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I had an accident in the rental car: my experience

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There are often questions about how to handle the insurance portion while renting a car in Europe. I had a minor accident while in Provence and thought I'd share my experience for others - a what to expect, if you will.

I went with 2 friends to Provence for a week. Since I was the one who could drive a stick-shift, and had traveled to this area previously, I was the designated driver. I called Autoeurope to reserve the car, they used Hertz for this location (the Avignon train station).

I planned to use my MasterCard for the rental. I called MC to see what was covered. They covered collision damage waiver, physical damage to the vehicle only, stolen vehicle, fire, liability. The only thing they didn't cover was the personal accident insurance. I checked with Autoeurope to cover the pai - at 9 euros per day. I took the pai.

When I picked up the car, I turned down all the Hertz offers of insurance, except the pai.

While in Provence, we enjoyed several markets in small villages. We left one village after shopping on a narrow, windy road high up in the hills. I thought I was headed back to our B&B. I realized I was going the wrong direction. There was a very small area to pull off the road, which I took, to study the map. Yes, I needed to turn around. Because of the narrow field of vision, I needed to back up quickly to turn around. I plowed into a large tree behind me. The back of the car had a nice-sized dent. No one was hurt. We returned to the B&B. I called the Autoeurope toll free #. They made a note of the accident. I called the local Hertz, where I'd picked up the rental. They asked a few questions (was I able to drive the car). I called MasterCard. They had many specific questions, some of which I could answer and some of which I couldn't. (where exactly did the accident take place, information about my auto coverage in the states, etc.) This conversation lasted about 45 minutes. They were very polite and thorough.

My friend took a few pictures of the damage as well as the license plate and identification number of the car. I had a list of the paperwork needed for MasterCard, which a gathered up (rental agreement with Autoeurope and Hertz) to put in a safe place. When I returned the car to Europcar at the end of the trip, the agent looked at the accident and filled out more paperwork, a fairly short amount of time was spent.

After returning home, I received in the mail, a bill from Hertz of @ 800 euros for repairs to the damaged car as well as loss of days rental income. I began correspondence with MasterCard via email. MC wanted our auto insurance coverage information from here in the states so a call was in order to them to procure that information. I faxed all paperwork, photos, etc.. The only piece of information that kept cropping up that I didn't have was a police report. Since no one was injured or another vehicle damaged, it never dawned on me to file a police report. At this point, MasterCard took over the claim with Hertz keeping me in the loop constantly via email of what was & wasn't completed. MC wanted a fleet utilization log from Europcar regarding payment of the loss of rental income. Hertz never produced one so MC eventually paid off everything but that and the case was closed.

The experience was very easy to handle, everyone from Autoeurope, Hertz, Mastercard was polite and helpful. The only thing I would do differently is to find out the number of the local police to call, in the event of an actual emergency - what their equivalent of a 911 call would be...

I hope this helps others with car rentals and insurance questions.

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