When you go through the movements of borrowing a rental car, the absolute last thing you want to do is get into an accident. But even the safest drivers aren’t 100% guaranteed to stay accident-free when behind the wheel of a rental car. After all, you can’t control other drivers.
Before you drive off the rental lot, it’s your responsibility to know what to do if you’re ever in a rental car accident. Keep reading to find out.
Safety is Your First Priority
The first thing you should worry about if you’re in a rental car wreck is your safety. If someone is injured, your first call should be to 911. Before you collect any information or evidence, before you call your insurance or the rental company, you have to move to a safe location.
The next call should be to the police to report the incident and file a report.
Gather All Evidence
Once everyone is safe and you have called the proper authorities, you should start to exchange information with the other drivers and anyone injured.
The information you should include the year, make, model, and color of each car involved in the car wreck. It’s a good idea to write down any other details that stand out to you as well. Then, record how the accident happened to the best of your ability.
Include specific details like street names, which lane the accident occurred in, and anything else that you can think of.
If the police are involved, make sure you ask the officer for a copy of the accident report. As an extra measure of protection, get the officer’s name and badge number as well as any contact information and the case number for the accident.
Take pictures from multiple angles and distances of the damage done to your car, any involved cars, and the scene of the auto accident.
Don’t try to tell the officer who is at fault. Just give the officer the information as best as you can remember.
Call the Rental Company
Up until this point, the steps we’ve discussed are all the same steps that you would take if you were in an accident in your own car. But as this is a rented vehicle, there are a few extra steps you have to take.
Once you’ve finished talking to the police officer, you should call the rental company to let them know that there was an accident. If you don’t know the number offhand, most rental cars have a sticker with emergency numbers located in your rental agreement forms.
From there, the company will be able to tell you what to do as far as filing a claim. They will have their own incident report for you to fill out, so bring your copy of the police report with you.
Call Your Insurance
If you bought additional insurance from the rental company, they will let you know the next steps to take to follow through with filing a claim. If you’re using your existing car insurance policy for coverage in the event of a rental car accident, they should be your next call after the rental company.
Let them know about the accident and start the process of filing a claim for the damages.
There are a few questions you’ll want to ask your insurance company.
If the police weren’t involved in your accident, ask the insurance company if they will contact the police to file a report or if that is something that you should handle yourself.
You should also find out if your coverage is comprehensive or if you have the minimum insurance required by law. This will let you know how much you are insured for and if you will have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.
Find out what your deductible, or how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket, is.
For example, if you have a $250 deductible and there is $500 worth of damage done to the car, you’ll need to pay that $250 before the insurance company will cover the rest.
If you’ve purchased additional insurance, make sure you let your insurance company know so they can connect and get the damage paid for.
The Next Steps
Once you have called the insurance companies and your rental company, you need to figure out who is responsible for paying for the damage. Luckily, this isn’t something you have to do on your own.
A lawyer will be able to help make sure that you are treated fairly, no matter who is at fault. Go to this auto accident law firm to find a lawyer that can help you.
Remember that whether or not you were at fault for the accident, your deductible must still be paid to the rental company. The rental company has a right to have the car fixed as fast as possible. If this right is delayed, you may be held responsible for the money lost.
Protect Yourself in the Event of a Rental Car Accident
No one thinks that they’re going to get into a rental car accident. But accidents happen, and in order to best protect ourselves from a financial crisis in the event of an accident, we have to stay informed and insured. Research your insurance coverage before you rent a car and if you don’t have comprehensive coverage, pay for the insurance provided by your rental company.
It’s better to pay the small fee for rental insurance than it is to pay thousands of dollars for damage and lost earnings.
For more legal tips and tricks, keep reading!