A rental car accident is one of the last things you want to avoid on your holiday. But don’t ignore the possibility that you might get into an accident while driving a car that is not your own on unfamiliar roads.
An accident in a rental car is much the same as an accident in your own car. However, with the extra layers that are included in the car hire agreement; there are additional rental car insurance features that you need to be prepared for.
Here are six things you need to do if you are involved in a car rental accident:
MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS IN ORDER
Although it may seem like common sense, you should make sure that everything in your car is in order before you take any other action. While it may seem sensible to check your car before you do anything, you should check your surroundings and other vehicles.
As with all accidents, pull over to the side of the road if possible. !If the accident is more serious, call 112 immediately if someone is injured. If there is a risk of explosion, evacuate the area.
CHANGING CONTACT INFORMATION
Once you are satisfied that the scene is safe, exchange contact and insurance information with all other relevant parties. The information to be exchanged should be as follows:
- Name, address, telephone number and email address.
- Phone and email address, contact details, email address, insurance company and insurance number.
- Address, email address, contact details, the insurance company, email address, address and phone number.
If there are witnesses, you should also get their contact details.
If the police arrive on the scene, be prepared to show your driver’s license, registration certificate, proof of financial responsibility and current address.
When contacting other people involved in the accident, don’t tell other drivers or police officers that the accident was your fault (even if you think it was your fault).
Be polite, but avoid saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I should have been more careful” as they can be used against you later, sometimes without the insurance company’s protection. Use phrases such as “Are you OK?” instead. Show sympathy without admitting fault.
If the adversary is hostile, it is better to wait for the police to arrive before taking action. You don’t want to argue with other drivers and passengers.
Be careful of the other parties. Don’t sign any guilty pleas or promises to pay the other party, and if they offer to pay damages or deductibles, don’t sign anything.
It is important to try not to mention to other parties that you drive a rental car as some may try to take advantage of the situation and blame you.
RECORD THE ACCIDENT WITH NOTES AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Take time to gather detailed information about the accident. Take notes (using the notes function on your phone) and take lots of photos.
Documents should include the following information:
- The year, make, model and color of each vehicle involved in the accident.
- Any other specific information about the vehicles involved.
- The exact location of the collision, including information such as the name of the street and lane where the collision occurred.
- How the accident occurred.
CONTACT THE RENTAL CAR COMPANY
Although the steps listed so far are broadly similar to those you would take if you were driving your own car, a rental car accident requires a bit more effort.
Call the rental car company as soon as possible to report an accident. You will often find a sticker with the emergency number in the glove compartment or the emergency number on the rental car agreement.
Ask the company what to do. The rental car company will usually ask you to fill in their version of the accident report, which is usually made up of the same information you gathered above.
CONTACT YOUR CAR RENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY
If you rely primarily on your existing car insurance, tell them about the accident so that you can make a claim.
One way to do this is to contact your insurance company:
- Are they obliged to report the accident to the local police or you?
- Ask your insurance company whether your policy includes collision and comprehensive insurance in addition to compulsory third party liability insurance.
- Find out what your deductible is (a deductible is the portion of a claim that you must pay out of pocket).
For example, if your deductible is $400 and the damage is $10,000, you must pay the first $400 for repairs and the insurance company will pay the rest. Be sure to tell your insurance company about any additional insurance you have taken out for the rental.
FIND OUT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FOR WHAT IF YOU HAVE INSURANCE
You need to know what your policy covers, what your insurance company may cover and what the rental agency may cover. If you booked the rental car with a credit card that offers rental car insurance, it can help cover damage to the rental car in the event of an accident.
Collision Damage: If you have your own Collision and comprehensive insurance policy, it usually covers the rental car. If your regular insurance doesn’t cover it, consider buying collision damage insurance from the rental company. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the damages.
Damage to others: if you already have liability insurance, it usually covers the rental car. If not, you can usually buy additional liability insurance from the rental company for damage to someone else’s vehicle or property.
Don’t rely on your credit card. Some credit cards offer rental car insurance, but they usually do not include liability insurance. If you don’t already have car insurance, it’s usually a good idea to buy it, otherwise you may have to pay medical and repair bills for other parties involved in an accident.
Possible extra rental days: If you don’t have rental car insurance on your policy, you may still be required to pay the rental company for the extra days as if you were still renting the vehicle. If the car needs to be repaired within a week, you may have to pay for an extra week of “rental”. You can usually avoid these costs if you buy additional insurance or collision damage insurance from the rental company.