What you should know when you have an accident in a rental car

Getting into a car accident is always a stressful experience. Immediately following a crash, you probably know to call the police, exchange insurance information with the other party and take relevant photos of the accident scene.

Later on, when it’s time to sort out the insurance details with your provider, things become a bit more complicated if you were driving a rental car. Here are some basic steps to follow:

Notify your rental company about the accident. There is usually a sticker with the rental company’s contact information in the glove compartment.

  • Ask about any special protocol to follow.
  • Read the rental insurance plan’s fine print.

Contact your insurance company about the accident.

  • Find out what your deductible is.
  • Find out the type of auto insurance you have. Do you just have liability insurance, or do you also have collision and comprehensive coverage? The latter covers you for accidents in a rental car.
  • Notify your insurance company if you bought any additional insurance through the rental company.

If you didn’t purchase extra insurance through the rental company

If you opted against buying a damage waiver or additional insurance through the rental company, then your insurance provider will only pay the rental company if your primary policy has first-party coverage. In this event, you will have to pay the rental company your deductible—regardless of whether the accident was your fault. Then, if the accident was someone else’s fault, your insurance company will go after the at-fault party.

If you didn’t buy rental coverage

If your policy doesn’t include rental coverage, you could be on the hook for additional expenses while the damaged vehicle is being repaired. If the rental car is in the shop for a week, then you may have to pay for the rental company’s missed income during this time—i.e. one week’s worth of rental fees.

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