What to Do If You Have an Accident in Your Rental Car
While most of us manage to drive our own cars day after day without incident, there is always the possibility that an accident will occur. Whether it is our own fault, or someone else’s, accidents can and do happen.
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When it comes to renting a car, you’re usually given the option of taking out extra insurance to reduce the amount you would have to pay in the event of an accident, or excess waivers to bring down the cost of the excess.
This may seem like an unnecessary expense, however, it could be worthwhile to consider. Driving on unfamiliar roads in an unfamiliar car can make accidents more likely, or you could just end up being unlucky.
What do you need to do in the event of an accident?
Most rental companies will have procedures for dealing with accidents and incidents on the road. It’s a good idea to check this process before you book the hire car (it should be in the terms and conditions), or before you take the car out of the rental location.
Check with the rental company representative or check the brochure they provide with the car. Most rental companies provide a guide of what to do in various situations, so check that if you are unsure.
As a general guide, the first thing to do in the event of an accident is phone the police. A police officer should attend the scene of the incident, and will usually make a report.
It’s usually not recommended to accept liability until you understand the incident fully. When possible, contact the rental company to advise them of what happened. This may involve phoning their nationwide contact number, or calling the branch where you picked up the car.
Some rental companies will advise you of the next steps to take. If you took out insurance with them, they will typically deal with the claim. If you didn’t take out extra insurance, you will be liable for the damages.
This may mean you have to pay the rental company to cover the damages. In this case, you may want to check with your own car insurance provider to see if they will cover these costs.
Some credit cards offer car rental insurance, so if you paid for the rental with your credit card, call up customer service to see if they will cover the incident. If your car insurance provider or your credit card provider agrees to cover the damages, they will tell you which steps to take next.
If the accident was your fault, you may wish to seek legal representation. If you don’t have comprehensive insurance, you may face a number of expenses, and you could even be sued for compensation.
Whatever happens, always keep lines of communication with all involved parties open, and keep records of all relevant paperwork, including police reports, insurance documentation, and vehicle repair invoices.