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- In any accident, you should: check that everyone is okay, call 911, exchange contact and insurance information with any other drivers involved and take pictures of the scene.
- When driving a rental car, call the company as soon as possible, inform them of the accident and ask them how to proceed.
- Contact your insurance company, notify them of the accident and find out if you have collision and comprehensive coverage which should extend coverage to any vehicle you rent.
- If you did not purchase additional insurance or a collision waiver from the rental company, you will be required to pay your deductible amount directly to the rental company—regardless of who was at-fault.
- If you were not at fault, your insurer will then pursue the responsible party, and their insurer, for compensation.
- If your insurance policy does not include rental coverage, you will have to continue to pay the rental company fees until the car is repaired and returned to them.
A car accident is the last thing anyone wants to deal with while traveling. While handling a rental car accident is very similar to what you would do with your own vehicle, there are some differences. It is wise to be prepared so that everything can go as smoothly as possible.
Gather Information at the Scene
In any car accident, the first thing you should do is make sure that everyone is okay and not injured. If someone is injured, call 911 immediately. If no one is injured, find out if any of the other drivers have called the police and do so if no one else has. A police report will need to be filed. After you have ensured the safety of the scene, you should exchange contact and insurance information with any other driver involved. Take pictures of the scene as well, including all damage done to your rental vehicle.
Contact the Rental Car Company
This is an extra step you will need to take when driving a rental car. Call the company as soon as you can. Usually, there is contact information for the company inside of the glove compartment. Inform the company of your accident, and ask them how to proceed. If it is possible, review any coverage that was provided with the rental vehicle and your own car insurance.
Contact Your Insurer
Next, contact your own insurance company and notify them of the accident. While speaking with your insurer, find out whether you have collision and comprehensive coverage in your policy. Collision and comprehensive coverage will extend coverage to any vehicle you rent. It is also a good idea to find out the minimum policy limits for the state you are in, if it is not your home state. Limits can vary from state to state.
When you are speaking with your insurance company, find out what your deductible is. Most car rental companies will require you to have a deductible of $500 or less to rent a vehicle from them. If you do not, you will have to purchase additional insurance from them. Also, be sure to inform you insurer of any additional insurance you purchased from the rental company.
Determine Who Will Be Responsible for Your Claim
Your insurer is responsible for paying the rental car for the damages to the rental vehicle if your current policy provides first-party coverage and if you did not purchase additional insurance or a collision waiver from the rental company. You will be required to pay your deductible amount directly to the rental company, regardless of who was at fault in causing the collision. The rental company is entitled to have their property repaired as soon as possible. If you were not at fault, your insurer will then pursue the responsible party, and their insurer, for compensation.
If your insurance policy does not include rental coverage, you will have to continue to pay the rental company fees until the car is repaired and returned to them. If it takes a week to repair the vehicle, you will have to pay the fees to rent the car for a week. Even if your policy includes loss of use coverage, you’ll owe the difference to the rental company if the limit is below what the rental car would usually be rented for.
If you bought extra insurance, either from the rental company or your credit card company, carefully review both the additional insurance and your own policy.
Some rental insurance policies provide complete coverage in any accident as long as you paid the premium. Complete coverage would include any other vehicle involved in the accident, as well as your rental car. If the limit for the rental insurance coverage is too low, your own insurance policy will act as a secondary form of coverage. However, your policy may require you to pay your deductible before covering additional damages. It is very important to read both policies together to see how the claim will be covered.
You can also purchase a collision damage waiver from the rental company. This waiver will release you from responsibility for paying for the rental car in case of an accident. But, you will still need to file a claim for any other vehicle involved in the accident if you were at fault, plus any injuries you may have sustained in the collision.
Determining insurance policy coverage in a rental vehicle accident can be complex and confusing. If you have been involved in a collision while in a rental vehicle, call our office. We can help you determine what your rights are.