Automobile rentals make up a big industry. Lots of people rely on them for business transportation and personal travel every year. The process is relatively simple and easy most of the time. Just like with a car you own, however, things get a lot more complicated when something goes wrong. If your vehicle breaks down, is stolen or anything else happens to it, the fact that it’s a rental can add an extra layer of stress and uncertainty to the whole process.
If you’re in an accident or something else happens to your rental car, you might not know what to do at first. The most important thing is to stay calm and approach things logically. Rental companies and insurance providers are used to dealing with these sorts of things, so you don’t have to panic. Your first priorities should be the same as if the car were your own. Make sure you and your passengers are safe and exchange information with other drivers if you were in a collision. Take pictures and document the situation as well as you can.
Go to the Rental Company First
Maybe you’ve totaled a rental car, or you just have a flat tire. Perhaps the car has been broken into or outright stolen. Whatever has happened, you are still a customer of the rental car company. You should contact them and let them know what has happened. Most companies will give you a specific emergency number to call in such situations. They’ll help you figure out the next steps and may even come to pick you up and provide a new vehicle.
Getting into an accident with a rental car doesn’t have to derail your vacation or business trip. The rental company should act quickly to get you back on your way. With so many cars on the road and so many accidents every year, rental car companies are used to dealing with such problems and won’t be shocked by whatever has happened.
The problems come in when it’s time to assign fault for the problems with the car. If the tires went flat on their own or the check engine light comes on without any clear reason or cause, the car company may just switch the car out for you with no cost or fuss. If something else happened to the car, whether it was stolen or damaged in a crash, you will most likely be held responsible for the situation. That’s why it’s important to be sure you have proper insurance for driving a rental car.
“When you drive a rental car, you take on all legal liability for that vehicle,” says Jason Chalik, a car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale. “Double-check to be sure you’re covered before you take a risk and get out on the road in a rental.” Rental companies offer extra insurance with rentals, but those might not be necessary depending on the situation. Your personal insurance may or may not fully cover rental repairs, and your credit card might also provide some level of insurance.