What to do if you have an accident in a rental car

4 steps to follow if you get in an accident in a rental car

Had an accident in a rental car while in Australia? Here’s what to do.

Step 1: Determine whether you need emergency services

If someone is seriously injured you should call an ambulance immediately.

You should also call the police if:

  • Someone is trapped.
  • A car is blocking the road and police need to direct traffic.
  • Any of the drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or refuse to provide their details.

Step 2: Assess whether you can move the car

If it’s safe and possible to do so, move the car off the road and out of harm’s way.

Step 3: Record the information

Take the other driver’s name, address, contact number and insurance details, and provide yours as applicable.

If possible you should also get the contact details of any witnesses to the accident.

Record the accident in as much detail as you are able, including the time and place, the damage caused and anything else that’s relevant.

It’s also a good idea to take photos of the damage and accident scene.

Step 4: Contact the rental car company

Call the rental car company and let it know what happened. Typically it should be able to let you know what the next steps are.

Depending on the situation and crash severity this might be waiting for a tow truck, driving the car somewhere nearby for emergency repairs, or waiting for a company representative to come to the accident site.

How can I avoid paying the rental car excess?

To help protect yourself from a rental car excess, you have rental car excess insurance. This is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re renting a car, and can’t afford to run the risk of paying thousands of dollars in the event of an accident, then it might be worth considering.

Protect you and your rental car. Compare car rental excess insurance

Details Features
Car Hire Excess Cover
Car Hire Excess Cover
Cover for eligible drivers from 21-71 years of age. Cover starting from $9.86 per day (7 day+ hire).
  • Car rental excess from $4,000 up to $8,000
  • Vehicle return cover up to $500
  • Cover for drivers in Australia and overseas
Get Quote More info
Car Rental Excess Cover
Car Rental Excess Cover
Covers all eligible drivers listed with rental company. International drivers welcome. Cover starting from $5.69 per day (hires over 15 days).
  • Car rental excess up to $4,000 or $6,000 covered
  • Luggage and personal effects covered up to $1,500
  • No distance restriction from main residence
Get Quote More info
Car Rental Excess Cover
Car Rental Excess Cover
Guaranteed to be at least 50% cheaper than rental desk policies. Full cover starts from $6.00 a day (7 day hire).
  • Complete vehicle cover for up to $100,000 in damages. (with absolutely no exclusions)
  • $0 excess on all policies (plus no claim fees)
  • Covers all vehicle types, including motorhome, 4x4, courtesy, replacement car hire
  • Can be used with ANY rental car company
Get Quote More info
rental car on a highway

Who pays for the damage?

Typically, the rental company’s insurance will cover the damage to the car, but you will need to pay the “rental car excess”. This is the amount you need to put towards repairs in the event of an accident. It will typically be a sizable amount, running into thousands of dollars.

Your rental car excess should be mentioned in your rental agreement.

What if the excess is less than the cost of the damage?

The excess is the maximum you should be paying, regardless of how much damage there was to the vehicle.

What if the excess is more than the cost of the damage?

If the car’s damage costs less than your rental car excess, you may still need to pay the full amount. Typically, you will be able to get the extra amount refunded.

For example, if your excess is $2,000 and the damage costs $500 to repair, you will pay the full $2,000, and then get $500 refunded later.

You may need to actively seek a refund. If you’re not refunded as due, then you may be able to seek a chargeback from your bank or credit card provider.

What if I’m paying too much, or the rental company isn’t refunding the excess?

For example, if you’re paying several thousand dollars in a rental car excess for a small amount of damage, or the rental company refuses to reimburse your remainder.

It depends on the situation, but the best course of action might be to get your own quotes for the repairs, for a sense of whether or not you might be getting cheated, or get charges reversed by your bank.
Picture: Shutterstock


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Andrew Munro

Andrew writes for finder.com, comparing products, writing guides and looking for new ways to help people make smart decisions. He's a fan of insurance, business news and cryptocurrency.

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