Rentals cars are an invaluable service in some situations, including when an individual’s original automobile is being repaired. Unfortunately, the risk of an auto accident can rise when an individual rents a car, because the individual might be unfamiliar with handling the specific model of the rental car. This article discusses several pieces of important information for rental car drivers in Temecula. It is important that not just rental car drivers know the critical legal information regarding rental cars, but all drivers be familiar with these issues based on the mere number of rental cars in the United States. Auto Rental News reports that in 2015 there were 2,181,548 rental cars in service traveling on roads in the United States.
Tip #1 – Know That New Rental Car Rules Have Greatly Increased Safety
In early June 2016, a federal law, the Rental Car Safety Act, was passed that prohibits rental car companies from distributing vehicles that have been recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rental companies with fleets consisting of more than thirty-five vehicles must pull cars from use until the vehicles are sufficiently repaired. This law was passed due to an accident that occurred in 2004 in nearby Costa Mesa involving a recalled rental car. It is expected that this regulation will greatly increase the safety of rental car drivers by making sure that drivers are not operating recalled vehicles. In accordance with the law, companies must discontinue use of the vehicle in question within 48 hours at most of the notice.
Tip #2 – Review Other Options Before Purchasing Rental Car Insurance
Rental car drivers frequently wonder whether purchasing rental car insurance is a wise idea. Based on the individual information, rental car insurance might be a good idea, but first, an individual should follow a few simple steps:
- Check Your Own Insurance Begin by checking your own auto insurance policy to see if the coverage includes rental cars.
- Determine If Your Credit Card Provides Coverage. If your own coverage does not handle the situation, check whether your credit provides automatic coverage.
- Decide. If neither of these options is available, you likely want to consider purchasing rental car insurance.
Whatever option one ultimately chooses, one should never drive a rental car without some type of coverage. If accidents occur, the rental car driver will lack a way to effectively pay for any costs incurred by the accident.
Tip #3 – Take Steps to Reduce the Risk of Accidents While Driving the Rental Car
There are a few basic pieces of advice that a rental car driver can follow to greatly reduce the risk of an accident occurring. These steps include:
- Familiarize. Do not risk getting into an accident because you are not familiar with the vehicle. Take your time when driving the vehicle for the first time. If you feel uncomfortable with the vehicle you can read the vehicle’s manual, adjust the controls, and take the vehicle on a small test run around the rental lot. If you still feel uncomfortable with the vehicle, you can always request a new vehicle.
- Organize. Many drivers have a tendency to throw things into a rental vehicle rather than organize items because the driver knows the vehicle will only be temporarily used. When doing this, organize items at least enough to prevent anything from coming loose and sliding under the automobile’s gas or brake pedal.
- Rest. If you are traveling, make sure to rest well and get enough sleep prior to operating the rental car. Driving without proper rest can lead to car crashes.
Advice #4 – Follow Proper Protocol for Accidents Involving Rental Cars
If you are a motorist involved in an accident involving a rental car that you are driving, there are certain steps that should always be followed in the same way that a driver would respond to any automobile crash:
- Inspect. Before stepping out of your vehicle, make sure that everyone around you is okay and has not been injured during the collision. If someone in your vehicle is injured, call emergency services.
- React. Respond to the situation by taking the necessary safety measures including moving the vehicle out of the way of other vehicles if possible and contacting the authorities.
- The presence of a rental vehicle in the accident, however, means that there are certain unique steps that one should take in this situation:
- Don’t Mention. When exchanging insurance information with the other driver, refrain from stating that you are driving a rental vehicle because individuals might try to manipulate you based on this piece of information.
- Call the Rental Company. As soon as you can safely do so, contact the rental car company that provided your vehicle and notify the company of the accident. Often times, rental companies provide this contact information within the glovebox or other easily accessible part of the vehicle.
- Contact the Insurance Provider. If you have opted to use your own insurance coverage to provide insurance for the rental vehicle, contact this provider as well. Or, if your credit card company is providing insurance to cover the situation then contact this company. Remember that even if you have gone with another company to provide insurance, you must still contact the rental company because the company is the owner of the rental vehicle.
Be aware if you are a driver of a rental car that automobile crashes involving rental cars can carry severely negative consequences. Because many car rental companies carry only small liability policies, in severe accidents that result in substantial injuries the victim’s injuries are likely to exceed the liability policy’s limit. If neither the rental car company’s insurance policy nor the rental car driver’s personal policy covers the expense of injuries to the victim, then the victim is likely to pursue a lawsuit against the rental car driver.
If you have been in an auto accident involving a rental car or the other driver was driving a rental car, do not hesitate to call our skilled car accident attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers as soon as possible for a free consultation to discuss your case.