The unfortunate answer–it depends.
Moving trucks are dangerous
Moving trucks are extremely dangerous for several reasons. First, just like tractor-trailers or semi-trucks, moving trucks are big and heavy. Moving trucks vary in weight and size–depending on the make and model of the truck and what they carry–but all of them are larger than a personal vehicle. The average moving truck can weigh between 8,000 and 26,000 pounds at capacity. This means crashes with moving trucks cause more damage to the vehicles involved, the people inside, and the pedestrians around them.
Another reason why moving trucks–like U-Haul, Budget, or Penske–are dangerous is that there are no additional qualifications required to drive them. For commercial trucks or 18-wheelers, Georgia requires drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To obtain that license, drivers of commercial vehicles must pass a vision exam and a road skills test in addition to a CDL written knowledge exam. Drivers who rent moving trucks are not required to pass any exam at all–only possess a driver’s license.
Last, because there are no additional requirements to drive them, the people driving them typically have little to no experience driving a vehicle that large. Obviously, driving a 20-foot truck full of boxes and furniture is very different than driving a small sedan or a coupe. Even people who drive pick-up trucks are not fully equipped to drive a large moving truck without issue. In a moving truck, the turns are wider, stopping takes longer, and changing lanes take significantly more space between cars. Additionally, what some drivers do not realize is driving an empty U-Haul truck is different than driving a U-Haul truck filled to capacity–the difference can be thousands of pounds. Many who rent moving trucks go from their small vehicle to a moving van without ever having driven a vehicle that big before. The risk of injury is not just on the driver, but the drivers and pedestrians around them as well.
Does regular car insurance apply to moving vans?
Sometimes personal car insurance applies to moving trucks and moving vans and sometimes it does not. There are two main types of automobile insurance that cover injured people: (1) bodily injury coverage and (2) uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. An injured person can recover money under the bodily injury coverage of another driver who was at fault for the crash causing their injury. But, to the extent the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the injuries, the injured person can recover from their own insurance company under their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Whether someone’s personal car insurance covers a crash while driving a U-Haul truck depends on the language of their car insurance policy or contract. Some insurance policies simply state they apply to moving trucks, while others have weight and size limitations. It is important to know what your insurance policy says about moving trucks and vans before renting one.
If your car insurance does not cover you driving a rental truck, there are other supplemental insurance coverages you can purchase for an additional fee. Some of these insurance plans give the impression that an injured person would be covered by the rental company’s plan in the event of a crash. In reality, all they do is protect the rental company. For example, U-Haul offers a coverage known as Safemove®. Purchasing this supplemental insurance protects damage to the truck, damage to the cargo inside, and provides limited coverage to the truck driver and passengers in the event they are injured. It is not until the renter pays more money to U-Haul that they obtain liability insurance–or the bodily injury coverage talked about above–to cover other people injured in a wreck caused by the negligence of the driver of the rental truck.
Does the rental company have to pay when one of their drivers hurts someone?
If you were involved in a crash with a moving truck, a lot of factors are in play to determine who you can recover from and how much. First, you have to determine what insurance, if any, covered the at-fault rental truck driver. The at-fault driver’s personal car insurance may provide coverage and any supplemental insurance they purchased from the rental company could too. Even if the person who rented the truck purchased supplemental insurance, failure to add someone as an authorized driver may result in the rental company’s insurance denying coverage. If the at-fault rental truck driver does not have insurance available, or the insurance they have is not enough to cover your injuries, you may be able to recover from your insurance company to the extent you have uninsured motorist benefits. To determine whether these coverages apply to your crash and injuries, you need to consult with a rental truck accident lawyer.
Recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals reviewed a case where the driver of a U-Haul had not purchased additional insurance from U-Haul and subsequently caused the death of another man hit by the truck. The family of the deceased crash victim sought a ruling from the court that U-Haul had to pay for the harm caused by the driver U-Haul rented a moving truck to. The Court said a jury had to find the moving truck driver at fault first before they could determine to what extent U-Haul had to pay.
From this you can see that recovering from a rental truck company can be complicated. That is why if you are injured in an accident involving a rental truck or rental van, you should call an experienced trucking accident attorney. Contact us to find out how we can help you sort through these complex insurance issues and get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
For more information about the different types of car insurance, check out our blog: Understanding Auto insurance.
For more information about why you need a lawyer following a truck crash, check out our blog: Why Commercial Vehicle Cases are Different.