What Happens in a Rental Car Accident?

If you are traveling in a rental car, you are likely enjoying a vacation or traveling for business. The last issue you want to worry about during these times is the possibility of a car accident – however, these incidents are very common and often unavoidable if you are not at-fault. How can you protect yourself from liability and additional charges in this situation?

The Question of Insurance Coverage

One of the first actions you take when you are involved in a car accident is exchanging insurance information with the other driver. However, what insurance options do you have when you get into an accident in a rental car?

When you rent a vehicle, you sign an agreement to return it in the same condition you received it in. You are responsible for any damage or loss to the rental vehicle, even if someone else’s negligence or carelessness causes the accident. You have three main options to cover damages to a rental vehicle following an accident: insurance from the rental car company, your own car insurance, and the credit card you used to pay for your rental.

Rental Car Company Insurance Options

When you rent a vehicle, the company will ask you if you would like to purchase additional insurance coverage. Many people pass on this option, but it is a smart decision to purchase this coverage to save yourself from any extra costs due to an accident. Rental companies usually offer the following forms of insurance to customers.

  • Liability Coverage. This coverage pays for property damage and medical expenses that other people suffer as a result of the accident. The company will often overlap this coverage with liability coverage from your personal car insurance.
  • Personal Accident Insurance. This coverage pays for any of your injuries or any injuries sustained to your passengers. In addition, this coverage can pay for death expenses if any of the injuries are fatal.
  • Collision Damage Waiver. This coverage waives any replacement or repair costs caused by the accident or theft.
  • Personal Effects Coverage. This coverage pays for damaged or lost property in the rental car.

Personal Car Insurance Options

What if you do not purchase supplemental insurance from the rental company? Your personal insurance policy will most likely have similar coverage to what the rental company offers. The rental company will ask you to provide your insurance information so that they can collect damages for the losses from your insurance directly.

Credit Card on File

If you do not purchase insurance or have sufficient coverage from the rental company, you could rely on your credit card company. Depending on your company’s terms of agreement, paying for a rental car using a major credit card can give you insurance. The credit card company may pay for damages to the rental car. However, you should carefully read the terms of agreement to understand if you have coverage and what exactly this coverage protects.

What to Do After a Rental Car Accident

When you get into an accident in a rental car, you should treat it as you would any other accident. If you are able to move, make sure the other passengers and the other driver are okay. Call 911 to receive medical attention and a police report that you can use later in your claim. Exchange information with the other driver and contact your insurance company.

Next, you will need to contact the rental car company and inform them of the accident. You may also need to contact a car accident attorney to discuss the accident and your legal options. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may need compensation to pay for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and other damages you suffer as the result of the crash. An attorney can help you navigate this process and address your options.