2021 Nissan Altima SV Hertz
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

8 Steps to Follow If Your Rental Car Is Involved In an Accident

You should never need this article — but if you do...

Driving a car is both a significant responsibility and a privilege — not a right — as one operates a large machine which is capable of causing damage and either injuring or killing a person or an animal when not used properly. Plenty of things are needed for and while traveling — and an accident with a rented motor vehicle is certainly not one of them.

8 Steps to Follow If Your Rental Car Is Involved In an Accident

Hertz car
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Knowledge can be a valuable asset with regard to an unexpected accident with motor vehicles — people rarely intentionally smash or damage motor vehicles, which is why they are called accidents — and you need to know what to do if you get into an accident with a vehicle that you rented.

Before You Book a Reservation For a Rental Car…

Before you even book a reservation to rent a vehicle, consider taking the following steps:

  • Get basic information. Keep a record of emergency telephone numbers — as well as where to find accident report forms and incident report forms — so that you may respond more quickly should something adverse happen.
  • Procedures. Research the procedures of the company from which you plan on renting a vehicle — as different rental car companies have different procedures — and ensure you become as familiar with them as possible.
  • Research your insurance coverage. Often, your personal automobile insurance policy and credit card may cover you — but check to be absolutely sure. Also, know the limits to each coverage and the amounts of the deductibles — as well as whether the insurance coverage is primary or secondary.
  • Prepare to pay for insurance if you do not have coverage for rental vehicles. If you do not already have insurance that covers rental vehicles, consider purchasing insurance from a third party — and if that is not possible, you may need to purchase insurance from the rental car company as a last resort, as that is an expensive option because selling insurance has a potentially high profit margin for the rental car company.
  • Have all of your important documents with you, which includes a driver’s license — and an international driving permit if you are traveling to another country which requires one.
2022 Ford Edge Hertz
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Now that you are ready to rent a motor vehicle, you arrive at the counter at the rental car facility — or perhaps you just head straight to an area where you can choose the vehicle you prefer. You hope to have a safe and enjoyable experience with the rental vehicle — but know that at any time, an accident could occur…

…and if you are involved in an accident:

1. Ensure That All Parties Involved Are All Right.

The safety of everyone involved is of the utmost importance. If someone is injured, call 911 immediately if someone is injured. If necessary, move to a safe location. Contact the police to report the incident.

2. Call 911.

Calling 911 is important because you will have a law enforcement officer arrive at the scene and be an official witness of sorts to what happened.

3. Ask For a Police Report When a Law Enforcement Officer Arrives.

A police report is an official document which is a record of the information of the parties involved — as well as what the parties admit and a record of any other evidence of what happened — and a police report of the accident is usually better than not having one for insurance purposes. Some rental car companies and insurance companies require a police report to process a case.

Get the:

  • Name of the law enforcement officer
  • Badge number of the law enforcement officer
  • Contact information of the law enforcement officer — they usually carry business cards — and
  • The case number of the accident, if it is available yet

Request a police report from the law enforcement officer for two main reasons:

  • In case someone is injured — or if evidence of a hidden injury surfaces later
  • In case property is damaged — or if evidence of any hidden damage to the vehicle surfaces later

4. Gather Evidence and Information.

Exchange contact information and insurance information with other motorists — as well as any parties who are injured.

Take as many photographs of the damage and of the scene of the accident as possible — and especially ensure that you take photographs of the license plate of each vehicle involved as close as possible, as you never know when another driver will flee the scene of an accident before law enforcement officers arrive.

5. Call The Rental Car Company and Follow Instructions On What To Do Next. 

Use the emergency telephone number of the rental car company to report the accident involving your rental vehicle. Describe what happened in as much detail as possible so that the customer service representative can give you the best suggestions and advice possible.

Follow the instructions of the customer service representative as closely as possible — such as where to bring the rental vehicle if it can be driven; and where to have it towed if it cannot be driven.

Take the name and telephone number of the customer service representative. If it is not already in your mobile telephone automatically, note the date and time you spoke to him or her.

6. Call The Provider Of Your Automobile Insurance.

Start filing a claim as soon as possible through your personal automobile insurance agency, credit card company, or third party provider of automobile insurance, as insurance companies — especially with insurance coverage from a credit card — are more likely to deny a claim that is filed late.

7. The Rental Vehicle Is Still Your Responsibility. 

Regardless of what happens, you are ultimately responsible for the rental vehicle during the rental period — and you signed a contract agreeing to this responsibility.

Unless otherwise advised by a customer service representative of the company, if the rental vehicle:

  • Can be driven, bring it back to the rental office or to another location in the company network
  • Is not operational enough to be driven, call for roadside assistance from the rental company, the American Automobile Association, the provider of your credit card, or another provider; and have the rental vehicle towed to the rental car company location or an automotive repair shop

8. File a Report With the Rental Car Company.

The rental car company will likely request a police report of the accident, which will include — but not be limited to — the details of the incident, the parties who were involved, and your insurance information.

Final Boarding Call

Sport Utility Vehicle
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The reason why I felt compelled to write this article was because I was involved in an accident in which the driver of a sport utility vehicle hit the rear end of the vehicle which I was driving

…and in an update to that incident, the law enforcement officer visited the home of the driver of the sport utility vehicle. Although he did not detect if she was in an inebriated state at the time he visited her, she did admit fault to the accident and also to leaving the scene of the accident. She was charged with following too close.

This information was from the police report, which included her name, address, and other important information which I would need in case a hidden injury or hidden damage surfaces.

Of course, I would rather that not happen — but just in case…

All photographs ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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