What do you do if you’re in a rental car accident? For the most part, everything is the same as if you got into an accident with your car until it’s time to start talking to your insurance company. Step by step, here’s what happens if you crash a rental car.
- Determine if anyone is injured.
First and foremost, determine if anyone is hurt. If so, call 911 or ask someone to do so for you. Do not attempt to move or exit your vehicle if you are hurt as moving could cause further injury. Only exit your car while injured if you believe staying would cause death or further harm.
- Move your car if there are no major injuries.
If you are able to quickly and easily move your car, do so. It is not necessary to keep your car where it is until the police arrive. It is especially important to move it if it is blocking the flow of traffic and putting others at risk.
While it may appear that traffic has slowed and is allowing you the space and time you need, the reality is that second and third accidents often occur because drivers don’t move their cars after an accident.
Safe places to move your car include:
- Parking lots
- Rest stops
- Medians with barriers
Before you move your car, make sure that both you and the other driver agree on where you are going. Drive too far away, and it may be deemed that you fled the scene of an accident, which is a crime.
Do not move your car if:
- Your car is totaled
- Your car is unable to drive properly
- There is a lot of crash debris on the road
- Someone is seriously injured in the car
If you’re unable to move your car, turn on your hazard lights and turn off your engine. You can also light flares if you have any.
- Call 911
Regardless of how serious the accident was, it’s important to call 911. The police officers will write out an accident report, which may be needed when filing an insurance claim. On the rare occasion that no police officer is able to come to the scene of the crash, you and the other driver may go to the nearest police station and file a report.
- Exchange insurance and contact information
Once you and the other driver are safe, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. Information you’ll need to share includes:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Make, model, and color of vehicle
- Agreed upon location of accident
Do not discuss who was at fault in the accident. While you may think you were at fault, it’s more than possible an insurance adjuster may determine otherwise.
- Take notes and pictures
It’s important to record as much information as possible after an accident. This means you should write down the names and contact information of the following:
- Police officers that arrive on scene (including badge numbers)
- Passengers in the other car
It’s also important to take as many pictures as you can afterwards. Take pictures of both cars from multiple angles, being sure to also take pictures of both cars’ license plate numbers.
Lastly, speak with the police officer about getting a copy of the accident report. He or she may be able to do so right then, or you may have to contact the local office.
- Contact your insurance company
Next, file a claim as soon as possible with your insurance provider. Who pays for a rental car after an accident?
If you purchased a collision damage waiver (CDW) through your rental company, call the number provided to you. All repairs will be taken care of by the rental company assuming they were not the result of reckless driving.
Before assuming you are fully covered, be aware that rental insurance does not cover medical liability, personal accident, or personal effects coverage, which are separate purchases you can make through the rental company to protect yourself, your belongings, or others you may injure with your driving. Speak with your insurance company before making any purchases because they may be redundant to what you already have.
If you did not purchase insurance through your rental company because you have rental coverage on your everyday policy, call your insurance provider and begin the claims process with an agent.
If you paid for the rental car with your credit card so you could get free rental coverage, contact the hotline your credit card company provided and begin the claims process.
- Contact your rental company
Lastly, you were likely given an emergency number to call as part of what to do if you damage a rental car. Call that phone number and ask the company what they want you to do. If the car is driveable, you may need to take it to a specific location. If not, you may need to arrange for it to be towed.
Be prepared for additional fees after getting into an accident with a rental. These may include:
- Processing fee: Some companies charge processing fees after you file a claim for a rental car. These fees often range between $50 and $150.
- Loss of use fee: Expect to pay between $20 and $40 a day to help make up for lost revenue if the car is damaged and needs repairs.
- Lost value: Should a car lose its value after an accident, the rental company may charge you. The amount you’ll be expected to pay depends on the extent of the damage.
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