What Happens if You Get in a Car Accident in a Leased Car?

Wave Image

When it comes to getting a vehicle, individuals typically have a few choices. They can purchase a used vehicle, or they can purchase a new vehicle. However, individuals may also choose to lease a new vehicle. Leasing is a little bit different when it comes to car ownership, but will this make a difference if you get into an accident in a leased vehicle? Here, we want to discuss what happens if you get into a car accident while driving your leased vehicle.

Insurance Requirements for Leased Vehicles in California

Even though individuals who lease vehicles technically do not own the vehicle, they are still required to purchase and maintain auto insurance. Under no circumstances should individuals in California operate a leased vehicle without insurance on the car. In the state of California, individuals are required to carry and maintain the following insurance minimums:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

Most leasing companies will also require individuals to pay for insurance beyond these minimums. For example, leased vehicle drivers may have to purchase guaranteed asset protection (GAP) coverage that protects the leasing company by fulfilling your financial obligation to them if the vehicle is totaled or somebody steals it.

What You Need to do After a Crash in a Leased Vehicle

If you get into an accident inside a leased vehicle, the steps to take are no different than the steps that must be taken after any type of vehicle accident.

  1. Stay at the scene
  2. Call 911
  3. Check for injuries
  4. Seek medical care

However, the insurance claims process will be slightly different for a leased vehicle. Individuals involved will have to notify their insurance carrier as well as the leasing company after a collision occurs. Those who lease vehicles have separate contracts with both companies, and both of these contracts require that the accidents be reported as soon as possible, typically within a day or two after the incident occurs.

Even though you have to notify the leasing company, the reality is that the process for securing compensation and getting a vehicle repaired will be the same process that occurs after any vehicle accident. If you have questions or need help after a collision, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.

What if You Caused the Crash?

If you were responsible for a crash inside of a leased vehicle, we strongly advise you not to say this at the scene of the incident or to the insurance carriers after the collision occurs. The reality is that an investigation will determine who was at fault.

Even if you were partially at fault for a crash, California operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that individuals can recover compensation even if they are 99% responsible for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation the person receives will be reduced based on their level of liability. For example, if you are inside of a leased vehicle and incur $10,000 worth of medical bills as a result of your injuries, but were found to be 40% at fault for the incident, you would receive $6,000 instead of the full $10,000 to account for your percentage of fault.