Car accident in a rental car -- legal obligations?
August 17, 2016 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I was involved in a minor car accident while driving a rental car. What do I need to do now?

Luckily no one was hurt (though there seemed to be damage to both vehicles). And I purchased all of the extra insurance and liability coverage options at checkout.

Now I am being contacted by third parties (eg, claims adjustment/management) requesting a written/recorded accident statement.

Am I obliged to do this? The communication seems very official but did not come from the rental car company, but from a company that provides services for them.
posted by shotgunbooty to Law & Government (6 answers total)
They need your statement to proceed with processing the insurance. (you probably agreed to cooperate somewhere in the small print.) Since you had the insurance with the rental car company, you should not have any liability. When I had a fender bender in my own car, the insurance company did a formal recorded interview with me over the phone. Just asked questions about what happened. I tried to be brief and accurate, keeping to the facts while being careful not to hint at any negligence on my part. They then went away, did their thing with the other's driver's insurance. Similar thing for my husband, he was at fault but it was very straight forward.
posted by metahawk at 9:54 AM on August 17, 2016

Am I obliged to do this?

Almost certainly by the terms of the insurance that you purchased. The rental companies don't generally do their own insurance, so you're going to have to work with whatever third parties they contract it to.

You could not work with them, but then you're likely to be sued by both the rental company or their insurance company and the other person, as you'd effectively be uninsured.
posted by Candleman at 9:56 AM on August 17, 2016

Yup, definitely fill out the report. You are most likely not going to owe anything, and the rental companies are VERY VERY used to dealing with minor accidents.
posted by xingcat at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2016

Adjuster here. Compliance with assisting the insurer / adjuster in processing your claim is part of the conditions of the insurance contract. They are on your side, as your insurer/adjuster, but they do need to know what happened from your point of view in case the other party comes out saying something different, claiming all sorts of injuries and extra damages - the insurer is on the hook to pay after all. Could even be that they identify the other party as the responsible one, in which case they can recover the damages from the other party. The insurer/adjuster needs your statement to do this.

As you bought all the liability and insurance coverage, and it doesn't sound like the accident was serious (like criminal charges pending serious), really you have no reason to be concerned that somehow this is going to come back on you.

But if you don't comply with the terms of the contract (i.e. cooperate by providing your statement), then they aren't obliged to fulfill their end of the bargain and you CAN be held responsible for the costs, even though you paid for the insurance. Going down this road is a whole other askme though.
posted by lizbunny at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

As an aside, some credit cards (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred) offer primary car insurance for rental cars. Just pay with the card, decline rental insurance with the renting company, and then file a claim with Chase and they'll take care of it. A bunch of cards offer secondary insurance but require you to go through your insurance first.
posted by masters2010 at 7:50 PM on August 17, 2016

Heads up... credit card "car insurance" is often very limited. It covers no liability at all for injury. It often only covers damage to your car. It has very low limits. And it requires you to claim against any other insurance you may have (your primary personal auto policy usually). Relying on it and thinking "oh I have insurance" when you rent has burned people badly. Some extra cost programs offer more coverage or primary coverage (such as Amex, which costs $20 per rental). Still no liability for injury or much for other people's property damages though. Hit a Mercedes or a Porsche just right or send someone to a hospital and you're in trouble.

If you don't have rental coverage on a personal car policy, what you should really focus on buying at the rental counter is the company's supplemental *liability* coverage, not often part of the "Collision Waiver" package.

Your really major risk in any accident is hurting or killing someone. Cars are cheap compared to hospitals and CT scans and specialty doctors. Oh and rental companies tend to carry either bare minimum liability (which is rarely close to adequate for a serious collision with injuries) or in some states one at all and that is all on you.

But in this case yes, comply and feel pretty safe. Be sure the policy you bought does cover the other person's car. And hope it wasn't a Maserati.
posted by spitbull at 9:17 PM on May 15, 2017

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