10 Tips to Follow If You’re in a Rental Car Accident

In a rental car accident? Follow these 10 tips to handle the situation!

WHN TIP – Be Prepared: Download and print put our two useful accidents pdfs: Car Accident-Another Driver Involved and Car Accident-No Other Driver Involved.

WHN TIP – Advice from Experts: Listen to this podcast for more tips on what to do after a car accident!

First Things First

Whether you’re in a minor fender-bender or a major accident, safety is the first priority.

  1. Pull over to a safe spot, turn on your hazard lights (flashers) and stop before calling for help.
  2. Check for injuries. Call 9-1-1 if there are injuries.
  3. Watch for oncoming vehicles before exiting the car.

WHN TIP – Where To Stand: Stay on the passenger (right side) of the car, not in front or behind it, in case it’s hit in the rear by an oncoming vehicle.

Next Steps

For the next steps, here are top tips from insurance agents and fellow Americans with past rental car accident experience with words of advice on what to do next.

1. Call the local police or law enforcement agent.
You may need to file a copy of the police report for insurance purposes and the rental car company might need one as well. Also, keep in mind that you will be held liable and responsible for any traffic violations that occurred.

2. Call the rental car company.
Check in the glove compartment for the rental car company’s contact information and have your account information ready.

Don’t have the info or can’t get to it? Here’s a list of major rental car company roadside assistance contact numbers:
– Alamo: 1-800-803-4444
– Avis: 1-800-354-2847
– Budget: 1-800-354-2847
– Enterprise: 1-800-307-6666
– Thrifty: 1-877-435-7650

Questions to ask the rental car company:
– How should I document the damage: With photos? In writing? Both?
– What information do you need? (date, time, etc.)
– When and how will I get a replacement car?
– What do I need to know about the charges for the damaged car and the replacement car?
– If I need other assistance such as a hotel or towing can the rental car company provide this? Is it covered under the agreement?

3. Call your insurance agent.
Ask what your own auto insurance policy will cover in this situation and any other questions you think of relating to filing an insurance claim. Your insurance company is well-versed in dealing with rental car companies.

WHN TIP – Contact Your Credit Card Company: Why? Your credit card may offer rental car insurance coverage.

4. Document the damage of the accident.
Even if you don’t have insurance, you should take pictures because it may help the process with the rental car company. Read our post-accident tips from drivers and law enforcement officials on how to document damage and other important information.

5. Towing the car.
If the car needs to be towed to a garage or body shop, be sure to get the exact details of the location and name of the towing company and the body shop. You may be held accountable for these towing and storage fees if your auto insurance policy doesn’t cover it.

WHN Reader TIP – Tow Trouble: “Eight days after the accident, I received a call from the rental company asking me where the car was. They demanded that I pay the full daily rate of the rental for the 8 days that the car sat in the lot that it was at. I’d recommend that anyone who is in this situation be very clear with the rental car company about the exact location of the car after it is towed, and to watch your credit card statement for daily charges for days after the accident.” Mike, Boston, MA

WHN TIP – Grab Your Stuff: Before your car is towed away, remove all of your belongings. Don’t forget to check the trunk, visor, door pockets, glove box and all the dashboard compartments!

6. Keep copies of ALL receipts
Hotels, restaurants, gas, repairs, everything – these expenses may be covered under your own car insurance policy.

WHN Expert TIP – Coverage: If the vehicle needs repair work, your auto insurance may not pay for rental agency expenses, such as loss of rental income while the auto is out of service, or other “incidental” items such as towing, storage, and administrative costs that the rental company may incur. April Williams, MetLife Auto and Home

7. Get extra estimates.
Just like you would for your own car, you may be asked to get several different estimates for the repairs.

WHN Reader TIP – Estimates: “When in LA, I was at a Hollywood party and when I left, I ran into Britt Eklund’s Mercedes and I was driving a tin can Renault. I got three estimates around LA, made copies of them, turned them into my insurance company and with the smashed rental, ended up only paying the deductible of $100.” Robin, Palo Alto, CA

Bottom Line: Document the damage like you would for your own car. You never know what you might be held responsible for!