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Road TripsIf You Are in a Rental Car AccidentWhether you're in a minor fender-bender or a major accident, first things first: make sure everyone's okay! Call 9-1-1 if there are injuries.Renting a CarWe've talked with rental car agencies, car insurance agents, people who rent cars—and rented a few cars ourselves—to prepare this handy guide to help you through the rental car process.

If You Are in a Rental Car Accident

Whether you're in a minor fender-bender or a major accident, first things first: make sure everyone's okay! Call 9-1-1 if there are injuries.

For the next steps, here are top tips from insurance agents and fellow Americans with past rental car accident experience with words of advice on how to document the damage:

Call the Local Police or Law Enforcement Agency

  • You may need to file a copy of the police report for insurance purposes. The rental car company might need one as well.
  • Keep in mind that you will be held liable and responsible for any traffic violations that occurred.

Call the Rental Car Company

  • Check in the glove compartment for the rental car company's contact information and have your account information ready.

Don't have their info or can't get to it? Here's a list of major rental car company roadside assistance contact numbers:
- Alamo: 1-800-803-4444
- Avis: 1-800-354-2847
- Budget: 1-800-354-2847
- Enterprise: 1-800-307-6666
- Thrifty: 1-877-435-7650

Questions to ask the rental car company:

  • What do you need me to do to document the damage?
  • How would you like it documented: Photos? Written? Both?
  • What information do you need? (date, time, etc.)
  • When and how will I get a replacement car?
  • What will be the cost for both the crashed car and the replacement car?
  • If I need other assistance — hotel, for example — can you provide it?

Call Your Insurance Agent

  • Read our Accidents section for tips on filing an insurance claim with your agent. They will be well-versed in dealing with the rental car company.

WHN Tip: Contact your credit card company. You may have rental car insurance coverage.

Document the Damage

  • Even if you don't have insurance, you should take pictures because it may help the process with the rental car company.
  • Click here for post-accident tips from drivers and law enforcement officials on how to document damage and other important information.

Arrange for a Tow and/or Repair Estimates if Necessary

  • Get the location and name of the towing company and/or the body shop.
  • Ask about the towing and storage fees. You may be held accountable for them if your auto insurance policy doesn't cover it.
  • before the car is towed, remove all your personal belongings. Check the visor, glove, dash and other compartments, roof rack and trunk.

WHN Reader Tip: Tow Trouble
"Eight days after the accident, I received a call from the rental company asking me where the car was. They demanded that I pay the full daily rate of the rental for the 8 days that the car sat in the lot. I'd recommend that anyone who is in this situation be very clear with the rental car company about the exact location of the car after it is towed, and to watch your credit card statement for daily charges for days after the accident." Mike, Boston, MA

  • Get several repair estimates.

WHN Reader Tip: Estimates
"
When in LA, I was at a Hollywood party. When I left, I ran into Britt Eklund's Mercedes and I was driving a tin can Renault. I got three estimates, made copies, turned them into my insurance company, and with the smashed rental, ended up only paying the deductible of $100." Robin, Palo Alto, CA

Keep Copies of ALL Receipts

  • Hotels, restaurants, gas, repairs, anything related to the accident. They may be covered under your own car insurance policy.

WHN Expert Tip: "If the vehicle needs repair work, your auto insurance may not pay for rental agency expenses, such as loss of rental income while the auto is out of service, or other 'incidental' items such as towing, storage, and administrative costs that the rental company may incur." April Williams, MetLife Auto and Home

Bottom Line: Document the damage like you would if was your own car. You never know what you might be held responsible for!

Road TripsIf You Are in a Rental Car Accident

Whether you're in a minor fender-bender or a major accident, first things first: make sure everyone's okay! Call 9-1-1 if there are injuries.

 Read More
Renting a Car

We've talked with rental car agencies, car insurance agents, people who rent cars—and rented a few cars ourselves—to prepare this handy guide to help you through the rental car process.

 Read More