Rental car accident: What to do after a crash

Crashing the fancy car you rented on your business trip, to the point it that looks like a piece of crumpled paper, might be right on top of your “Fear Factor top 10” list. Since you cannot always prevent your worst fear from becoming a reality, you have to be prepared at all cost when you’re in a rental car accident.

When steam is bubbling from the bonnet and your head is pounding, you feel out of control and jittery, no matter how major or minor the accident. Before you become panic-stricken, it is important to take a deep breath and relax.

An accident in a rental car when in South Africa: You need an action plan

Since how you react in the aftermath of a collision can save your life, you should take the following essential steps right after the accident with your rental car to take control of the situation. Also, there are various steps to take before you make a claim on your car insurance policy.

1. Call the police as soon as possible after a rental car accident

The police should be called no matter how small the accident, especially if repairs are going to be needed. The police report will also help the insurance companies determine who is responsible for paying and make the whole process a lot easier.

A full report must be made of the whole rental car accident to the nearest police station within 24 hours and case number obtained.

2. Get these items out of you glove compartment and boot

Take note that the following items have to be in your rental car before you leave the depot to take on the long road.

  • Warning triangles or emergency flares (if you are passing the border) should be kept in the trunk. According to Arrive Alive, a reflective emergency warning triangle sign for motorists is now a compulsory article in cars.
  • Pen and paper to take notes of the auto rental in the accident.
  • A disposable camera if your phone can’t take pictures to take photos of the damage.
  • A card with information containing all medical conditions such as allergies, and serious injuries you have so that medical personnel can keep this in mind.

3. Check for injuries and call the ambulance when in doubt

Make sure nobody, including you, is hurt. Check all the passengers in your vehicle for any injuries, scratches, bruises or disorientation.

4. Move vehicle out of the way if car rental accident is minor

Leaving cars parked in the middle of the road or busy intersection is a great hazard to other road users. If a car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain in the cars with seat-belts fastened for everyone’s safety until help arrives after the car rental accident.

5. Turn on your rental car’s hazard lights and use cones, warning triangles or flares for safety

Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning triangles if possible.

6. Notify your insurance agent within 24 hours

Remember to make a note of the particulars of any other parties involved in the accident. If immediate repairs are necessary, please get authorisation from your rental supplier beforehand. An accident and theft report must be completed within 24 hours of either incident occurring. These are obtainable from any rental branch.

7. Document the damage of the accident in a rental car

Take photos and document the damage of both the vehicles. Do not sign any document unless it’s for the police or your insurance agent. Make notes about every aspect of the accident, including specific damages to all the vehicles. Look for possible witnesses of the accident. They might serve as crucial role players in the end.

8. The moment when help arrives…

State only the facts, and limit your discussion of the accident to the police and your insurance agent. Do not accuse anyone (even if it’s not your fault)

9. Think before you tow your rental

If your vehicle requires towing, you will have to pay for it. Note, however, that this needs to be done by a registered supplier. Find a list of all emergency contacts in the glove box of your car rental.

10. And remember…

There are insurance claims and insurance notifications. The latter is when you do notify your insurance company about the accident but do not claim repairs on your car. Depending on how high your insurance excess is, you might save a lot of money and no-claim years if you pay for the repairs. Example: replacing something at a local garage instead of claiming for it on insurance might save you a lot of money. But please do notify your insurance company about the accident anyway!

Factors that cancel out waivers when in an accident with your rental car

  • Gross negligence. If you are reckless on the road and do not consider fellow road users, you instantly lose your insurance rights.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Unauthorised persons driving the vehicle.
  • Unauthorised cross border rentals. Make sure that you have the authority to take your rental car across the border.
  • Not adhering to traffic, road and driving regulations.
  • Unsuitable driving or road conditions.
  • Not reporting the collision to the rental supplier and the nearest police station.
  • Failure to get authorisation to extend the pre-booked rental period.
  • Failure in reporting the loss or theft within 3 hours in the event of theft unless exceptional circumstances apply.
  • Failure to produce the vehicle keys in case of theft unless exceptional circumstances apply.
  • Not reporting the exact details of the last known location of the vehicle prior to theft.

Stay road-savvy and keep the above-mentioned points in mind in the unfortunate event of a rental car accident.

If you would like to have the freedom to explore the area you are visiting independently, you might want to look into car hire South Africa for the perfect set of wheels.

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