Rental cars offer great flexibility when you’re in a pinch. Whether your vehicle is in the repair shop or you’re visiting from out of town, a rental provides you with the peace of mind knowing you don’t have to rely on public transportation. But what do you do if you’re in a car accident when driving a rental car? For the most part, handling a rental car accident is very similar to how you’d handle an accident in your vehicle.
However, given the complexity of rental agreements and rental car insurance, there may be unexpected roadblocks. To protect your best interests, it’s a good idea to hire an auto accident attorney.
Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
One of the first things you should do after an accident is to make sure no one is injured. If there are severe injuries, report them to the police when you call 911. If possible, you should move your car to the side of the road. If you think there’s a risk of a car exploding, clear the area and report it to the police as well.
Document the Accident
Documenting the accident is crucial to resolving a car accident. California is a fault state, meaning that, if you cannot prove another party’s liability in your accident, you may not recover compensation for your injuries. To start documentation, you should exchange contact information with the other driver once it is safe to do so. You should retrieve the other driver’s:
- Phone number
- Insurance company and policy
- Driver’s license number
After you swap information, take notes of what transpired in the accident. Take photos of the crash and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. You should also obtain the contact information of any witnesses. The more information you have, the stronger your claim will be.
Call Your Rental Company
The first two steps are things you should do after any accident, but this is where things start to diverge. Rental car accidents typically require large amounts of paperwork. As soon as you can, call the rental car company. An agent will typically give you an emergency phone number when you pick up your rental, and there may be a number inside the glove box or center console.
Usually, the company will have you fill out an incident report, which is why it’s vital to collect evidence.
Rental Car Insurance Options
When renting a car online or through a dealership, an agent may offer you different types of insurance options for the rental car. Some of the policies will overlap with the coverage insurance companies offer. If you choose to waive any insurance options, most rental companies will require proof of car insurance.
Collision Damage Waiver
Also known as a damage waiver or loss damage waiver, with a collision damage waiver, the rental company usually forgives any cost to repair or replace the vehicle if it is damaged or stolen. However, if an accident results from reckless driving or the damage was caused by someone not permitted to drive it, you may have to pay for any damages.
This coverage pays for any property damages or medical expenses other passengers have because of the accident. Liability coverage often overlaps with your insurance. Keep in mind that if you only have the minimum coverage, it may not be enough to cover all the damages.
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal accident insurance may pay for any injuries the driver or passenger sustained. Similar to liability coverage, this may overlap with your insurance policy.
Personal Effects Coverage
This coverage will pay for any lost or damaged personal property that was kept in the rental car. Most homeowners and renter’s insurance policies offer similar coverage.
Do I Have to Contact My Insurance Company after a Rental Car Accident?
You should contact your own insurance company after the rental car company. If you waived the insurance the rental car company offered, you have to notify your insurer. You’ll also want to ask the representative some questions, such as:
- Who will file the incident report with local law enforcement? Is that my responsibility?
- Do I have collision and comprehensive coverage in addition to liability coverage?
- What is my deductible?
If you’re not using your insurance as primary coverage, insurers typically want to be notified when you’re in a car accident, even if you’re not filing a claim with them.
Contact a Skilled Auto Accident Attorney in California Today
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident in a rental car, you should seek competent legal counsel. The attorneys at Setareh Law will walk you through the claims process and communicate on your behalf to any insurance or rental car companies. They will also negotiate to receive the maximum amount of compensation for your accident and any injuries you may have.
Call (310) 659-1826 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.