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What Should Be Done If an Accident Occurs to Rental Car?

Accident Occurs to Rental Car

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If you find yourself in possession of a rental car, it likely indicates that you are embarking on a journey for business or leisure purposes. Regardless of the reason, the prospect of encountering a rent a car accident is undoubtedly something you wish to avoid. However, accidents can occur even with a rental car. In the unfortunate event of such an incident, here’s what you can anticipate.

One concern that may arise is the responsibility for covering the damages incurred by the rental car post-accident. The resolution of this matter generally hinges on the type of rental car insurance you possess. Additionally, determining the party at fault for the collision is crucial.

Steps to take immediately after facing an accident

Following are some immediate steps you have to take after facing an accident:

Ensure everyone’s safety

Following any car accident, it is crucial to prioritize the safety of yourself and others by promptly moving them out of harm’s way. However, it is important to note that individuals should not be moved if they are experiencing significant pain. Like having a broken leg, or if there is a suspicion of injury or fracture to the back.

Exchange information and document the incident

Once everyone is safe, the next step is to exchange your contact details with anyone else involved in the accident. This applies whether the collision occurred with another vehicle or someone else’s property. Regardless of whether they were present at the scene.

In the case of colliding with a parked car, leave your details on a note under their windscreen wiper. If there are other individuals involved, then exchange car registration numbers, names, addresses, and telephone numbers. If possible, take photographs of the scene and any damages as soon as you can. Additionally, make a note of the following details:

    •         Color, make, and model of all vehicles involved.
    •         Date and time of the accident.
    •         Description of weather conditions, road conditions, and presence of street lighting.
    •         Any damages sustained by vehicles and property.
    •         Injuries sustained by drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Notify the rental company

Contact the rental company, whose contact number can be found on the rental agreement, and explain the situation to them. They should be responsible for arranging recovery, repairs, and replacement of the rent a car if necessary. They will also handle interactions with insurance companies or any other parties involved in the accident.

Typically, rental companies will not provide refunds for any payments made unless it was previously agreed upon. Therefore, if you choose to make payments directly, it is unlikely that you will be reimbursed by the rental company.

Find Out Who is Responsible for the Accident?

Determining the responsibility for damages in a rental car accident depends on various factors. Here’s an explanation of different scenarios:

If You Caused the Accident

If you were at fault for the accident while driving the rental car, you are legally liable for the damages. If you have insurance coverage, your insurer should bear the responsibility for covering the damages. It is crucial to be familiar with your insurance coverage options to ensure adequate protection.

Typically, rental car insurance should cover the accident damages unless you violated the terms of your rental agreement. However, if you lack coverage in a specific area, you may be held personally responsible. In the absence of rental car insurance, your personal auto insurance policy should step in to cover the costs.

When Another Driver is at Fault

If another driver caused the accident, they are legally responsible for the damages. In such cases, your rental company will work with the other driver’s insurance provider to resolve the matter. However, it’s possible that the rental company might charge you for damages before the case is settled.

If you are charged by the rental company, you will need to seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance. The insurance company should cover the amount you were charged by the rental company.

It’s worth noting that insurance companies often engage in contentious negotiations. They may try to evade liability or offer inadequate compensation. Engaging the services of a rental car accident lawyer from the beginning can be beneficial to navigate these complexities and safeguard your rights.

Additional Costs You Might Encounter in a Rental Accident

It’s important to be aware that rental companies often seek avenues to recover their costs. Following an accident, you might face additional fees, such as:

    •         Loss of vehicle value
    •         “Loss of use” charges while the rental car is being repaired
    •         Processing fees related to your claim

If you have concerns about these additional costs, consulting with your lawyer is advisable. They can provide guidance on what charges are reasonable and acceptable. If you were not at fault for the accident, you should not be held responsible for the damages.

Insurance that provides accidental coverage

There are several types of insurance that may provide coverage for rental car accidents:

Personal Auto Insurance

Your personal auto insurance policy often extends coverage to rental cars. The same deductibles and coverages that apply to your personal vehicle may apply to the rental car. However, there might be limitations, such as exclusions for renting cars in foreign countries.

Credit Card Car Rental Insurance

Some credit card companies offer car rental insurance, typically covering theft or damage to the rental car. It’s important to note that credit card coverage usually doesn’t provide liability coverage for injuries to others involved in the accident.

Insurance Purchased Through the Rental Car Company

Damage Waivers

This insurance covers any damage to the rental car in the event of a covered incident.

Supplemental Liability Insurance

It provides additional liability coverage if you cause harm to others or their property.

Personal Accident Insurance

This insurance pays for medical expenses for you and your passengers due to an accident.

Personal Effects Insurance

It covers stolen items from the rental car.

It’s essential to carefully review the terms and limitations of these policies. There may be exclusions or restrictions on coverage, such as luxury car exclusions or secondary coverage. Moreover, it’s important to consult with your insurance provider, credit card company, or rental car company to understand the specific coverage and limitations that apply in your situation.


Being prepared and knowing what to do in the event of a rental car accident is essential. Prioritizing safety, contacting emergency services, and notifying the rental car company are crucial steps to take. Understanding your insurance coverage and seeking legal advice, if necessary, can help protect your rights and navigate any potential complexities. By following these steps, you can effectively handle a rental car accident and work towards a resolution while minimizing potential difficulties and ensuring the safety and well-being of all parties involved.


Will my car insurance cover damage to a rental car?

Typically, your primary car insurance extends to your rental car if it’s for personal use, but it depends on your policy’s terms and conditions.

Does my credit card have rental car coverage?

Certain credit cards offer rental car coverage for accidents or theft.

Do I need extra insurance when renting a car?

If you have primary car insurance, you may not need additional insurance at the rental car counter. Primary car insurance policies usually extend coverage to rental cars. You may also have primary rental car coverage through your credit card.

What’s the difference between primary and secondary coverage?

Primary coverage is the insurance that is initially utilized when filing a claim after an accident. It covers the costs up to the policy’s limits. Secondary coverage comes into play after primary coverage has been exhausted. It usually covers expenses not covered by the primary insurance, such as deductibles or additional costs.

What are the implications if you cause damage to a rental car?

If you damage a rental car, your auto insurance may cover the losses.

What should be done following an accident involving a rental car?

After an accident in a rental car, notify the rental car company about the collision. If required by state law or the severity of the accident, contact the police.

Does regular car insurance extend to rental cars?

Generally, your standard auto insurance coverage applies when driving a rental car and being involved in an accident. This includes liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. 

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