What to do in case of an accident with a rental car?

Have you ever felt helpless in this situation or panicked just imagining it? If so, know that you are not alone. Among the questions related to problems when renting a car, we find disagreements with the landlord and deposit not returned, but it is still very often the accident that springs to mind. We know that it is painful to live with and to manage, especially when driving a rental car. Keep this article handy to find out how to respond, what document to fill out, who to alert and what financial consequences to expect.

2. Adopt 3 basic but essential first reflexes

If necessary, call the emergency services or the police

If someone is injured and/or the accident is a traffic offence, use an emergency call station on the motorway or call 112 on your mobile to be redirected to the competent services. This toll free number is valid everywhere in the EU. If you are traveling outside this perimeter (with the consent of the hirer to be insured), remember to note before leaving the applicable numbers in force in the country(s) you will be crossing.

Secure the accident scene

Turn on your hazard lights, turn off the engine, put on your safety vest, get all passengers out of the vehicle and set up the warning triangle 30 meters away.

keep calm

To act quickly and well, you cannot afford to lose control of the situation or, even worse, to escalate it.

2. Fill out the report carefully

Whether or not you are liable, alone or against a third party who is also involved, you must disclose one duly completed European accident report form to the landlord. This document makes it possible to establish the circumstances of the incident, to report the damage and to decide on the person or persons involved, the responsibility of each individual and the compensation.

You will usually find a paper copy in the glove compartment which must be returned within the time specified in the contract (often 5 to 7 days). However, if the accident is only significant between two motorized vehicles registered in France, you can opt for an e-constat via a downloadable mobile application (e.constat auto). You save time and can even add pictures to your file for proof in addition to the required sketch. You will receive a copy by e-mail, and the process will automatically proceed electronically.

Attention. Once the report is signed, it cannot be changed.

If there is a small disagreement with the counterparty, indicate it in the “Remarks” box reserved for this purpose before signing. If the disagreement is fundamental, complete the statement each on your side and send it to insurance within 5 days. To do this, note the registration number of the other vehicle, its insurance and the contract number on the green sticker.

Finally, note that:

  • If you rented a car between individuals via Yes, because Where Get around for example, the procedure is the same (reporting in the event of an accident with a third party and declaration of damage with the owner when returning the vehicle). You just have to remember to specify platform insurance policy number and not the owner’s.
  • If the other driver came to to escapeshould you try to get the contact details of as many witnesses as possible (neighbors, passers-by, etc.) file a complaint at the police stationcomplete the report and send it to the insurance company.

rental car accident

3. Notify the rental company as soon as possible

If you have been through a traditional company, you will find in the general conditions of your contract an emergency number you can call in the event of an accident. After explaining the circumstances, your contact will decide whether you can return to the road or not and will tell you what to do. He can arrange a breakdown service or towing, and sometimes even a replacement at the nearest branch if the accident is not your fault. Be careful, whatever the verdict, never leave the vehicle on site and do not initiate any repairs on your end. You would not be covered by insurance or business partners, nor reimbursed by the rental company.

In the case of a rental between individuals, you must first contact the owner to inform him of the situation, then call the assistance number displayed on the platform for the rest of the steps (especially if the car must be immobilized) .

rental car

4. Pay your dues, as applicable

If you are not responsible, it is very simple: you have nothing to pay. It is the other driver’s insurance that covers the costs of any repairs and replacements. With a traditional rental company, there is no deductible, you get your security back every time. For a rental between individuals, on Getaround for example, the end result is the same, but the amount of your excess is deducted at the time of confirmation.

If, on the other hand, you are the cause of the accident, regardless of whether you have had this accident alone or whether a third party is involved, the bill depends on your level of insurance.

Any basic contract includes at least public responsibility which covers bodily injury and damage to property caused to others. Only one optional extra warranty, taken out directly with the agency or with an independent insurance company, may exempt you from paying for damages caused to the rented car and its passengers. Then you only have to pay franchise except, of course, if you’ve also fully or partially redeemed it (or if you’ve used a top-of-the-range bank card such as Mastercard Gold or Visa Premier that automatically includes this insurance). This applies to any type of tenant.

To end, after all, on a small positive note: if you also have a vehicle insured in your name, in the event of a responsible accident while driving a rental car, your personal car insurance will not be affected. You have no penalty and the claim will not appear on your information statement.

how much does car rental cost

Credits: istock

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