Rental cars are a great option for transportation when your car is in the shop, you’re on vacation, or traveling for a business trip. It’s likely, however, that having to deal with an auto accident involving the rental is the last thing you’re expecting.
If you find yourself dealing with a rental car crash, it’s important to know how to handle the situation. While dealing with the incident is often similar to what you would do if you were in a collision in your own vehicle, it’s important to understand the differences and how to follow protocol, so you can avoid unnecessary paperwork and confusion.
Evaluate Your Situation
Immediately following an accident involving a rental car, the process is basically the same as what it would be if you were in your own vehicle. First, make sure everyone is okay. If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. Even if you feel fine, it’s still a good idea to seek medical attention. Remember that not all injuries are visible.
If anyone was injured or damaged was done to the vehicles, you’ll also want to request law enforcement come to the scene to file a report. You may need the report later for the rental company or your insurance company.
It’s also a good idea to take pictures and notes of what happened. Exchange insurance information with any other drivers involved, speak to witnesses if possible, and keep track of everything so you can relay the incident’s information to the rental and insurance company.
Contact the Rental Company
As soon as possible after the accident, contact the rental company and inform them of what has happened. Often times, you’ll find an emergency number for the company inside the glovebox. While it’s likely you would have gone over the accident policy prior to signing for the rental, you’ll want to ask them how to proceed. If you purchased optional rental car insurance, that may be able to cover whatever damage the vehicle incurred.
Rental Car Company Insurance Options
Additional insurance coverage is almost always offered by company representatives when you’re signing for a vehicle. There are four commonly offered supplemental coverage options:
- Collision Damage Waiver. With this coverage, the rental car company will waive any car repair or replacement costs incurred during a crash or in the event of theft. While this is not technically insurance, it can benefit you in the event your insurance company does not pay for any damage or loss to the rental. There are generally exceptions that include damage incurred while driving recklessly or by an unauthorized driver.
- Liability Coverage. This coverage pays for property damage and medical bills caused by other drivers. This typically overlaps with your personal car insurance coverage but can provide assistance in the event you have only the state minimum liability insurance coverage. Also, your own insurance company may not provide the coverage you need in the event of an extended rental period.
- Personal Accident Insurance. This insurance will pay for any injuries sustained by the rental car driver and passengers. In some instances, ambulatory expenses and fatality benefits may be available. If you have personal injury protection coverage with your car insurance company, the coverages may overlap.
- Personal Effects Coverage. If any of your personal property was lost or damaged in a rental car during a wreck, this coverage will pay for it. This coverage may be unnecessary if you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Depending on your policy, your car insurance company may be able to cover the rental vehicle damage. It’s important to know what your deductible is – which is the portion of loss you will have to pay out-of-pocket. Remember to let your insurance company know about any additional insurance or waivers you’ve purchased from the rental company.
Credit Car Company Rental Car Insurance
In addition to the coverage provided by your insurance company and the optional coverage from the rental company, many major credit card companies are now offering rental car damage coverage. Prior to renting a vehicle, check with your credit card company to learn about the limitations of renting a vehicle. When you rent a car, make sure you pay using your credit card.
Depending on the terms of your agreement, the company may pay for damage that occurs to the vehicle during the course of the rental. Often times, however, it’s unlikely you’ll be provided with liability coverage.
In some cases, negotiating with insurance companies can be difficult. We’re here to help you reach a settlement with all the parties involved. We are also able to answer any questions you may have about rental car policies and handling collisions. Contact us for more information.