What If I Get in an Accident in a Rental Car?

You may need a rental car if you’re out of town for business or simply enjoying some well-deserved vacation time. The last thing you would expect is to get in a car accident in a car that’s not your own, but it happens more often than you might think. Knowing how to proceed with a claim is the best way to prepare for the steps that come next.

Take the following actions following an accident in a rental car:

Check and Make Sure Everyone Is Okay

Just like any other car accident, the safety of all drivers and passengers should be your top priority. Inquire about the well-being of your passengers, as well as the other parties involved in the accident. If it’s possible to do so, move your vehicles over to the side of the road in order to let traffic pass. Call emergency medical services for anyone who needs it and wait for the police to arrive.

Again, it’s important to be polite and courteous to the other driver. Don’t, however, do or say anything that could be the same as admitting fault. In this case, even something as simple as an apology could go against you. Limit your interaction with the other driver to an inquiry about his or her well-being and the exchange of insurance information.

Gather Evidence

While waiting for the police to arrive and make a report, gather as much information as you can about the accident scene. Take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, focusing on your rental vehicle first. If possible, gather contact information from any eyewitnesses, including names, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Next, gather any pertinent insurance information from the other driver: policy number, license plate number, and the make, model, and year of his or her vehicle.

When the police arrive, be prepared to provide a statement of your version of events. When relaying information to a responding officer, remember to keep a clear head. Stick to the facts surrounding the accident and don’t editorialize. Embellishments, if discovered, could undermine the veracity of your car insurance claim.

Call Your Own Insurance Company

If you don’t already know, call your insurance company and ask about the extent of your insurance policy – ideally, you’ll have both comprehensive and collision coverage on at least one of your vehicles. This is the coverage that will offer protection for any car you rent.

Also, be aware of your deductible so you have an idea of what you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Deductibles can range from $100 to well over $500, depending on the terms of your policy. Generally, you will pay your deductible for your collision or comprehensive coverage, and your insurance company will pay the rest. For example, if you incurred $10,000 worth of damages in a rental car and your deductible is $500, you’ll have to foot $500 in your own bills before your insurance company will kick in to pay the rest.

In some cases, a car rental company will have you purchase insurance to cover a rental car when you’re driving it. Be sure to inform your own insurance company of any additional coverage you had on your rental car at the time of the accident.

Since insurance coverage varies from state to state, you might not be familiar with the insurance rules in the state where you picked up a rental car and additional coverage (if applicable). If this applies, the rental car company can help you navigate the process of filing a claim and compensating for property damage and other expenses.