What to Do if You’re in a Car Accident in your Rental Car
Most of the time, we drive our own vehicles in our home state, covered by our own personal car insurance. If we get into a car accident, we have a reasonable idea of how our car insurance will protect us. But what happens when you get into a car accident while driving a rental car?
What to do if you’re in a car accident in your rental car
For the most part, a person should follow the same protocols that they would if they were in a car accident in their own vehicle. This includes:
- Make sure that everyone is okay and call 911 if anyone is hurt.
- Call the police to do an accident report and to help redirect traffic, if necessary.
- Exchange contact information with the other driver and any witnesses but do not mention that you are driving a rental car.
- Get the car insurance information and license plate of the other driver.
- Take pictures of the scene and both vehicles from multiple angles.
- Check for a sticker with an emergency number inside the vehicle’s glove box and use it to call your rental car company. Tell them that you were in an accident and ask them how you should proceed.
- Contact your own car insurance company and tell them that you were in an accident. Ask them how your personal insurance coverage policy will cover you.
- Read over any rental car insurance policy fine print. Note that if you booked your car rental with a credit card, they may offer some coverage.
- If you did not buy extra insurance or a collisions waiver when you rented the vehicle, your insurance company will be responsible for paying the rental company for the car. Understand that whether you were at fault for the accident or not, you will be responsible to pay your deductible to the rental car company so they can have the vehicle fixed right away. Your insurance company will then go after the at-fault driver, assuming you were not at fault.
- Understand that if you didn’t buy additional coverage through the car rental company, you will owe rental expenses on the vehicle until the vehicle is repaired and back in their inventory.
Understanding rental car accident coverage
Generally, rental company insurance is combined with personal car insurance to cover property damage and injuries caused by the accident. One thing that’s different in a rental car accident is that you will be responsible for any damage to the vehicle, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The type of insurance that you pay for from the rental car company will affect how this plays out.
Different types of insurance coverage through a car rental company
Most car rental companies offer:
- Personal accident insurance
- Liability coverage
- Personal effects coverage
Personal accident insurance pays for injuries sustained by the driver and other people in the rental car in the event of a car accident. While your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance or your travel medical insurance may cover these expenses, it’s best to be sure by speaking with your insurance provider before renting a car. One factor is the cost of the deductible, which could be quite different from your policy to the personal accident insurance offered by the car rental company.
Liability coverage is sold by car rental companies as a way to walk away from the financial repercussions of causing a car accident while driving a rental car. Liability coverage pays for any property damage and medical expenses suffered by the other people in the car accident. While this coverage can be pricey, it may be worth considering in some circumstances such as for people who don’t own a car or have personal liability coverage.
Personal effects coverage covers damage to your personal property inside the rental car. Anyone who has renter’s, condo or homeowner’s insurance already has this coverage but you may want to purchase it if the deductible is much lower on the coverage offered by the car insurance company and you will be storing valuable goods in the vehicle.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!