The last thing you need on vacation is a car accident, especially in a rental car. Getting into an accident is stressful enough, even if damages are minor and there are no injuries. But when you’re in an accident while driving a rental car, that stress is only heightened when worrying about the consequences and costs for repair. Before you drive away from the rental lot, it’s essential to arm yourself with the knowledge of what to do, should be be involved in an accident in a rental car.
- Assess the Situation. Before you do anything, make sure that everyone involved is OK. Check the surrounding scene and any other vehicles that were involved. If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. When safe to do so, move out of traffic to avoid further harm to yourself, others, or the rental. If you have them, set up emergency flares temporarily until the police arrive if you’re in a high-traffic area.
- Exchange Information and Take Pictures. Exchange names, telephone numbers, and insurance information with other anyone involved in the accident. Ask the responding officer for a copy of the accident report and get the officer’s name, badge number, contact information, and the accident case number. Don’t forget to take photos of any damage, the scene of the crash, or anything else you may be useful to have record of.
- Contact the Rental Company. Use the company’s emergency phone number to call and report the accident involving your rental. Record the name of the representative you spoke with, the phone number, and note the call’s time and day and any information the representative tells you.
- Contact Your Insurance Company. One of the most common reasons an insurance provider denies a claim is that the claim is not filed quickly enough. It’s essential to file a claim as soon as possible through your personal auto insurer.
- Call Your Credit Card Company. If you paid for the rental with a credit card, you may automatically have coverage through the credit card company. Many credit card companies offer protection that goes into effect after your automotive insurance policy has paid out. It may even reimburse you for your deductible up to $1,000.
Insurance Coverage for Rental Cars
Once the initial shock of the accident wears off, you will need to repair the car so it is in the same condition as when you got it. Your personal auto insurance policy may cover the costs through two primary components:
- Collision Damage (also known as “loss damage waiver”). This option covers financial responsibility if the rental car is damaged, stolen, out of use while being repaired, towing, and any additional fees.
- Liability Coverage. This will cover you legally if there are any charges pressed against you related to the use of the rental car. For example, suppose there’s an accident, and you are at fault. In that case, liability coverage should affect any claims made against you by another driver. The limit is usually $1 million.
The rental car company offers optional supplemental insurance or add-ons. Two other optional coverages that might apply to you in a rental car accident are:
- Medical Payments Coverage or Personal Accident Insurance. This option covers medical costs, similar to Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It may help reimburse your doctor or hospital visits, ambulance transportation and surgery, among other things, for you and your passengers.
- Personal effects coverage. Covers anything you transport in the car (luggage, electronics, personal items, etc.).
Henson Fuerst Can Help
Rental car accidents happen more often than you might think. Like other car accidents, you’ll want to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. If you or your passengers were injured, it’s even more important to get legal guidance to help work with the rental company and insurance companies.
At Henson Fuerst, we’re here to help you get the answers you need. We will work hard for you and aggressively defend your rights. Contact Henson Fuerst at 919-781-1107 to schedule a FREE, confidential, no-obligation case consultation.