Dealing with an accident in a rental car is similar to what you’d do if you were involved in a collision in your own vehicle. It’s important to follow proper procedures to ensure everyone’s safety and to avoid confusion and unnecessary paperwork.
Before you drive off the rental car lot and start your adventure, ask the employees to provide you with local and regional emergency numbers as well as a towing company, should you have a problem.
Familiarize yourself with your own auto insurance policy and make sure you understand what it does and does not cover for a rental car.
Typically, your personal car insurance policy will not cover you abroad. For United States drivers, your insurer will most likely cover you when in Canada, and might provide limited coverage in Mexico, so it’s a good idea to check with your agent. Especially if you will be renting a car overseas.
You can contact the U.S. embassy in the country you are visiting to determine the rental car insurance requirements. Some countries may require specific additional coverage that is only available in that country.
Ask as many questions as you need to so that you fully understand your obligations in the event of an accident and any resulting damage to the vehicle.
While traveling with a rental car be sure to keep a copy of your automobile insurance policy with you.
Loss of Use Coverage
One of the biggest things people miss is “loss of use” coverage for a rental car. If you don’t have this and your rental car is damaged you will have to cover the cost of rental while the car is being repaired. For example, if it takes five days for the car to be repaired you will have to pay an extra five days of rental services. Ouch!
What do I do if I am in an accident in a rental car?
Being in an accident of any kind is stressful. If anyone is hurt that is the first priority. As along as everyone is ok just remember that it is only a car and it will all work out.
Breathe deeply, and then follow these steps:
- Be sure everyone in your vehicle is unhurt, including yourself.
- If there are other vehicles involved get out and make sure everyone is unhurt as well.
- If anyone is hurt call 911 or the emergency number for the country you are in.
- Even if no one is hurt, it is still a good idea to call the local authorities so a proper report of the accident can be filed. Many insurance companies require an accident report in order to make a claim. This report should also state who is at fault for the accident. This will matter when making an insurance claim.
- Make sure the scene is secure. Move out of the road if possible or stand in a safer spot.
- Turn the hazard lights on for your vehicle. Set up cones or flares if it is necessary for traffic to detour around the accident.
- Once the scene is safe, exchange your contact information and insurance details with the other driver(s) involved.
- If possible, do not tell the other people involved that you are driving a rental car (to avoid someone trying to take advantage of the situation).
- Take photographs of all the damage done to the vehicles. Be sure to include all the vehicles involved and anything along the roadside that was damaged.
- If you can drive your rental car leave the scene as soon as you have all the information you need.
- If you cannot drive your car call a towing service.
So far everything is the same as if you were in your own vehicle.
- Call the rental car agency as soon as possible and inform them of your accident. Check the glove compartment for their contact information. Also, the number should be on your rental paperwork if that is handy.
- Call your insurance company and inform them of the accident. If you didn’t purchase any additional insurance through the rental car agency your insurance will be responsible for handling the claim.
- If an accident report was made at the scene, provide the details and contact information of the authorities who created the report. If an accident report was not made at the scene than you or your insurance company is responsible for filing a report. They will let you know if you have to do this.
- This is where the fine print comes into play. The terms of your policy and any additional coverage you may have purchased will determine how much out of pocket expense you will to pay. If you are not at fault in the accident you will likely pay less.
- Your insurance company will walk you through all the steps you need to complete. Make sure you take detailed notes and get everything in writing.
One More Thing…
If you are traveling more than 150 miles away from home, and especially in a foreign country, be sure to have a medical emergency plan. Your automobile insurance will take care of damages to the vehicle, but what about you? You will want to get home as soon as possible so that you are in familiar surroundings while you are being treated.
Don’t have a plan?