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Rental Cars and Collisions: What You Need to Know

Dashboard and front seats of a car

Vacation season is here in Central Florida. Spring break is hitting schools throughout the state, and between now and early June, many schools will be wrapping up the 2015-2016 school year.

What does that mean for the average family? VACATION!

For some families, vacations mean rental cars. Whether it is for luggage space, mileage on their own personal vehicle, or simply wanting something a little more “fun” and different, many people opt to take a rental vehicle on long road trips when it’s time for a getaway. However, what many people don’t prepare for is getting into an accident while driving a rental vehicle.

In some ways, an accident in a rental car is no different than if you were to get into an accident in your own car, in regards to the steps you need to take immediately following the collision. You always need to check on people in your vehicle, call any needed emergency personnel (including the police), take photos of the accident scene, damages to the vehicle, and any injuries, etc.

Following the initial reactions after an accident though, there are some pretty big differences with how you’ll need to handle the paperwork and insurance portion of the accident. While this is a case-by-case type of circumstance, there are a few general things to keep in mind if you get into an accident while driving a rental car…

  •  Call the emergency number provided for the rental car company. This is usually on a sticker in the glove box, on the windshield, etc. When you contact them, you need to ask, in detail, how you should proceed. Always read the fine print on all paperwork provided for the rental, as well as on any insurance policies held by you and the rental company.
  • Contact your own insurance company and inquire about the details of your policy and how it relates to a rental vehicle. For example, does your policy include collision and comprehensive coverage in addition to the legally required liability coverage? This type of policy protects the car you are renting, so you will often be covered to a certain extent, once you have paid off your deductible.
  • If your deductible is not low enough, many rental companies require that you purchase an additional insurance policy through them for the time while you are using the vehicle. Make sure you read all fine print on these policies and are familiar with what is/is not covered.
  • Depending on the details of your insurance policy, restrictions could mean more money out of your pocket. Loss of use, for example, means you will still owe rental fees to the company while the car is out of commission. In other words, if it takes seven days to repair the damage to the car, you will be responsible for paying seven additional days of rental fees to the car company.

Of course, there are many additional waivers, and other “add-on” policies that are available when renting a vehicle. Like we mentioned above, always read the fine print, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s best to be informed and prepared, so if the unexpected does happen, you aren’t caught off guard and left making mistakes that could cost you money in the long run.

If you have been in an accident, whether in your own vehicle or a rental car, it can be tough to navigate the waters of insurance companies, liability, and more. If you have questions about your legal standing in the case of a car accident, or if you need legal representation here in the greater Lakeland area, give us a call! Sessums Law Group is proud to serve Central Florida with knowledgeable and personal service.

Remember, when the unexpected happens, at Sessums Law Group, we stand for YOU!

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