There are four key things to do immediately after an accident.
1) Get everyone to safety
After any car accident, it’s important to get yourself and anyone else out of harm’s way as quickly as possible. Just bear in mind that nhs.uk says not to move anyone if they’re in a lot of pain, or if they’ve broken their leg, or if you think they’ve injured or broken their back.
2) Contact the emergency services
Before you even set off on your travels, it’s worth making a note of the emergency numbers for every country you’re travelling through. Some countries have a different number for each of the emergency services. You might find this list on Wikipedia useful.
If you’re travelling through any of the European Union’s member state countries, it’s a fair bit easier. Just dial 112 from any mobile phone or landline, and you’ll be put directly through to the local police, ambulance or fire service. The number is free to use.
3) Exchange details and record what’s happened
With everyone safe and the emergency services on their way, the next thing to do is exchange your name and contact details with anyone else affected by the incident. This applies whether you’ve crashed into another vehicle or someone else’s property, and whether or not they were on the scene at the time of the accident.
If you hit a parked car, leave your details in a note under their windscreen wiper. If there are other people and/or vehicles involved, make sure everyone at least exchanges car registration numbers, names, addresses and telephone numbers. If possible, take photos of the scene and any damage as soon as you can, and make a note of the following:
- Colour, make and model of any vehicles involved.
- Date and time of the accident.
- Description of the weather conditions, the state of the road and any street lighting.
- Any damage done to any vehicles and property.
- Any injuries sustained by drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
4) Call the rental company
Call the rental company (their number will be on the rental agreement) and explain the situation. They should then handle recovery, repairs and replacement of the hire car if necessary, and deal with the insurance companies or anyone else involved in the accident.
Normally, rental companies won’t refund anything you’ve paid unless you cleared it with them beforehand. So if you do pay someone directly, you’re not likely to get your money back from the company.
Rental car accident tips
Dealing with a rental accident might be the last thing on your mind, when you load up the car and drive off into the sunset. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. While handling an accident in a rental car is similar to what you’d do if faced with a collision in your own vehicle. It’s important to follow the proper protocol to avoid confusion and unnecessary paperwork.
Before you do anything else, make sure that everyone in the vehicle is ok. Check the surrounding scene and any other cars involved. Someone is hurt? call (100 for police and 166 for ambulance) immediately. If there’s a danger of explosion, clear the area. Set up emergency flares if necessary or call the police to help redirect traffic. As soon as you’ve determined that the scene is safe, exchange contact and insurance information with any other parties involved and take pictures of the damage incurred. Try not to mention that you’re driving a rental car, as some people may try to take advantage of the situation. Leave the scene as soon as it is safe to do so.
So far, these are the same steps you’d take if you were driving your own vehicle. However, with a rental, you need to deal with a bit of additional paperwork. As soon as possible, call your car rental company and inform them of the accident. There’s often a sticker with an emergency number located inside the glove box. Ask the company how to proceed – but be sure to read the fine print of both your insurance plan and any insurance provided by the rental company.