If the rental car you’ve been entrusted with is involved in an accident, the steps you would take in the immediate aftermath are very similar to what you’d do if it was your own car. Aside from making sure everyone involved is not hurt, moving the damaged vehicles out of the way and calling the police, there is always the matter of exchanging insurance information. An extra step with a rental car, though, is to call the rental car agency. After all, it’s their car. In fact, this should happen before you call your insurance company. If you’re in an accident in a rental car, stay composed, document the damages and do everything you need to do to get the whole affair straightened out.
Immediately after an accident occurs, make sure everyone is all right. If anyone involved in the accident seems to be injured, call 911 right away. If there are no injuries aside from being shaken up, call the police to file an accident report. At this point, when you are waiting for the officer to arrive on the scene, document any damage. Whether you use a phone camera or other digital camera, the more pictures you can provide to the insurance company and rental agency the better, especially if you know it was not your fault. Do this before the cars are moved out of the way if their position indicates culpability.
After the police arrive, a report will be taken and the cars will be moved or towed away if necessary. Once you’ve given your statement to the police, it’s time to call the rental agency. You’ll find the number either on your receipt in the glove compartment or on a sticker somewhere in the car. There may be a 1-800 number provided for when accidents occur. If you’re unsure what will happen on the agency’s end, you will receive instruction. If you’re away from where you rented the car and you purchased insurance from the rental agency, you may be able to return the car to the nearest location and get another car.
When you rent a car, the agency always offers optional insurance. Usually there are two levels: basic and full coverage. Basic insurance typically only covers bodily injury and property damage inflicted on another vehicle. Much like basic car insurance coverage, it doesn’t cover damage to the rental car. The full coverage insurance option covers the rental car itself. Before you decide to pass up the insurance option, you should know the potential consequences of being involved in an accident. Perhaps your personal car insurance covers you in rental cars as well, but you want to be sure of that first. It’s also important to know that you could be responsible for damages to a rental, regardless of fault in an accident.
Even if you purchase the full insurance option through the rental agency, it may not cover additional expenses like towing the car, storing the car, value lost from misuse and other charges you may incur. It’s best to avoid accidents when you rent a car, but if one is unavoidable, having insurance through the agency will save you a lot of money.