Questions Answered: How to Handle an Accident in a Rental Car

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When it comes to car accidents in rental cars, the best way to approach handling the situation is to treat every aspect of it as if you’re dealing with your own car that you bought and paid for with your own hard-earned dollars. This approach will not only be appreciated by the rental car provider, but it will also end up saving your pocketbook a lot of grief.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions in regards to rental car accidents that are answered with best practices, advice, and tips for getting out of a rental car accident financially unscathed.

Q: What happens if I didn’t purchase insurance from the rental car company?
As long as you have your own personal auto-insurance, you should be just fine. In fact, by default any charges would go to your own auto insurance first anyway, putting you in charge of the deductible, until the rental insurance kicks in to reimburse you. However, you can possibly avoid having to pay out-of-pocket for the deductible if you rented the car with a credit card that provides car rental insurance as one of its benefits. In most cases, this benefit will pay for the deductible.

Q: What is the first thing I should do if I get into an accident in my rental car?
Call the police! That’s the absolute first course of action with any accident. You’ll want that police report as documentation for both your rental car provider and your insurance company. Plus, it’ll definitely come in handy if the other party involved in the accident wants to start “telling stories” about what actually happened—a possibly that could be financially detrimental.

Q: Should I take my own photos of the accident?
Absolutely! You’ll want as much documentation as you can get your hands on. Take photos, scribble down notes about the location, time, weather, witness testimony, your own account of what happened (while it’s fresh in your mind), and the other party’s account of what happened (in case it changes later). Both your insurance company and your car rental provider will want to see all documentation.

Q: When should I call my insurance company and car rental provider?
Preferably, right after you call the police and take a few moments to start collecting some details. It’s not a good idea to wait, as they may have specific documentation that they would like you to collect while you’re still on the scene of the accident.

Q: What happens if my rental car needs to be towed?
If you’re discovering this after you’ve gotten off the phone with your insurance and car rental providers, go ahead and give them a call back to discuss the details of the tow. You’ll want to know what’s covered by your insurance company and the car rental company will want to know exactly where the car will be for them to pick it up. If they have to wait to receive this information, they may go ahead and charge your credit card for additional rental days.

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