What To Do After a Rental Car Accident (2024)

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 5 mins

Dealing with a rental car accident is the last thing you want to experience on a vacation. With over 6 million car accidents on US roads every year, it is unfortunately a very real possibility.

In this article, we walk through what to do after a rental car crash and explain the types of insurance that can cover you should an accident happen.

Steps To Take After a Rental Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident in a rental car, these are the steps you need to take:

  • Address safety first. Determine whether anyone is injured and pull off of the road if it is safe to do so. Call 911 if emergency medical care is needed for you or anyone else.
  • File a police report. This can be done at the time of the accident if police come to the scene. If not, a report can be made after the fact by calling local law enforcement. Avoid making statements about fault for the accident to police or anyone else at this time as it could be used against you later.
  • Collect contact information. Exchange contact details, vehicle information, and insurance details with all other drivers involved. If there are witnesses to the accident, collect their contact information as well.
  • Take photos. Document injuries, the state of all vehicles involved, vehicle license plates, and any other details that could explain what caused the accident.
  • Contact the rental car company. A contact number can usually be found on your rental paperwork or on the company website. For example, Enterprise asks that you file a police report and then call their roadside assistance hotline.
  • Contact your insurance company. If you will be asking your personal car insurance to provide coverage, then you need to contact them to notify them of the accident and open a claim.
  • Contact a rental car accident lawyer. It can be worthwhile to get an attorney for a car accident. A lawyer can help protect your rights and make sure you are fairly compensated for the accident - especially if someone else caused the accident. Fill out the form on this page to get started today.

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Understanding Rental Car Insurance

Rental car damage can be covered under insurance through numerous routes. These are the most common types of rental car insurance and where you find them.

Coverage Under Your Auto Insurance Policy

If you already have US-based car insurance, then your policy may include some or all of the following coverage:

  • Collision insurance. This covers vehicle damage after you pay your deductible. For example, if your policy has a $500 deductible and the accident caused $3,000 in vehicle damage, then you pay $500 and your insurance pays for the remaining $2,500. It is common for collision insurance to apply to rental cars in the same way it does for your personal car.
  • Liability insurance. This type of insurance covers property damage and medical expenses your accident caused for others. It applies when you are driving a rental car in most circumstances.
  • Medical payments coverage. This provides some coverage for medical expenses incurred by you or your passengers. It is often optional coverage on car insurance policies.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP). Some states require PIP insurance to cover medical bills and other associated expenses for you. It may also cover your passengers. PIP insurance covers you no matter who was at fault for the accident. It is sometimes called no-fault insurance after the state laws that first made it a requirement.

Make sure you understand your insurance policy’s coverage before renting a car. Doing so will ensure you know up front whether additional coverage is needed for your rental.

Coverage Under a Credit Card

Certain credit cards offer rental car insurance when you use the card to pay for the entire rental car cost. Be sure to check the coverage details carefully before relying on a credit card as it often has many limitations and exclusions.

Insurance From The Rental Car Company

Most rental car companies will offer you their own insurance coverage plans. These often combine different types of coverage, which may include:

  • Collision damage waiver (CDW). A CDW, sometimes called a loss damage waiver, covers you if the rental car is damaged or stolen. It may also include coverage for other rental car company charges for their loss of the rental car during repairs.
  • Supplemental liability. This insurance provides additional coverage after your personal car insurance liability coverage has hit its maximum. As with liability insurance under your personal car insurance, it covers property damage and injuries sustained by other people.
  • Personal effects coverage. This insurance covers up to a set dollar amount to compensate you for personal property stolen from the rental car.
  • Personal accident insurance. Personal accident coverage reimburses you for medical expenses for yourself and your passengers. You may already have similar coverage in your personal car insurance or through your health or life insurance policies.

Rental car insurance through the rental company can provide comprehensive coverage, but it can still be difficult to navigate after an accident. If you need help getting the most out of your claim, fill out the form on this page to connect with a rental car accident lawyer in your area.

The Other Driver’s Insurance

If you were in a car accident that was not your fault, the other driver may be responsible for compensating you. Often, you will need to pay the rental car company for damages and then seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company.

Insurance companies do not make it easy for you to receive quick or full compensation. Hiring a lawyer who is familiar with insurance claims gives you an advocate who can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you are treated fairly. Fill out the form on this page to get started today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you have collision coverage through your own car insurance or through the rental car company, then you will likely need to pay your deductible before the insurance company covers the rest. It is also possible that you will need to pay for damage that is excluded from the insurance coverage. Read your policy closely and consult with a lawyer if you believe you have been improperly denied coverage.

  • If you’re wondering what happens if you damage a rental car, your first step should be checking whether you have insurance coverage. Even if you did not buy additional coverage from a rental car company, you may have coverage under your personal car insurance policy or through the credit card you used to pay for the rental car.

    If the damage to your rental car was caused by another driver, then they may be responsible for compensating you. Consult with a lawyer to explore your options.

  • If you were present when the car was damaged, then exchange information with the driver responsible as their insurance should pay for the damage. If you discover your car was damaged while it was parked and don’t know who caused it, then you will have to cover it. Collision insurance through your personal car insurance or purchased from the rental company often covers this type of damage.

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