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No matter how hard you try to practice car safety, accidents still happen. There are steps you can take if you find yourself in that situation. But what if you get into an accident in a rental car? Is that any different? Here’s what you should do and who might be responsible for the damages. 

What happens if you get into a car accident in a rental car?

According to Allstate, when you get into an accident in a rental car, the steps you need to take afterward aren’t all that different from the ones you’d take with your own vehicle. The first and most important step is to make sure everyone involved is OK. Then, if anyone needs medical attention, call 911. 

Also, if your disabled car will disrupt the traffic flow, try to move it off the roadway. You don’t want to leave it on the road unless it’s inoperable. When you take care of those steps, you can begin exchanging insurance information with the other driver and taking note of the damages to your rental car. 

According to NerdWallet, you should take photos of the accident scene and the vehicle to document the damage. Jot down what happened to the best of your recollection, and don’t be afraid to check with any witnesses for any other bits of information you might not have been aware of. It would be best if you didn’t discuss who’s at fault while speaking with the other driver. Your insurance companies will sort that out. 

Be sure to contact the rental car company to let an agent know you were involved in an accident. They can give you any instructions regarding your rental vehicle. 

Who pays when you’re at fault in a rental car crash?

If it turns out you’re the one at fault in the accident, you’re responsible for the damages to both vehicles. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to pay the full cost out of your own pocket. Instead, you might be covered, at least partially, in a few different ways. 

The auto insurance covering your own vehicle will cover some aspects of the rental car accident. Check your policy to see what your insurer will cover, or call your agent for an explanation. 

You might be liable for the deductible, but your policy might cover most of it, depending upon your coverage. Even liability insurance will cover a portion of the damages to other vehicles and resulting medical bills. 

Some rental car agencies offer insurance. Though it’s not always needed, it might be worth the money if you think you might be underinsured or uninsured. However, you must purchase that coverage before driving off in a rental vehicle. 

Finally, some credit card issuers offer limited collision coverage for rental cars. If your card has that, it might help pay for some of the costs. 

Who pays when it isn’t your fault?

If the accident wasn’t your fault, the other driver will be responsible for the damages. Their insurance will cover whatever it can, depending upon their policy. However, if they don’t have auto insurance or are underinsured, you could be responsible for the damages to the rental car. 

Before you travel, it would be a good idea to have insurance that covers the costs if you get into an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough to cover the total damages to your rental car. 

If the accident happens in a no-fault state, be sure to contact your insurance agent to see how you need to proceed, especially if you don’t have no-fault insurance. 

And if you’re with someone who was driving your rental car and they caused the accident, the fault could still lie with you. If the other person is listed on the rental car application as an additional driver, you might not have to worry. But if they’re not, you would be responsible. Neither your insurance company nor the rental car’s insurance would likely pay for damages or medical bills because the driver wasn’t authorized to drive the vehicle. 

All in all, reporting an accident with a rental car isn’t much different from reporting a crash involving your own vehicle. But you have to make sure the rental company knows you were in an accident, and you might have to take a few extra steps depending upon the rental agency’s requirements. 


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