Having a crash is a terrible feeling at any time, but no worse than when it happens in a foreign country and it’s not your car.
Being involved in an accident – even if it’s not your fault – is enough to ruin any holiday, but if you do have prang in a hire car you need to keep your wits about you to ensure the safety of everyone around you and protect yourself from a financial nightmare.
We asked hire car experts Rentalcars.com to give a step-by-step guide for what to do if you have a shunt while on holiday.
It says there are four key things a driver needs to do immediately after an accident in a hire car.
Step-by-step guide to coping with a shunt abroad: We asked an expert in the hire car sector to explain what motorists need to do if they have a crash in a rental car when on holiday
Nigel Wolstenholme, head of consumer marketing at Rentalcars.com: In the immediate aftermath of a crash, it’s not always easy to think straight.
Using the roads in any country has a level of risk attached.
It’s essential that drivers know what to do in the event of an issue when on holiday, and take the time to consider how much risk they’re comfortable with before they go.
This step-by-step process should be able to guide you immediately after you’ve been involved in an accident.
1. Get everyone to safety and DON’T apologise
The top priority after any car accident is getting yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.
Be careful though; the advice on the NHS website says to avoid moving anyone who’s in a lot of pain in case they’ve broken their leg, or injured or broken their back.
It’s normal to feel shaken but try to remain calm, so take a few deep breaths until you’re confident you can think rationally.
Losing your temper won’t help, and neither will apologising straight away – even if you’re sorry that an unfortunate situation has come about, you don’t want to be mistaken for taking responsibility.
Don’t inadvertently take the blame: It’s easy to apologise after an accident due to the unfortunate circumstance, but if it isn’t your fault then try not to say anything that can be mistaken for accepting fault for the collision
2. Contact the emergency services
It’s a good idea to have the emergency numbers to hand for every country you’re travelling through – and it’s worth doing your research before you set off on your travels.
In the EU, dialling 112 from any mobile or landline will reach the local police, ambulance or fire service – and the number is free to use.
If you’re venturing further afield, this list of emergency numbers might be a useful place to start.
It’s recommended that you call the police, regardless of whether you need emergency assistance or not.
In some countries, such as Germany for example, it is mandatory to call the local police immediately (up to two hours after an accident).
And don’t forget to get hold of a police report, as if you don’t, this could invalidate your insurance.
Be sure to check any location-specific terms included in your rental agreement at pick-up, as requirements such as calling the police after a crash will be mentioned.
Check the location-specific terms included in your rental agreement when you collect your vehicle. It will list any requirements, such as calling the police after a crash
3. Exchange details and record what’s happened
Once everyone’s safe and the emergency services are en route, the next thing to do is exchange details with other parties who are involved – and any passers-by or other drivers who witnessed the incident.
It’s important to remember that this still applies even if the other parties are not present at the scene – perhaps if you’ve hit a parked car.
Take as many photos as you can, and make sure to take note of the following:
· Name, address and contact numbers for other parties and witnesses
· Date and time of the accident
· Colour, registration, make and model of any vehicles involved
· 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
If you’re involved in an accident with a third party in the EU, they will present you with a European Accident Statement form to collect all the information that’s needed – known as the Constat Amiable in France, the CIA in Italy and the DAA in Spain.
The key here is that it will be in the local language of the country you’re visiting, so if you’re not fluent, it’s a good idea to take an English copy with you or to ask for one at the rental desk.
Even though you don’t need to complete it in English as well, having a translation to hand means you won’t miss out any vital information and you understand what’s needed.
After notifying the police and making a record on the collision, the final call you need to make is to the rental company who will be able to inform the insurer, arrange vehicle recovery and provide a replacement car
4. Call the rental company
Last, but by no means least, make sure the rental company is made aware of the situation as soon as you’ve completed steps one to three.
You’ll be able to find their phone number on the rental agreement.
The rental company should be able to handle recovery, repairs and replacement of the hire car if necessary, as well as dealing with the insurance companies and other parties on your behalf.
You can make a very clear case as to who was responsible for the accident, but ultimately, it’s up to the rental company to agree who’s covering the costs – so don’t offer anything at the scene without clearing it with them first.
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