A man kneels beside his car while talking on his cellphone, showing what to do if you’re in an accident with a rental car

Getting into a car accident is stressful enough but having an accident while you're driving a rental car can mean additional stress. What do I do first? Who should I call? What information do I need to provide to my car insurance provider and the car rental company?

If you're planning on heading out of town and want to be prepared before you rent a car, take note of these helpful tips:

  1. Always check with your licensed insurance broker to make sure you have the right car insurance endorsements on your policy before you pick up your rental car. Most car insurance companies offer additional coverage for damage to vehicles you don't own through an endorsement opens a pop-up with definition of endorsement on your current policy. Liability for damage to non-owned automobile(s) (also known as a "rental vehicle insurance endorsement") extends coverage for loss or damage to a non-owned vehicle in your care, custody, and control, so long as the loss or damage resulted from a peril you're currently insured for.

    But remember, this only applies in Canada and the United States and always review your car insurance policy with your licensed broker, as the endorsement may have different terms and limitations.

    Some rental car companies also offer a collision damage waiver, meaning they agree to cover the repair costs if you damage the rental car in an accident. While this increases your daily rental fee, it's an additional layer of coverage for potential collisions. You may also have rental insurance coverage through your credit card if you charge the full amount of the rental car to your card and decline the collision damage waiver from the rental company.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the rental car before you leave the parking lot. Fiddling with the windshield wipers, trying to connect your phone to the car's Bluetooth system, or struggling to find the headlights is distracting and puts you at greater risk of an accident. Ask the rental associate to walk you through the car's features so that by the time you hit the road, you feel as comfortable as possible.
  3. Ask your rental company for the local emergency numbers if you plan to travel out of the country. It's better to be safe than sorry and have local emergency numbers on hand, just in case anything happens while on the road with your rental car. No matter where you're driving, always do your research and know what emergency services to reach out to if need be!
  4. Remain at the scene of the accident. If you're in a car accident with your rental car, always stick around to help any other drivers involved and begin the accident reporting process.
  5. Call for emergency help if needed. If you're physically able, call local emergency services to report the accident and get help if you or someone else requires immediate medical attention because of the accident.

    Does your car insurance policy have the right coverage if you get into an accident with a rental car? Speak to your insurance broker about adding a rental vehicle insurance endorsement to your policy.

  6. Exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident. If you and the other drivers involved in the accident are physically able, exchange your driver's licence information and car insurance information, and take note of the major details of the accident, including damage to both vehicles and any injuries. This information is necessary when making a car insurance claim, and your rental car company will appreciate as much detail as possible.
  7. Report the accident to your rental car company and your insurance company. Call your rental company representative to report the accident and get more information on how you should proceed. They'll want to know all details related to the accident and will instruct you on the next steps. If the damage is minimal and the car is safe to drive, the rental company will likely tell you to continue to drive the car. But if the damage is serious and the car is unsafe or won't start, they'll arrange for a tow truck to pick up the car. Next, call your car insurance company or licensed insurance broker to report the accident and begin the claims process.

    Don't skip this step! If you get into an accident with a rental car, you must contact your car rental company and insurance provider to begin the claims process and learn the necessary next steps.

Will the accident affect my driving record?

If you're more than 25% at fault for the accident, it will count against your driving record. An at-fault accident could affect your car insurance premium, too — unless it's your first at-fault collision and you have first claim forgiveness coverage.

Before you head out on your next road trip with a rental car, reach out to your group's licensed car insurance broker to see if you have the right coverage and learn how to save on a rental vehicle before you sign the rental contract.

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