While there are a number of benefits to leasing a vehicle, you may run into issues if you end up in a car accident. However, the steps you take after are similar to any other collision.
There are several critical steps to take after a car accident with a leased vehicle:
Even if it was a minor fender bender, make sure you notify the police. It’s better to have a police report on file that establishes the facts and their opinion on fault, so that future disputes can be resolved easily. First responders will also arrive on the scene and provide transportation to the hospital if anyone needs it.
Document everything you can about the accident, including taking photos and/or videos of the scene, both vehicles, and their damage, any debris, skid marks, signs or signals, and your injuries. Also, ask for contact information from any other person involved and witnesses. If there are witnesses, ask if they are willing to make a brief statement that you can record on your phone.
Your health is the top priority, and you should receive a complete medical examination even if you don’t believe you were injured. In addition, medical records linking your injury and any potential injuries to the collision are vital to recovering compensation.
Regardless of fault, notify your auto insurer, and they will walk you through next steps.
They will want to know that their vehicle has been involved in an accident, especially if it is declared a total loss (“totaled”), as well as that you have filed an insurance claim.
If your accident was severe and another driver was at fault, a lawyer can help you obtain further compensation in addition to repairing your vehicle, including for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and any other accident-related losses.
When you lease a car, the company that provides it will typically state in the contract that you must notify them of any accidents within a day or two. The leasing company has a say in what happens next and will likely demand the repairs to restore the vehicle to a like-new condition, meaning all parts must be OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Your insurance company may also require that you notify them of a collision. Whether you end up filing a claim with your insurer or the at-fault party’s insurance company, a claims adjuster will make an appointment to inspect your vehicle and estimate the costs of repairs or replacement. Be sure to check the terms of your lease since some agreements state that you have to have repairs done at an approved location.
Signing a lease also often means you must have collision and comprehensive coverage. This means that if there is an accident, your auto insurer will pay for any damages regardless of who was at fault. Therefore, you have a choice to go through your insurer or the at-fault driver’s. However, your auto insurance company can help make the process of filing your claim against the other driver’s insurer much easier. If you file a claim with your insurer, then they will pursue reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer on your behalf for the benefits they have paid out to you. Keep in mind that you will still be responsible for paying your deductible unless your insurer recovers it from the other driver’s insurer.
If a leased vehicle is a total loss, which means the estimated cost to repair it exceeds 65% of its value, the insurance company will pay you for the vehicle’s current value. Unfortunately, you may still owe the leasing company for the outstanding balance on your loan. If you opted for gap insurance, it should cover the difference. When another person is at fault for totaling your leased vehicle, you can pursue a claim against their insurer or bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to fully cover your losses.
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