Rental car accident France 11/2, need advice!!

Yep, got in a car accident with an Avis car in the countryside around
St. Emilion France. No one hurt but it was scary. Police came, filled out report( I don't read/speak French so at a loss there ) My fault, many signs, but missed Stop sign. If anyone can give any advice on pitfalls to this process. French/rental/law/help. Many trips to Europe, first accident. John

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3341 posts

I'm very sorry about the accident but glad no one was hurt. If you haven't already, report this to the rental agency and be very clear about everything they need you to do and the forms you need to fill out. You don't want to miss something that might hurt your insurance coverage (someone saying a week from now that you aren't covered because you didn't fill out such-and-such form...). If you didn't have the rental CDW, notify your own insurance or credit card and do everything they tell you. Make sure you have a copy of the accident report.

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
930 posts

I agree with Doug. Hopefully, you have already contacted the rental car agency. Getting the police report was equally important. Then document,document, document. I can tell you what happened with us when we had an accident in 2008: We read our CDW insurance papers and made sure we had all the paperwork we needed. We took lots of pictures of the damage. We returned the car. They did not even come out and look at it. They just said we would be billed for the damage (We did not have their CDW insurance) About 3 months later, we got a bill for the repairs. We had to pay it. After paying it we were able to file a claim with our travel insurance company which had provided $50,000 in car rental coverage.I included all the required paperwork, and statements from everyone who was in the car as to what happened. (The Italian police refused to give us a police report. We had the car rental agency on the phone telling them they had to, the poor German man who we had hit yelling at them...they drove away. I was most concerned about that since a police report was required, which is why I included statements from everyone as to why we did not have one) About 2 weeks later, we got a check for the full amount. I never heard anything more from the rental agency or the man we rear ended. I know they paid to fix his vehicle (not much damage) because liability insurance is automatically included with any rental. There really isn't anything you else you have to do, unless you also got a ticket. (That was the up side to no police report) In 2012, we returned and rented a car for 3 weeks to drive around France. We used the same car rental agency (rented through Autoeurope but they used Europcar for the rental) and used the same travel insurance company for coverage. Both companies had no problem doing business with us again. Happily, we returned the car in the same condition we got it.

Posted by John
Cranberry TWP, Pa, USA
11 posts

Thanks Connie. I have tried to get all the principles together while I was still in France. Avis,Police, Chubb(Criedit card insurer) and whoebver would talk. I think the Police report was key and it was in the rental car that the Police took out to make the report on. No ticket also. I have contacted Chubb and they want a mountain of paperwork. Also, Avis took the copy of the Police report and gave me another copy. Chubb said about 180 days, and I will have to pay Avis (maybe $10,000, Avis has a max of $13,000) before I get reimbursed from Chubb. Chubb did say it must be "approved" by them, so it's not a sure thing from Chubb. I still don't know if it's a good idea to take the Avis CDW or Credit card's
insurance by declining Avis. I'll post again with the results many months from now.... John

Posted by Robert
720 posts

Insurance companies are mostly in the business of trying to insure against things that can't happen, and then trying to avoid paying when they do, unless they're constrained by law. This comes from 15 years of experience litigating against insurance companies plus personal experience. Just get all your documentation together and be prepared to spend a lot of time dealing with it.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3772 posts

So in your opinion, John, was the "freedom" that this rental car gave you worth the headaches and stress that you're going through now? I'm really curious because I always recommend people to take the trains and avoid rental cars just exactly because of the experiences that you've had. What would you do differently next time you rent a vehicle?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
22101 posts

John, Sorry to hear about the M.V.I., but glad to hear that no one was injured. As you admitted fault, hopefully your travel insurance won't try to avoid paying. For future reference, this is one reason why I now accept the best CDW offered by the rental firms, regardless of the cost. It provides a certain degree of "peace of mind". I tend to use car rentals "strategically" for specific purposes, and try to travel by train or Bus most of the time. Good luck!

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
930 posts

John- It sounds like it will all work out ok. One last piece of advice my brother-in-law gave me (he was in the car): "Your best shot at getting your claim paid is your FIRST attempt. Make sure you have everything in order" I added extra statements and made sure I had everything they required (sans the police report-that was my biggest fear) My insurance company also stressed that it had to be approved-but I think that is because they want you to know that their working with you is not a verbal approval and they need to see everything. In the end, my company paid up in less than 2 weeks. An accident is just that: an accident. My husband had an accident here in the US many years ago and did not give up driving, so I know he won't give up driving in Europe because of one. We love having a car and have many "spur of the moment" memories because of it. I am sorry it happened to you, but don't let it ruin your memories of your trip or the idea of doing it again!