insurance agent presenting car keys to client

What Happens if You Damage a Courtesy Car? Understanding Liability

January 23, 2024

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is already stressful, and things can become even more complicated if you happen to damage a courtesy car provided by your insurance company. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through what happens if you damage a courtesy car, explaining liability, responsibilities, procedures, and the legal considerations involved.

What Is A Courtesy Car?

A courtesy car, as the name suggests, is a temporary vehicle provided to you by your insurance company while your own car is being repaired. It's a valuable service designed to minimise disruption to your daily life - however, it's essential to understand the policies and terms that govern the use of courtesy cars.

Responsibilities When Using a Courtesy Car

When you are entrusted with a courtesy car, it comes with responsibilities, the most simple of which is that you’re expected to treat the vehicle with care, just as you would your own car. This includes obeying traffic laws, avoiding reckless driving, and ensuring that the car is not subjected to unnecessary risks.

Additionally, you must return RTA replacement vehicles on time, as most policies have a set duration for your use of the vehicle. If any damage occurs to the courtesy car during your use, it's also your responsibility to promptly report it to the insurance company and the rental agency, if applicable.

Procedures After Damaging a Courtesy Car

Accidents happen, and if you find yourself in a situation where you've damaged a courtesy car, it's crucial to follow the right procedures. First and foremost, ensure that everyone involved is safe, and if necessary, call for medical assistance. If it’s a serious crash with multiple injuries - or if there are any problems with the other driver - you can also report the incident to the police.

You’ll also then need to contact your insurance company immediately to report the damage to the courtesy car and provide a detailed account of the incident. Take clear photos of the damage to the courtesy car, including any relevant details, such as the location and circumstances of the incident.

Liability and Financial Obligations

So, what about liability? Liability for the damage to a courtesy car can vary depending on your insurance policy, as well as the circumstances of the incident; if you have comprehensive insurance coverage, your insurer may cover the cost of repairs to the courtesy car, subject to any applicable excess. If a third party was responsible for the damage, their insurance may be liable for the costs, and your insurance company may handle the claim on your behalf. Always double check information on courtesy cars with your insurance company for exact clarification, as terms may vary from provider to provider.

Resolution and Claim Procedures

insurance agent handing over courtesy car keys to client

The resolution of the damage to a courtesy car typically involves several steps. First, the insurance company or rental agency will assess the extent of the damage and estimate repair costs. If the damage is repairable, the courtesy car will be taken to a repair centre to restore it to its pre-damage condition - but you may be required to pay an excess or deductible, as specified in your insurance policy, towards the repair costs.

Legal Considerations and Regulations

There are a number of legal considerations and regulations in the UK governing the use of courtesy cars, and you should be aware of these if a courtesy vehicle is included in your policy. You’ll want to ensure that you remain compliant with all insurance requirements when using a courtesy car, as failure to do so may affect your coverage, and you don’t want to be paying out of pocket for a costly repair.

Prevention and Mitigation Strategies

While accidents can happen unexpectedly, taking preventive measures and adopting mitigation strategies can help reduce the likelihood of damaging a courtesy car. Always practise safe and responsible driving when using a courtesy car, and make sure to thoroughly familiarise yourself with the policies and terms of use for the car to avoid any misunderstandings. Finally, ensure that the courtesy car is well-maintained and in good condition throughout your use - it’s good manners, and it’ll help prevent unnecessary charges.


Can I use my courtesy car for long-distance travel or holidays?

The usage of a courtesy car is typically limited to essential use, such as commuting and necessary errands. Using it for long-distance travel or holidays may not be allowed under the terms of your policy. Check with your insurer for specific restrictions.

What if the courtesy car was damaged before I received it?

Before accepting a courtesy car, carefully inspect it for any existing damage, and report any issues to the rental agency or insurance company. They will document the pre-existing damage to avoid any confusion or liability later.

Do I need to purchase additional insurance for the courtesy car?

Usually, additional insurance for a courtesy car is not necessary if you have comprehensive coverage on your own vehicle. Your policy should extend to cover the courtesy car, however, it's always a good idea to confirm this with your insurance provider.