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What to Do When You Are in a Rental Car Accident

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Last summer I was in one of the stupidest car accidents ever. I backed into a pole. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. I would get the paint touched up or ignore it as best I could until I decided that I wanted it fixed. However, this happened in a rental car. Suddenly a bit of scratched paint turned into a huge deal that took added paperwork plus calls with my insurance company and the rental car company. It was a headache, but that is only because I wasn’t prepared and didn’t know what to do. No one ever expects to be in an accident when they are renting a car!

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So you’ve been in a rental car accident — now what?

There are three things you need to do the moment an accident happens while you are in a rental, no matter whose fault it is.

1. Call 911 if there are any injuries. People are more important than vehicles. Make sure everyone is OK and injuries are taken care of immediately.

2. Request a police report. If damage is done to your car by another vehicle, you will need an accident report to send to your insurance company and the rental car company.

3. Take notes and pictures. Photograph both cars and any damage done to them to show your insurance company and the rental agency. Exchange information with the other party involved. Write down the date and time of the accident for your accident report too.

What’s next?

Now that you have the accident basics covered, you need to give your rental car agency a call. Let them know what happened and be prepared to fill out an accident report once you return the vehicle, if it is still drivable. If not, talk to your rental agency about a replacement car.

Insurance companies and credit cards

Once you notify your rental car agency that you have been in an accident, you need to make two more calls: to your insurance agent and your credit card company.

·Insurance agent: Give your car insurance agent a call and let them know you had an accident in a rental car. They will be able to review your policy with you to make sure rental cars are covered and let you know what kind of deductible you are looking at, if any.

·Credit Cards: If you booked your rental car with your credit card, call your credit card company to see if they cover rental car damages through your card benefits. There can be rental time limits on the coverage your credit card can provide, and USA rental times will differ from international rentals.

Rental car insurance

If you paid for the additional rental car insurance, you may not have to deal with most of this. Than again, you might have to. Remember to read the policy they are trying to sell to you very carefully. Loopholes are how they make their money.

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Now that you have filed all of your paperwork and let all appropriate parties know about your accident, you should be able to sit back and just wait for someone to send you a bill. In the end, I paid about $300 out of pocket for the paint retouch plus three days the car could not be rented out to other renters. This was less than my deductible, so I just paid the bill. The rental car agency sent me a detailed bill for their repairs, including photos so I could see where all of the money was going. It wasn’t as traumatic as it could have been if another car was involved, but it was still a hassle. Next time I’ll be better prepared, and now so will you.

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