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What happens if you have an accident with a rental car?

4 minute read

Motor vehicle accident

Car rental is big business in Australia, which means there are far more rental cars on the roads. Unfortunately accidents are a common occurence on Australian roads. Do you know what happens if you have an accident with a rental car?

What happens when a rental car hits you?

If you have a collision with someone who is legally driving a rental car, they should have at least some basic car insurance.

Any damage that your car receives should be covered by the rental car’s insurance policy. If you are at fault, your car insurance will cover damage of the rental car, or if you are uninsured the rental company’s insurance will attempt to recoup the repair costs from you.

All vehicles in Australia are covered by compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, which may cover injuries that occur to any of the people involved in the accident.

If you follow these steps, it can make an unpleasant experience a little easier down the track:

  • Firstly, as in any motor vehicle accident, ascertain if everyone is safe or if anyone requires medical assistance. Calling 000 immediately is vital if there are any seriously injured passengers.

  • Once you are sure that everyone is safe, exchange details with the other driver. This includes: Driver’s full name and contact details. Full name and contact details of who the vehicle is rented to (if different to the driver). Insurance details, this can include the rental car insurance, travel insurance, etc. The name and details of the car rental company.

  • If you’re able to, take some photos of the scene and the damage that has occurred. Take notes about what has happened so you can refer to it later if needed, this includes what the weather was like, how the accident occurred, etc. Take the name and details of any witnesses.

  • Make a police report. In South Australia and Western Australia, you will need to make a police report within 24 hours if there is damage in excess of $3000. For the other states, you generally will need to make a police report within 24 hours if:

    • A person was killed or injured

    • A driver did not stop and give their details to the other driver(s)

    • A vehicle was towed away after the accident

    • The owner of any damaged property is not present

  • Contact your insurer. In most cases, your insurer will handle everything from this point onwards regarding vehicle damage.

  • If you have been injured in the accident you may be entitled to compensation to cover your medical fees and/or loss of income if you’re unable to work. It’s important to get legal advice as soon as you can as there are time limits that apply to when you can seek compensation.

Help! I crashed my rental car

As already mentioned most rental cars will have basic insurance to cover damage to the car and they will all have CTP insurance to cover for any injuries. If you have an accident you should follow the same steps but there are a couple of additional things you will need to do.

  • Before you hire the car, it’s important to look at what type of excess you will be charged if you have an accident. Most rental companies charge a high excess no matter who is at fault. You may be able to pay a fee to reduce the excess. In some instances, travel insurance or credit card insurance (if you used the card to hire the car) may cover the excess.

  • Make sure to check if there are any exclusions or actions that breach your rental agreement. Car companies often won’t allow unauthorised drivers or driving off road, etc. If you breach any of their conditions you may be liable for all the damage and related costs.

  • After an accident, you must contact the car rental company as soon as you safely can and inform them of what has happened. They will be able to recover and replace the car for you in most instances.

Contact Shine Lawyers

It can be confusing to know what to do when you’ve been involved in an accident with a rental car, but if you believe you’ve sustained an injury for which you should receive compensation, Shine Lawyers are here to help. Our lawyers are experts in motor vehicle accident law and work on a no win, no fee basis. Contact us today for an obligation-free chat about your situation.

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