With summer well under way in Anchorage, Alaska, many families are taking vacations to far away places. Whether you’re headed down to the lower 42, Hawaii, or Canada, chances are you’re not taking your own car. In most circumstances, a rental vehicle just makes sense.
But what should you do if you are involved in a car accident in a rental car?
This question certainly isn’t at the front of you mind when you are on vacation, but the negligent actions of another driver can quickly and suddenly ruin your trip.
According to a recent post from NerdWallet Travel, handling a rental car accident is similar to what you’d do if you were in your own vehicle during the crash, but a few extra steps can help you in the long run.
Normal car-accident tips include: checking that everyone in your vehicle is okay, calling 911 if necessary, exchanging contact and insurance information with other parties involved, and taking pictures of the scene and damage.
Here’s where things get a little tricky: try not, if possible, to mention to the other driver that you’re driving a rental car, as some people may try to take advantage of this.
As soon as possible, call your car rental company and inform them of the accident. In most rental cars, you can find an emergency phone number inside the glove box. Ask the company how you should proceed (but be sure to read the fine print on your insurance plan and the insurance provided by the rental company).
When informing your own insurance company of the accident, ask whether they’ll take care of filing an accident report with local police, or whether this is your responsibility. Also, check to see if you collision and comprehensive coverage in your policy in addition to the liability coverage by law—this coverage would extend to the car you rent.
If you didn’t purchase extra insurance or a collision waiver when you rented the car, your insurance company is now responsible for paying the rental company for the car (only if your active policy provides first party coverage). Regardless of whether or not you were at fault in the accident, you must pay your deductible directly to the rental company, as the company is entitled to have the rental car fixed as soon as possible. It is then the job of your insurance company—and an experienced car accident injury attorney if you were hurt—to go after the responsible party.
Unfortunately, this can lead to more complications. If you don’t have rental coverage on your policy, you will owe rental expenses to the rental company as if you were still renting the car. For example, if it takes four days to fix the car, you will owe four days of rental payments.
If, by chance, you did purchase extra insurance (likely from the rental company), be sure to read the fine print. Some rental insurance policies provide complete coverage—as long as you pay the premium.
If you purchased a collision damage waiver, which states that you are not responsible for paying for the car after an accident, you must still file a claim for your medical bills in case of an injury.
As you can see, being involved in an accident in a rental car can lead to many questions. To help guide you through these confusing times, contact an experienced Anchorage car accident injury attorney if you have been involved in a rental car accident.
For more information on what to do in the event of a rental car accident, visit the NerdWallet website.