You need to follow a very specific course of action after an accident.

Make sure to call 911 after getting into an accident and file a report, even if you were at fault. It’s crucial to get the facts down at the time of the accident in case anyone decides to pursue legal action later.

After filing a report, it’s important to get in contact with your insurer if you’d like to file a claim against the other parties involved in the accident. Your insurer will not only make this process much easier, but they’ll also cover your damages if the other parties are uninsured.

Lastly, call your lease finance company (because technically, the car belongs to them – you’re just renting it).

What to do if your car is fixable

If your car is fixable, don’t just take it to any old body shop. Leasing companies oftentimes won’t accept cars that are fixed with non-manufacturer parts (or non-OEM parts). Using those parts could put you at risk for having to change the fixes you made and use OEM parts the second time around.

What to do if the vehicle is a total loss

When the cost of fixing your car becomes more expensive than the cost of the car itself, then your car becomes considered a “total loss.” When getting into an accident, this is probably your best-case scenario, as your insurer will cover the cost of the remainder of your lease, and any previous damages or over-mileage you may have accrued become obsolete. You walk away from your lease totally free and clear.

Sometimes, if you’re in luck, your buyout balance could be more than your insurance company’s buyout – meaning that you’d get a check in the mail for the difference.

In the more frequent case where your buyout balance is more than your insurance company’s buyout, you’d have to pay the difference. This is where GAP insurance comes into play and covers that cost.

Basically…

In the case that you can fix your car, you’d be required to pay off the rest of your lease as usual and then return your car at the end of your leasing term. However, the resale value of your car would probably have decreased, meaning that it’s valued less and wouldn’t be getting a substantial return if any return at all in the case that you tried to trade or sell the leased car.

If your car was a total loss, you walk away debt-free and the only bummer is really that you don’t have a car anymore.

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