Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Mar 4, 2022

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Just the Basics

  • Sudden mechanical breakdowns aren’t covered by standard car insurance
  • Rental car reimbursement can cover rental expenses
  • If a car accident causes a breakdown, it can be covered

Do you need a rental car after an accident totals your vehicle? Insurance companies could provide a refund for rental car fees if your vehicle broke down after an accident.

Can you use your car insurance policy for a rental if you have a vehicle breakdown? Don’t worry – we’re here to help you answer this question and more.

Read this guide to learn how car insurance companies cover rental cars and why you must buy specialty insurance for sudden vehicle breakdowns.

If my car breaks down, will insurance cover a rental?

It depends on your car insurance policy. Liability-only policies usually don’t provide rentals after an accident. However, if you’re not at fault in a car accident, you could request a rental car from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

When you’re at fault in a car accident, you can get rental car assistance if you have rental car reimbursement on your policy. Auto insurance companies only provide coverage for car breakdown when it’s connected to an accident.

You can’t add rental car reimbursement immediately after an accident. Therefore, you should get rental car reimbursement at the start of your insurance policy.

Your car insurance company won’t pay for rental car expenses if your vehicle breaks down due to normal wear, faulty repairs, or lousy car parts.

This also applies to no-fault insurance coverages like collision and comprehensive insurance. Collision insurance pays for car damage regardless of who’s at fault in a car accident.

Meanwhile, comprehensive coverage pays for unforeseen accidents that don’t involve collisions, such as animal damage, fire damage, flooding, storms, and vandalism.

What is rental car reimbursement?

Rental car reimbursement is coverage that provides a refund for any rental car fees you paid after an accident. Your insurance company will provide a refund once your vehicle repairs are finished.

Insurance companies provide a refund once your vehicle repairs are finished.

What’s the difference between rental car reimbursement and rental car insurance?

Rental reimbursement is coverage you receive from the insurance company. The renal company provides rental car insurance.

Some car insurance companies extend your liability limits to a rental car, but you can get an extra layer of protection when buying rental insurance. Both policy types don’t pay for vehicle breakdowns outside of car accidents.

How much is rental car reimbursement coverage?

Rental reimbursement costs about $2 to $15 per month. However, some car insurance companies may charge more. Try shopping with the best insurance companies in your area to get the best deal.

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Is rental car reimbursement included in full coverage insurance?

Yes, it is. If you’re buying full coverage car insurance, rental car reimbursement will likely be part of the package. If not, ask your insurance agent about adding the coverage to your policy.

Full coverage insurance is about $94 per month. However, the factors that affect the price of car insurance can lower your monthly rates or drive them up.

Your insurance rates are significantly impacted by where you live. Let’s look at the average cost of auto insurance by the state.

Average Monthly Rates for Full Coverage Insurance by State
StatesAverage Monthly Full Coverage Rates
District of Columbia$122
New Hampshire$72
New Jersey$121
New Mexico$87
New York$124
North Carolina$69
North Dakota$68
Rhode Island$121
South Carolina$94
South Dakota$72
West Virginia$89
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Your full coverage rates could be more expensive if you add rental car reimbursement to your insurance policy. However, full coverage insurance likely has rental reimbursement coverage.

If my car breaks down, will insurance cover towing costs?

Yes, it will. If your vehicle breaks down, your insurance company covers the towing costs.

Sometimes, it depends on the company and your car insurance policy. Most car insurance companies provide emergency roadside assistance, even with liability insurance policies.

Be sure to check the perks of your insurance plan before you purchase a quote. Understanding your policy is essential to receiving the best car insurance service.

How do you get insurance coverage when a car breaks down?

Many drivers invest in mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI). MBI is like a car warranty because it covers sudden breakdowns of engines, transmissions, and other essential parts of your car.

Companies like Mercury, AAA, American Family, and GEICO have MBI. You can add MBI to your policy for about $100 a year.

A vehicle warranty can provide the same coverage. Car warranties last between three and five years, depending on the manufacturer or dealership.

Therefore, if your car breaks down while it’s under warranty or MBI, use your car insurance policy to tow your vehicle to a mechanic shop or a dealership.

Does mechanical breakdown insurance cover rental car costs?

No, it doesn’t. MBI only covers sudden expenses when your car breaks down. You’ll need to use the rental reimbursement coverage from your insurance policy.

What’s the difference between mechanical breakdown insurance and a car warranty?

MBI provides coverage for older vehicles that can’t get a warranty. A vehicle warranty is a guarantee from the manufacturer to fix any defective issues with the most recent model year cars.

For example, it’s unlikely that Toyota would provide a vehicle warranty for a 1999 Toyota Camry. So, you’ll have to find a company that sells MBI to get coverage for the car’s most significant parts.

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Will Insurance Cover a Rental if My Car Breaks Down: The Bottom Line

Your insurance company will cover you when your vehicle breaks down due to an accident, but you’ll need rental car reimbursement on your policy. Most insurance policies with comprehensive coverage have rental reimbursement attached.

If you’re not at fault in an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover rental car fees for you.

You won’t receive a rental car or rental reimbursement because your vehicle suddenly broke down. However, a car insurance company can provide free towing for you.