental insurance from the rental company, and the renter’s credit card.
Personal Car Insurance
If you were involved in a car rental accident, your personal car insurance policy could provide coverage. The coverage often applies because the rental car is considered a temporary replacement under your car insurance coverage. But whether your car insurance will apply in a car rental accident is determined by the terms of your insurance policy. As such, your policy terms must be reviewed to know which insurance protections are in place. Your car insurance can include the following:
- Bodily injury liability
- Property damage liability
- Collision and comprehensive coverage
- Uninsured/underinsured coverage
If you don’t have personal car insurance or its policies do not transfer to rental cars, all rental companies provide supplemental policies. This will come with an additional fee extending various liability coverages, including bodily injury liability and property damage coverage. The insurance will protect you in case you cause a car accident while in a rental vehicle. Additional coverage may also be available if an uninsured or underinsured driver injures you.
Collision/Loss Damage Waiver
A loss damage waiver is not technically insurance. It is an agreement that prohibits the rental company from suing you for loss or damages to the motor vehicle while it is in your possession. It will cover theft and damages from vandalism, weather, collisions, or other incidents. With this waiver, you won’t have to pay a deductible, and all damages or losses will be covered without limits. Some credit cards provide these benefits, but the terms and requirements may vary.
Credit Card Protection
Some credit card companies provide a limited amount of rental car insurance coverage. There are generally specific terms, such as using that card for your rental car, and the amount of protection may be minimal.
#2. Keep Florida’s Car Rental Regulations in Mind
The legal minimum age for renting a car in Florida is twenty-one, but most rental car companies charge a fee for those who rent a car and aren’t at least twenty-five years old. You will also need a valid driver’s license and a credit card.
You will need to bring the card you used for your reservation, and if you are an international tourist, you must bring your home driver’s license and passport.
#3. Do Your Research
Once you know your rental car needs and preferences, it’s essential to research the terms and conditions of the rental company, especially if you are booking online. Look for any applicable penalties or late fees, travel restrictions, liabilities you must be aware of, and what rental car services are included (additional driver, free GPS).
Under Florida’s child safety regulations, if you have a child four years old or younger, they must be in a car seat when in the car. Before choosing your car, you should ask the rental car company for a car seat.
Is the Rental Car Company Liable for a Car Accident?
A rental car company cannot be liable for a crash just because they are the rental company. Under 49 U.S.C. § 30106³, parties engaged in renting motor vehicles are not legally liable just because they own the cars. While a rental car agency will verify if you have a valid license, they won’t run a criminal background check or access your driving record before renting their vehicles. It’s unlikely that rental car companies will pay damages, except through supplemental insurance coverage you may have selected when completing the rental process.
Florida’s no-fault car accident laws will apply in a rental car accident, meaning that PIP insurance will cover your medical bills without regard to fault. To cover damages to someone else’s property, you need property damage liability coverage. As a victim, under Florida law § 627.737⁴, you can file a claim against a negligent party if you have injuries that meet a certain threshold of severity. If the other driver is proven negligent, your right to compensation is no different than other car accident claims. You may be entitled to recover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.