If car accidents in your own car are frightening and difficult, just imagine how unnerving a car accident in a rental car might be. What if someone suffers a brain injury, spinal cord injury or other serious injury? Will the car rental agency hold you liable for damages? While it is normal to have these worries, there are several things that drivers can do to ensure that they stay safe and secure in rental cars.
Insurance is one of the most important decisions you will make when renting a car. While it can be confusing, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you are covered. First, check your credit cards and your existing personal and auto insurance coverage. What exactly are you covered for – and not covered for? Be sure to check rental car models and exceptions. Then, contact the car rental agency you plan to use and ask about any policies that would cover what it already not covered by your main insurance policy. You may need to speak to a head office – not all counter agents know the intricacies of the insurance policies offered.
Keep in mind that even if you have insurance coverage, much of the coverage that protects you may be void if you drive recklessly or drink and drive. Use good sense and drive carefully when in your rental car. If you are in a collision, do what you would normally do:
1) Check to make sure that everyone is well and call for emergency help if anyone has suffered an injury. If someone has suffered a brain injury or spinal cord injury, avoid moving that person as you may cause further injury.
2) Exchange names, numbers, contact information, and insurance information with the other driver. Stay at the scene of the accident until help arrives.
3) Start documenting. As soon as you can, take pictures of the accident, car damage, and take down any names, numbers, or information you can. The badge number of the police officer on the scene, the exact time of the collision, the license plate number of the other car – even tiny details can prove important later on. Make sure that you keep all your documentation yourself. If the car rental agency or your insurance provider requires some of your documentation for their own investigation, provide them with a copy of your notes or a copy of your photos but keep a copy for yourself as well just in case your information gets lost.
4) Contact the rental car agency. All car agencies have a 24-hour phone number. You should call the number as soon as possible after the accident to get further details about the procedure you must follow. Not reporting the accident in a timely manner can create problems, so do call.