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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.