Things are slightly different when you are involved in an accident with a rental car, but the paperwork mostly remains the same as when you are in your own car.
To get yourself off the financial hook, you’ll need to have a great lawyer if the case goes to court. This is because you might be billed for crash damages even if you weren’t at fault for the crash in the first place.
Getting off scot-free usually depends on the insurance policy you have, and various other aspects such as who was at fault for the crash, witness reports, injury damages, and hospital bills.
As you can see, there are a whole lot of factors that influence the outcome of a rental car accident. However, the actual probability of the crash itself isn’t reduced one bit.
Come what may, it is very important to have your back covered when in an accident, especially overseas, because costs could quickly skyrocket.
You may have travel insurance that can help get you reimbursed for missed flights and bookings, and medical costs, but it may not cover your litigation expenses. You may have travel health insurance for medical coverage abroad, but it may not cover your missed flights home due to hospital time.
You may have car insurance, but they aren’t liable to pay damages to the opposing party (they’ll only repair the car).
Steps To Take Before Renting a Car
Safeguard yourself by getting as much coverage as you can. This sounds a bit obvious, yes, but people often miss what is right under their noses.
What are the types of insurance that can help you out in the case of a rental vehicle accident?
- Your regular car insurance: may cover repairs and item loss
- Your credit card company: may cover SOME of the repair costs;
- The rental car company: can cover everything if you bought their own insurance;
- Your personal accident insurance: Differs from provider to provider
- Your liability coverage: can cover items that got damaged in the crash/theft.
Also, it is a sound idea to take the rental car company up on any insurance options that they offer you.
Sure, these options are a little pricey, but the main advantage is that the insurance company probably has a partnership with the rental company.
The insurance company and the rental company will process claims rather quickly if an accident should occur.
The clerk at the desk will usually offer you some type of insurance. Grab it while you can, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Nowadays, some of the bigger insurance companies have even begun to roll out one-off “rental car insurance” plans that cover your rental car on one trip.
It is important to note that if you utilize your normal auto insurance, the premium is liable to increase, especially if you are overseas.
Also, credit card insurance requires some research. They may charge it to your account if you do not review your statement.
The best thing to do is to phone all of your different service providers prior to setting out, and get on record the extent of their coverage.
You’ve Just Wound up in an Accident. What Should You Do?
Survey any damage to your person, and check in on the other passengers as well. If there are no discernable injuries, follow these steps:
1. Call MedEvac Services. Even if there are no visible injuries, there is the possibility of internal bleeding or concussions.
Call emergency medical services, so that professional paramedics can check you out. Once they have given the all-clear, proceed with the next step.
If there are any injuries, attempt some form of first-aid: apply pressure to lacerations, tightly bandage open wounds, and straighten any sprains.
Do NOT attempt to move an injured person, or if the patient seems to have any broken bones.
2. Gather Details. Look for any witnesses to the accident. Immediately approach them and ask for their contact details.
Get their name, address, phone number, and email. These may come in handy if the accident is escalated to a court of law.
Ensure that the witness saw your side of the story: there is no sense in giving the opposition ammo — this may get you incriminated even if you weren’t guilty.
3. Inform The Police. Once you’ve gotten your head relatively clear, it’s time to call the local authorities.
Phone the police and immediately give your location, then say that you’ve had an accident. The other party may try to stop you from phoning, so give the police your location first.
Some police departments may ask you to report “minor” accidents (those without any physical injuries) via non-emergency channels.
The police will ask you a lot of questions, so it may be best to note down your recollection of events exactly as you recall them.
Remember: tell the truth and stick to your guns. The fastest way to lose credibility with any law enforcement body is to switch stories frequently.
Do not volunteer any information — just tell the officers what they ask you. Keep in mind that they are professionals who have been trained to handle situations like yours.
It’s all in the job description for them, so try not to make anyone mad by having a holier-than-thou attitude towards things.
4. Take Lots Of Clear Photos. Take photos of everything. A single photograph could be the difference between your claim getting approved or denied.
Take close-up shots of the damaged areas, interior damages, surrounding roadside, weather, and hold a watch in front of some of the photos to establish a valid timeline.
Don’t neglect the other vehicle either — that’s just as crucial. The same rules apply: close-ups of the vehicle, driver, interior, and surrounding area.
Make sure that the license plates of both vehicles are clearly visible in as many shots as possible.
If any of your assets have been damaged in the crash, leave them as they were and take photos of those, too. Insurance companies love throwing out claims based on things “being moved about too much.”
The police are probably on their way by now, so start collecting all of your information in one place for easy access.
Obtain your passport number, driver’s license number, your visa number (if applicable), and your insurance policy number.
These will come in handy when the officers fill out their paperwork relating to claims filed.
5. Inform The Insurance Companies. The only way to get your money back is to file a claim with all of your insurance companies.
You should be able to do this by reaching out to your providers via their hotlines (they probably have a 24-7 mobile number in operation).
Inform the customer service representative of the nature of your accident, and state your policy number. Ask them to initiate your claims process.
More likely than not, they will tell you to “not touch anything until we get there” — so follow that instruction.
If you’re not feeling up to dealing with a rental car agent, ask the insurance company agent to inform the rental car company about the accident.
So, insurance saved the day — again. The main thing to do is take care of yourself. No amount of money will ever make up for permanent damages or loss of life.
Putting your issues down on paper is simply to prove that you are an honest and transparent person who abides by the law. After all, you shouldn’t have to pay for something you didn’t do. There are people who will try to take advantage of you, so take these steps to safeguard yourself.
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