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What happens if you crash the rental car?

Summer’s not quite over yet. Tourists are still taking advantage of the great hikes, climbs and trails the Gore Range of the Colorado Rockies has to offer.

Many tourists make the trek from Denver to Dillon by rental car. If you’re one of them, you’re maybe wondering what happens if you get into a car accident on vacation?

What to do immediately after the accident

The recovery process for a rental car accident isn’t all that different from a standard car accident. You’ll want to be sure that everyone is safe and uninjured before calling the authorities to report the accident. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. Take notes on the damage, or photos if you have a smartphone. Don’t admit fault or make accusations while waiting for the police and the tow truck.

After the aftermath has been cleared, you’ll also need to contact the rental company as soon as possible. Most rental cars stash an emergency number in the glove box or center console. It may also be in your rental agreement or receipt.

Your recovery options

Unlike most states, Colorado operates on a tort system when it comes to car accidents. This means that the party deemed most at-fault for an accident can be held financially responsible for any injuries or property damage in a crash.

If you’re in a rental car, though, you may wonder how to go about pursuing an injury claim or claim for property damages. In general, you have four options:

  • The other guy’s insurance – Obviously, if the other driver is found to be at fault, his or her insurance should cover your expenses. You may need to work with a local attorney, though, to pursue this kind of claim.
  • The rental company’s insurance – If you purchased the rental company’s collision insurance or personal injury policy, then you may be able to seek compensation from this policy if the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages. It should also cover damage to the rental car.
  • Your own car insurance – If you have collision and comprehensive coverage policies through your own insurance, these policies should cover accidents in a rental car. Check your specific policy to make sure.
  • Your credit card company – You may have heard that some credit card companies offer “extra insurance” policies for rental cars if you use that credit card to make your reservation. Whether or not such policies apply will depend on the fine print of your credit agreement, so read it carefully before pursuing this option.

What about the damaged rental car?

As mentioned above, if you purchased extra insurance or the collision protection offered by the rental company, you may be in the clear in terms of getting repairs or a replacement vehicle.

If you didn’t, however, your insurance company may be on the hook for repairing or replacing the vehicle, which may mean paying your deductible. Note that this applies even if you weren’t at fault for the accident. If you were deemed not at fault, your insurance company may then go after the at-fault party to recoup those expenses.