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I had an accident in the rental car: my experience

I had an accident in the rental car: my experience

Apr 8th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,190
I had an accident in the rental car: my experience

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.
dorkforcemom is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 09:37 AM
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excellent report, I think it will be very useful to lots of folks. Glad no one was hurt.
Christina is online now  
Apr 8th, 2011, 09:40 AM
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Good to know, thanks for sharing! Valuable info
GreenDragon is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 09:57 AM
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Good to know, but I knew how it goes already, since I have been renting cars in France for more than 30 years, with a few incidents along the way. I have had the deductible deducted from my account more than once and replaced a couple of weeks later.
kerouac is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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Thanks for posting this. One other thing to check before you go is the maximum value of the vehicle your credit card company will insure and if there are any vehicle restrictions (mini vans, trucks, etc) When we were in Namibia Hertz wanted to upgrade us but I knew the vehicle wouldn't be covered.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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One of the items on your check out checklist when picking up a rental is to confirm that a blank Constat or police report form is in the glove box. Usually it is there, one side in French, the other side in English. In the event of any accident, the Constat should be completed and filed at the nearest police station or Préfecture de Police. Having an official document to present to the insurance people will greatly help in their understanding of the scope of the accident, the total damage expected, and the potential claim some unmentioned third party might present.

It´s also important to have a pencil or pen (to fill out the Constat) and a camera to provide pictures a additional supporting documentation. Of course most tourists have a camera with them. If the accident is not your fault, having the Préfecture issue une déclaration de main courrante will legally absolve you of any liability, very useful to help settle claims.

Another item many people are sometimes confused about is the concept of secondary insurance which is the type of insurance offered by most credit cards. Basically this means that the insurance company will reimburse you when and if your claim is approved. In the meantime you are responsible for paying all damages.

There are several companies which offer primary insurance meaning basically you walk away from the problems which arise after an accident. American Express offers excellent, primary coverage on rentals made using their card, coverage which costs around $25 per rental and is perhaps the best overall offer I have seen.


Insurance4carhire is an independent which offers supplemental, non-primary insurance:
Sarastro is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 11:15 AM
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This is very good information. Thanks.
Sher is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 12:04 PM
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Good report. We had the American Express primary coverage. They have two policies and we had the $19.95. This takes the collusion deductable to zero, but 'loss of use' can be a problem. Damage on our car was 2000 euros and we ended up paying nothing after AX negotiated no charge for 'loss of use'. As suggested, this is a good policy, because it make AX the primary insurer and you don't have to deal with anyone else.
iris1745 is online now  
Apr 8th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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Thank you for this report. I always worry about something happening when I'm overseas and I'm glad to hear this wasn't terrible for you. Above all I'm glad nobody was hurt, that's what really matters.
P_M is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 04:17 AM
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Really good information for car renters. Very nice report on how to deal with the situation of rental car accident.
daneryland is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 04:39 AM
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Excellent report. I especially liked 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. MC called their BS and saved a bundle.
spaarne is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 05:49 AM
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>Basically this means that the insurance company will reimburse you when and if your claim is approved. In the meantime you are responsible for paying all damages.<

It has been my experience with Amex, MC and Visa that the damages for which you are responsible are assigned to your CC and then put on hold. That is, you are not out of pocket until the claim is settled, if at all.

Europcar is very big on billing everyone, even if they are not at fault, and not providing supporting documents. In my last dealings with them, they wanted $1000 for damages, even though the police report showed that the other driver was at fault. When asked for supporting documents they sent a letter from an "accident investigator" stating that damages to the car would be $1000. That was it.

ira is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 06:42 AM
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Agree with Ira; Nothing was ever charged to my CC with AX using their auto rental insurance. As the primary insurer, with no collision deductible, they took care of everything.
iris1745 is online now  
Apr 9th, 2011, 07:14 AM
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sorry to hear of it - thanks for sharing.

Another thing that I've learned is that different cc's cover different countries. I don't remember the details, but I don't think AmEx covers Ireland, but our Visa coverage did. And maybe our Visa didn't cover Italy, but our AmEx did ?

Its always worth checking in advance and you were smart to do so -
surfmom is online now  
Apr 9th, 2011, 07:21 AM
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Thanks for posting this. One always wonders about such things.

I am a bit confused about the relationship between Hertz and Europcar. Did you rent from Hertz but return to Europcar?
Nikki is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 08:17 AM
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Dorkforcemom - So glad everything worked out for you. We'll be renting a car in France for our next trip and I appreciate all your info. Sounds like I should take along all pertinent insurance info from home as well. Were you told you should have called the police?
travelfan1 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 08:33 AM
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Also, AMEX does not cover Italy. But my wold MC does.
kensulli is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 08:42 AM
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JillDavis is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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I had an accident in England, driving an Avis car, which I had rented from AutoEurope.

What amazed us at the time was that when the tow truck driver brought us to Avis, they gave us another car without comment.

My experience was also very easy. My visa covered the cost of the repairs and then refunded the money to me after I completed the paperwork, which was not onerous.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 09:19 AM
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I apologize for the Hertz/Europcar statement - I didn't have anything to do with Europcar and am not sure why I even typed that! It was always between Autoeurope and Hertz...

As far as calling the police, I wasn't told I should have as much as that was on their list of pertinent information to inquire. If I had a police report, they wanted a copy.

Here's the info MasterCard requested from me:
Claim form
MasterCard billing statement showing cardholder name, credit limit, account number and rental car charge
Personal auto insurance coverage declarations page with carrier name, phone number, deductable, policy coverage dates, etc. (MC didn't file on this, they wanted proof that my auto insurance didn't cover internationally)

This was all in addition to the rental car info (rental agreement, photos of damage, etc.)

Hope this info helps others - all in all, it was an okay experience (i.e. I wasn't responsible for any charges).
dorkforcemom is offline  

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