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You Just Had a Rental Car Accident. Now What?

rental car accident
Allianz - rental car accident

In the aftermath of a car accident, drivers tend to have more questions than answers:

“What happened?”

“Is everyone OK?”

“What do I do now?”

That uncertainty is only heightened when you’re not driving your own vehicle.

Yes, a rental car accident can be a deeply disorienting experience. But with the right checklist by your side, you can ensure that you’re doing all that can be expected — and legally required — en route to getting back on the road again.

We have taken the time to carefully put together a list of key what steps to take after being involved in a rental car accident below. But first, let’s talk a little bit about how you’re insuring your rental vehicle.

Rental Car Insurance Options

Sometimes it happens at the car rental counter. Other times it’s when we’re making a reservation online. Even though we’ve done this many times before, we tend to freeze up when we’re offered numerous car insurance options through the rental car company. These may include, for example, a collision damage waiver, which covers you for fees to repair or replace the rental car itself in the event it’s damaged or stolen. We’ve detailed other types of insurance you may be offered when renting a car right here.

That self-deliberation around rental car insurance may also accompany the rabbit hole of trying to figure out if your regular car insurance policy or even your credit card can help you out in the event of a fender bender or other incident. (For the former, the answers is “probably, but claims will likely impact your own insurance premiums.” As for credit cards, call up your card provider and get all the details; never assume you’re walking around with “free” coverage in your pocket.)

Allianz Global Assistance has designed a product to simplify and demystify rental car insurance options, so in the event that you’re in a rental car accident, you have what you need to pick up the pieces and move on.

We call this plan Rental Car Damage Protector, and with it, we’ve packaged together the needed peace of mind in the event of a rental car accident. This includes collision loss/damage up to $75,000 — even overseas — with no deductible and access to our 24-Hour Hotline Assistance. Rental Car Damage Protector includes other benefits, too, including Trip Interruption and Baggage Loss/Damage coverage.1

OK, now that you have an idea of what insurance you need to protect yourself in the event of a rental car accident, let’s talk about that moment that occurs right you find yourself rear-ended — in a strange car, on a strange road, and already 5 minutes late for the client pitch meeting.

Steps to Take After a Car Rental Accident

If you’re able to follow the steps outlined after a rental car accident, you’ll be on the road to putting it behind you. Be sure to print this list out (or even email it to yourself for safekeeping on your smartphone).

1. Survey the Situation

Is anyone injured? Are you injured? Are you out of harm’s way or right in the middle of fast-moving traffic? Getting your bearings and getting to a safe place should be atop your priorities in the immediate aftermath of a rental car accident. Once you have those basic details, you can starting thinking about getting help to the scene.

2. Call 9-1-1

You need to make the call even if there are no serious injuries, as you’ll need to have a police report detailing the specifics of the accident.2 (Note that some areas may instruct you to report a minor accident through a non-emergency number if there are no injuries or impediments to the flow of traffic.)

3. Collect Details

While the authorities will conduct the official investigation, you’ll also want to gather as many details about your rental car accident as possible. This includes the time, location, and direction you were driving, as well as the facts about the other vehicles and drivers involved. As for the drivers, ideally you’ll be able to exchange information including name, address, contact details, insurance provider and insurance policy number. Make notes in your smartphone if possible, and while you have it out, take pictures of the scene. One important note: while it’s fine to speak with others involved about these details, avoid conversing about the details of the actual accident — especially who may or may not be at fault.2

4. Contact Third Parties

First off, call your insurance company to report the rental car accident and file a claim. If you have Rental Car Damage Protector through Allianz Global Assistance, you have a few options for getting started. You can dial us at 1-866-672-9580. Or you can skip jotting down or memorizing that number and reach us via our TravelSmart app, which provides one-touch access to assistance from almost anywhere in the world, 24/7. The app, which is available for both iPhone and Android, also allows you to make and track claims. And if you simply want to review your travel insurance plan, you’re always just a few swipes away.3

After contacting the proper party for insurance claims purposes, you’ll want to call the rental car company; be sure to sort out the details of getting another vehicle or how to get to your next destination. And finally, there are the family, friends and colleagues who may have been waiting for you. Be sure to loop them in appropriately as well.

5. Take care of yourself!

Even if you walk away from a rental car accident with just a bump or bruise, it can be a highly stressful event. And if you sustain injuries, that obviously adds to physical and mental toll. Be sure to make some time for self-care whether the accident is simply a speed bump on the road of life or something much more serious.

Driving a rental car isn’t always second nature — the wiper fluid button may be over here instead of there and even the seat may adjust differently than in your day-to-day vehicle. Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with all the car’s features can go miles toward your safety and comfort. Likewise, taking a moment now to prepare a rental car accident plan for later is also a good idea. And with Allianz Global Assistance and the TravelSmart app by your side, that plan just got a whole lot easier.

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Sep 08, 2020