Rental Car Accidents

My wife is an excellent driver.  I the ten years I’ve known her, she’s never been in an accident.  She did manage to dent the door to the refrigerator in the garage once, and she accidentally pulled out into the driveway a little “too close” to her mom’s car (they traded some paint), but I’m happy to say that with over 120,000 miles on her car, she has a squeaky clean record!  Recently on a business trip to Boston, she walked out of the building to discover that someone had run into the back of her rental car.  To say that she was “disappointed” would be a rather large understatement.

Now what do you do?  In my entire traveling career, I’ve never known anyone to accept the renter’s insurance on a rental car.  In most cases, your company requires you to decline the insurance.  You may not know it, but most major credit cards cover you as well (I know AMX does).  The question still remains, “What’s the first thing to do when you’re involved in accident with your rental car?”  Here’s my advice:

  1.  <!–[if !supportLists]–> <!–[endif]–>Assess the damage.  If someone dented you and drove away, there’s no reason to call the police and to have a report filed.  If you’re involved in a fender bender with another individual, call the police immediately and have a report filed.  If there is an injured party, call 911 and get an ambulance as quickly as you can.
  2. <!–[if !supportLists]–> <!–[endif]–>Call your boss.  You’ll want to find out what kind of corporate insurance coverage you have as quickly as possible.  Your company sent you, and they paid for your car, it is your company’s insurance that should handle any damages.  They’ll work things out with the rental car agency after you return home.
  3. <!–[if !supportLists]–><!–[endif]–>Call your travel agent, or the person/agency who booked your trip.  They may have the insurance information you need, if your boss doesn’t.
  4. <!–[if !supportLists]–> <!–[endif]–>Do NOT call the rental agency (unless the accident is severe enough that you would need a replacement car).  They’ll find out soon enough, when it’s time to turn in the car.  When you do turn it in, tell them what happened, and give them the police report if one was filed.
  5. <!–[if !supportLists]–> <!–[endif]–>Do NOT give the agency your personal insurance information!  Don’t do it!  It will be the first thing they ask for, and it should be the one thing you refuse to give them, unless you want the accident counted against your personal insurance.  In my wife’s case, why should it count against her that some yahoo ran into her rental car while she was in a meeting?  Give them your corporate insurance information, and give them your corporate credit card number (with your boss’s permission) to cover any minor damages.

In my wife’s case, she gave them her corporate credit card and told the agency to use it to cover the damages, and to send an itemized receipt to her corporate address.  The agency said it would take them a few weeks to get an estimate, etc.  During that time, her office is contacting their insurance agency to handle the situation.

EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send him a “Tweet” on his twitter account.  You can also follow Ken on Twitter @foodbreeze!