One of the most immediate problems after an auto accident is going about getting your car repaired or replaced. This usually involves getting a rental car while your car is under repair or looking for a new vehicle in the event yours was totaled. Normally, the insurance company for the at-fault party put you, the injured party, into a rental car from the day or accident (or in the days after when they have investigated and accepted liability), until the day your car is repaired OR the day they make you a property damage settlement offer is your car is deemed a total loss. If the at-fault insurance company will not put you into a rental car immediately or within a few days after your crash, you can always choose to pay out of pocket and request reimbursement from the at-fault carrier. Keep in mind, the carrier will only pay a reasonable amount to put you in a similar vehicle to what you were driving at the time of the crash. This means if you were driving a compact you, you should rent a compact car and not a SUV or you will end up paying the difference out of your own pocket. Finally, if you have your own rental coverage on your auto insurance policy, you always have the right to go through your own carrier to repair/replace your car and to be put in a rental vehicle during that time pursuant to your insuring agreement.
There are pros and cons to each option above, so you will need to choose what works best for your circumstances.
We suggest that you first call your insurance company to see if you have rental coverage and if you do check to see what the daily limit is. Most insurance companies will only pay up to a certain dollar amount per day for a rental vehicle. If you choose to use your own insurance, make sure to pick a vehicle under that limit because once that money is gone they will not pay any additional and you will have to pay any difference out of pocket. Your policy may also specify how many days they will pay for your use of a rental car so be sure to review your policy.
If you do not have rental on your policy or you choose not to utilize your own policy be aware that getting into a rental vehicle may take longer going through the at-fault parties insurance. You will have to first open a claim and wait until they finish their liability investigation which could take a week to fully investigate. During their investigation you will be without a vehicle which can be very frustrating.
In the alternative, you could get in a rental car immediately by paying out of pocket. When you obtain a rental car on your own be sure to tell them that you will be transferring the expenses and obligation of the rental car over to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This can be the easiest and fastest way to get back on the road after an auto accident. To do this you will only need a valid credit card and your driver’s license. If, however, the rental car company will not transfer the cost to the at-fault party’s insurance, you can submit the cost of the rental for reimbursement from the person that hit you, but again this could take time for you to receive the reimbursement but at least you will not be without a vehicle.
When getting a rental vehicle, consider declining the offered “supplemental insurance” of the rental car. So long as you carry insurance on your wrecked car, the purchase of any additional rental car insurances is thought by many to be unnecessary, and the insurance company will not reimburse you for that expense.
Chelsie M. Lamie is a personal injury attorney in Safety Harbor, Florida. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call 727-501-3464 for a free consultation. You can also learn more about Attorney Lamie by visiting www.chelsielamie.com.