Car Accidents in Rental Cars

There are several reasons why you might rent a car. Maybe you’re going on vacation. You could be traveling for business. Or maybe you have car problems. These are the most common reasons. The last thing you need is to get in a car accident while you’re driving a rental car. But… car accidents in rental cars happen.. 

Because it happens, it’s important to know how to handle it. You’ll want to protect yourself from liability. Insurance will be a major factor. But more importantly, you need to follow proper protocol after the accident. Following proper protocol will ensure that everything is correctly sorted. In this article, the Lawsuit Info Center is going to explain how to handle a car accident in a rental car. 

When the Crash Happens

Get Your Vehicle Out Of The Way

Before you do anything else, move your vehicle to the side of the road. This could be on the side of the highway or in a residential neighborhood. It could even be on a dirt road. This is important to prevent any further accidents from taking place. It’s stressful when multiple highway lanes or city roads close, and traffic must merge. Simple steps can keep the flow of traffic safer for other drivers on the road.

Assess Injuries & Call 9-1-1

Once your vehicle is out of the way, assess injuries. Some will be obvious; others won’t be. That’s part of why it’s important to call 9-1-1. A team of emergency first responders will come with the police to the scene of the accident. They will examine everyone involved in the accident. If you’re injured, you’ll receive treatment on-scene or transported to the hospital. It depends on how severe your injuries are.

The police will fill out an accident report. That report will include a preliminary assessment of what happened. Their official record of the collision will prove to be instrumental. It will help with getting the insurance coverage you need. They may assign fault. However, insurance companies can make their own decisions regarding fault. 

Exchange Contact Information

The next step is to exchange contact information with the other drivers involved. Without this information, you can’t file a claim with the other driver’s insurance. Also share your driver’s license information, your phone number, and your address. Oftentimes, all this information is on your insurance ID card. 

Take time to snap photos of the damage done. Talk to any witnesses who are willing to go on record about what they saw. They may provide valuable insight that you don’t have. Their testimony could help determine which driver was at fault. 

Go to the Doctor

Creating a trail of evidence for your medical treatment is critical. It proves that your injuries relate to the accident. It will block the other party from claiming that your injuries were from something else. You’ll have the assessment of the first responders. Go to your primary care doctor or urgent care for a follow-up visit. This matters no matter what, even if you aren’t hurt. Some injuries don’t surface for days. Without a follow-up visit, it will be hard to prove causation. 

Contacting the Rental Company

Next, you’ll want to reach out to the rental company. Check the glove compartment of the rental car. You should find a sticker with an emergency phone number listed. Inform the company of the incident. Ask about what steps to take next. Keep your rental agreement and car insurance info on hand. You’ll need both during your call. 

Find out what the rental company needs from you. They likely have a list of what they need. Photos, video, or copies of the accident report will be vital. You might need a new rental car. If you do, you’ll most likely have to fill out paperwork for it. Work with the customer service agent to get a tow and replacement vehicle. Finally, find out what the charges you’re responsible for. 

Contacting Your Insurance Company

Of course, you’ll want to call the rental company first. But after that, call your insurance company. Tell them that you were in an accident. Did you get official coverage from the rental company for the vehicle? If so, you’re covered. But if not, make sure your insurance covers the damage to your vehicle. All vehicles must have basic liability insurance coverage. But collision and comprehensive are additional. They’re not required by law. The collision and comprehensive coverages are what cover rental car accidents. 

You should also verify what your deductible is. Your deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in. Say you caused $10,000 in damages. If your deductible is $250, you’ll pay $250 out of pocket. Your insurance company will pay the rest. 

Handling Your Claim

How Insurance is Handled

Did you purchase extra insurance through the rental company? What about a collision waiver? If so, this information doesn’t apply to you. The rental company will cover the cost of vehicle repair. But if you didn’t purchase those, keep reading to learn how your insurance will handle it.

You’ll need first-party coverage to cover this kind of accident. Third-party coverage covers another driver hitting you. First-party coverage covers damage you cause to your own vehicle. You’ll pay your deductible to the rent company. They will take care of the repairs. 

This is different from handling your own vehicle. In that case, you would find the repair shop yourself. But when you have a rental car, it’s the rental company’s responsibility. This is partly because they need the vehicle repaired immediately. Otherwise, it could hurt their business. 

Did the other driver hit you? If so, give the rental company their insurance. The rental company will have the damages repaired under the other driver’s insurance.

No Rental Coverage

What if you didn’t purchase rental insurance? What if you don’t have comprehensive or collision for your personal insurance policy? With both options unavailable, the car will remain your rental. It will remain so until the damages are fixed and the car can be rented out again. This could take a week or more. 

The only exception to this would be loss-of-use coverage through your car insurance. The loss-of-use coverage will cover part of the cost. You’ll still be responsible for the difference if the cost of the rental car is more than your loss of coverage.

If you bought extra car insurance, you’ll have fine print to read it. You can find it in the paperwork the company gave you when you rented the car. Your insurance might cover everything. Or, it might cover part of the cost. It all depends on what you purchased. 

It’s also possible to use your car insurance as secondary insurance. If so, you’ll need to pay your deductible. Then, your insurance will cover the rest. Check both policies to determine which insurance will pay first. 

When you rent a car, you agree to pay for damages. Rental companies understand that accidents happen. But a collision waiver can release you from liability. But the collision waiver doesn’t protect you from everything. You’ll still need to file a claim for medical bills. That is, if you sustained injuries. If you didn’t, just skip that step. If you caused the accident, you’ll need to file for the other driver, too.

The Protection You Need

Renting a car includes extra responsibility. Insurance is great, but you’ll still have a headache. There are more steps and additional hoops to jump through. Before renting a car, research it. That way, you’ll know how big of a headache to expect. Some rental companies have better policies than others. Go with a company that has a clear policy. Most of all, be sure you’re covered in an accident.

Has all of this information confused you? We understand. It’s a complicated process. But don’t worry. We have the tools to help you through this. Check out our car accident settlement calculator for additional insight. 

Your settlement could be worth a lot if you sustained injuries. Or you could owe the other driver a lot if you injured them. The situation could be complex. That’s when you’ll want to hire an attorney. They have the knowledge and skills you need. They can help you recover damages from injuries after an accident. 

Or, they can help fight back if you were at fault. Your responsibility has limits. The other driver wants to get as much money as they can. That includes their attorney demanding more than they deserve. Your attorney will know how much is reasonable for the other party to ask. They will help you negotiate.

You can get started today at Click “Find an Attorney” at the top of our menu to start the process.

Frequently Asked Questions about car accident settlements

This information can usually be found at the very bottom of the company’s website. You can search the website for “insurance” or “rental car insurance.” If those keywords don’t work, try calling the company. A representative should be able to assist you.

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Tell the police what happened at the scene of the accident. Describe it in as much detail as possible. Also relay this information to your insurance company.

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It’s good to take responsibility for your actions. But the other driver will try to collect as much in damages as possible. Their requests might be unfair. For this reason, we have two recommendations.

First, don’t acknowledge fault to the other driver. Simply exchange insurance information.

Second, hire an attorney. An experienced attorney will know what is fair for the other driver to collect.

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The rental company insurance will cover the accident. You might have some financial responsibility. It all depends on what coverage you purchased. But the insurance will cover some of it.

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In that case, you’ll continue to rent the car until it’s been repaired. This protects the rental company. They won’t lose any money from you being in an accident.

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Primary insurance is responsible first. Secondary insurance will cover what primary insurance won’t.

If you purchase coverage from the rental company, that’s your primary insurance. Your car insurance would be your secondary insurance.

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