What to do if you get into an accident in a rental car

Getting into a car accident is always stressful. But when you crash in a rental car, this can add extra anxiety and uncertainty to an already upsetting situation. You may panic because you don’t know what the procedure is in this case. How should your response differ from getting into an accident in your own car?

In today’s post, we outline some basic steps to follow in the event of a rental car crash:

The usual protocol

As with any other accident, your first step is to assess the situation. Is everyone safe? If anyone is injured, call 9-1-1 immediately. If there is a risk of fire in the vehicle, clear all occupants from the vicinity quickly. If the car is blocking oncoming traffic, put on your hazard lights and set up emergency flares to help alert traffic and avoid further accidents.

Once any immediate safety concerns are resolved, call the police to report the incident. In many cases, a police report is necessary in order to file a claim with your insurance company. Gather any relevant information from the scene. Exchange contact information and insurance details with the other driver. Take photos of the scene.

Additional steps

When an accident involves a rental car, there are a few additional steps you should take:

Rental car company

You need to report any accident you’re involved in to your rental company right away. There is usually an emergency contact number listed inside the glove compartment. Ask them whether there’s any additional action they require you to take.

Your auto insurance company

Anytime you get into an accident, you should report the incident to your insurance company. However, when the accident involves a rental car, there are extra factors to understand:

  • If you have collision and comprehensive coverage—as opposed to just liability coverage—then this should offer protection on your rental car.
  • It’s important to notify your insurance company if you purchased any additional insurance through the rental company, as this may impact any amount you owe.
  • Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you may be on the hook to pay your deductible to the rental company upfront. Your insurance company will then go after the responsible party to get you reimbursed.
  • If the rental car requires extensive repair, you may have to pay for the rental company’s lost income during the days the car was out of service.

It’s always worthwhile to read the fine print on your insurance plans. When in doubt, consult with an attorney specializing in car crashes about your rights.

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