Breaking Travel News

Crashed on Vacation? What to Do When You Get in a Rental Car Accident

Crashed on Vacation? What to Do When You Get in a Rental Car Accident

Over 75% of Americans take at least one vacation per year, equating to over 225 million people hitting the road to explore new destinations. A popular mode of transportation for travelers is renting a car—the rental car industry is worth over 40 billion dollars globally. In 2023, 18% of American adults aged 18 and older, around 48 million people, will rent a car for vacation, according to industry data.

With so many drivers out on unfamiliar roads, it’s inevitable that some will be involved in accidents. Rental car companies have procedures in place for these incidents, but it’s crucial that renters know what to do should they get into a crash.

Remain at the Scene
If you’re in an accident while driving a rental car, the first step is to remain at the scene. Leaving could potentially result in criminal charges. Make sure you and any passengers are unharmed. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately. If the crash results in major damage or injury, wait for the police to arrive and file an accident report.

Exchange Information
If the accident is minor, exchange contact and insurance information with the other involved parties. Get the name and phone number of the other driver along with their driver’s license and insurance details. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information too in case their statement is needed later.

Document the Scene
Use your smartphone to take photos of any damage to both vehicles, the overall scene, and any injuries sustained. Capture shots from multiple angles. These pictures can serve as vital evidence if disputes arise later.

Contact the Rental Company
One of the first calls you’ll want to make is to the rental car company. Explain what happened and ask about next steps regarding insurance claims, repairs, replacement vehicles, accident reports, etc. Have your rental agreement number handy. Clarify if you should file a claim with your own car insurance or the rental company’s. Find out where to get the rental inspected or repaired if needed.

File a Police Report
In many states, you must legally file an official police report after an accident if damage exceeds a certain dollar amount. This threshold can range from $500 to $2,500. Even if not mandated, having an official report can help facilitate insurance claims.

Contact Your Insurance Provider
To open a claim, notify your own car insurance provider about the rental accident. However, don’t assume your policy extends to a rental. Clarify if you need to file the claim directly through the rental company’s insurer instead. If you booked the rental with a credit card, check if it includes rental car insurance that could help cover damages and liability.

Consider Contacting a Car Accident Attorney
For serious accidents involving major injuries or property damage, it may be wise to contact a car accident lawyer for guidance on how to proceed. They can help you understand your rights and options regarding negligence claims, liability, and obtaining appropriate compensation from insurers. An attorney can also represent you if any lawsuits arise.

Secure a Replacement Rental
If the rental is un-drivable, ask the company about a replacement vehicle. Will this be provided for free or will you have to pay? Be prepared that you may need to go pick it up yourself if roadside assistance is not offered. Don’t forget to transfer any personal items from the damaged car into the replacement.
A rental car accident can quickly derail your vacation plans if you’re unprepared on how to handle it. Following these key steps can help you properly address the situation to minimize frustrations and keep your trip back on track.