People from all over the country flock to Southern Florida for the winter, for spring break and for other vacations to enjoy the sunshine, beaches and fun. For those who fly or bus into the state, renting a car to get around is a popular and inexpensive option. However, many patrons of car rental companies fail to read the fine print on their rental contract, and thus are unaware of what might happen if they are involved in an accident while on vacation.

The Graves Amendment

The federal legislature passed a piece of legislation known as the Graves Amendment, which has an effect on the liability of rental car companies in the case of an accident. Before the Amendment, you (or the other party to the accident) may have been able to hold the rental car company partially responsible for your damages in the event of an accident. Now, however, rental companies have a measure of protection against liability.

In other words, if you are driving a rental car and you cause an accident, you will likely be personally liable for any damages that you cause for the other driver or pedestrian that you hit – unless the accident was directly caused by the rental company’s negligence.

If you have automobile insurance that covers you even when you are driving a car that is not your own, your insurance could take care of it. If not, then you may be personally liable for any judgment that the plaintiff wins against you.

Explore all of your options

When you rent your car, make sure to read the rental agreement carefully and speak to your rental agent about options for third party insurance coverage. While you may be tempted to skimp on coverage in order to save money, if an accident does occur you will be glad that you got a thorough coverage plan.

A car accident can be a real damper on your vacation. If you want to minimize the chances of a potentially devastating financial blow, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have sufficient insurance coverage before you take to the Florida roads in a rental car.