When you’re driving, you never want to get in an accident, of course, but you may be even more nervous about that prospect if you’re in a rental car. Renting a car is common when people travel, but what happens if you do get in an accident?
First and foremost, when you’re driving in an unfamiliar place such as a tourist destination and you’re in a rental car, be vigilant and always be aware of what’s around you. When we’re in an unfamiliar car and an unfamiliar location, we might be looking at the sites or a map on our phone, and that puts us at a higher risk of being in an accident.
Make sure you’re following the rules of the road as well as paying attention and keep a safe distance from other cars and especially big trucks.
Even if you’ve followed safe driving tips and you still get in an accident when you’re in a rental car, what should you know and what should you do?
Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
Whether you’re in a rental car or not, if you’re ever in an accident, even one that seems minor, your first step should be ensuring everyone is okay.
Check the scene if any other cars are involved, and if anyone could even seemingly be hurt, call 911 immediately. If you’re worried about the possibility of an explosion, step far away from the vehicle and clear the area.
Take Pictures and Get Contact Information
If everyone is okay and no one is hurt, then you can start moving on to the other steps you should take. First, exchange both contact and insurance information with the other person, if there is another car involved in the wreck.
Don’t talk about the fact that you’re driving a rental car, don’t go into details of the accident and never admit any type of fault.
Take pictures of everything and then leave the scene as soon as you can do so safely.
The less you say at the scene of any accident, typically the better.
Contact the Rental Car Company
The biggest difference when you initially get in an accident in your own car versus a rental car is that you need to contact the rental car company as soon as you can.
You are responsible for damage or loss to a vehicle rental, and so you’re going to have to look into the insurance coverage you purchased when you rented the car. You need to also contact your own insurance company and see what they offer and check to see if any credit cards you have offer rental car insurance coverage.
Most of the time, your personal car insurance policy should offer something similar to what you will get if you take the rental car company upon the available liability coverage.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you reach out to the rental company, it’s time to call your insurance company. You should ask your insurance company if they’ll file an accident report with the local police where you had the accident or if you need to do it.
You also can take this time to ask your insurance company what kind of coverage you have and what your deductible is.
A deductible is important because it’s how much you have to pay out-of-pocket for the rental car loss incurred.
If your deductible is $500, you have to pay that much for car repairs before your insurance coverage kicks in.
When you rented a car, the rental company probably verified that you have a deductible of $500 or less, otherwise they might make you purchase additional insurance from them.
If you didn’t get a collision waiver or additional coverage when you rented the vehicle, your insurance company only has to pay for the rental car if your policy has first-party coverage.
Even if you aren’t at fault, you’ll need to pay the deductible straight to the rental company because it’s the company’s right to get their vehicle fixed as soon as they can.
Then, it’s your insurance company that will try and get damages from the responsible party if you weren’t at fault.
You’re also likely going to have to keep paying the rental fees on a car while it’s being fixed.
If you did get the collision damage waiver or additional rental insurance when you got the car, you’re probably going to be in a better position, so it’s something to consider the next time you rent a vehicle.