Who will pay for a rental vehicle while I am waiting for my vehicle to be fixed or waiting to buy a new vehicle because my vehicle was deemed a total loss?
One of the most pressing concerns you will have just after a motor vehicle crash is securing transportation while your vehicle is being fixed or finding a new vehicle if the insurance company has deemed the vehicle a total loss. Most people rely on their vehicles to bring them to work. It’s easy to see how the loss of use of your vehicle even temporarily can have far-reaching effects on daily life. Helping resolve this issue is something we often do at Dismuke Law.
Whose company pays for the rental?
The first question is, do you have coverage through your insurance policy that provides rental reimbursement? Typically, this coverage is only available if you purchased Comprehensive and Collision. Rental reimbursement provides coverage for the cost of renting a replacement vehicle in certain situations. In the event of a covered loss, your insurance company will reimburse you for vehicle rental expenses up to the limits specified in your policy. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts liability right away, a rental vehicle can be paid for during the time it is needed. If you don’t have the appropriate coverage, then your only option for rental reimbursement is through the at-fault driver’s insurance. Some other items to consider:
When Your Insurance Pays
- Have your legal representative contact your insurance company early to open a claim to get the process started.
- Your insurance company is not responsible for rental reimbursement unless there is a covered claim that triggers the need for a rental vehicle.
- While some insurance companies may pay for your rental vehicle in advance, eliminating the need for you to initially pay out of pocket, they are not required by law to do so. In fact, most contracts state that the insured must pay for the vehicle rental in full and then submit the receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement.
- Your policy's vehicle coverage is less than that under the at-fault party’s policy and may only cover a small daily allowance (e.g. $30 per day).
- If you are going through your own insurance policy, then your rights to a rental vehicle are defined in the insurance policy and should be reviewed immediately after a motor vehicle crash.
When Their Insurance Pays
- Have your legal representative contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company early to open a claim to get the process started.
- The at-fault insurance company can sometimes take weeks to determine liability before issuing payment for a rental vehicle. This process takes far too long to address immediate concerns over renting a vehicle. This delay is primarily the reason to go through your own insurance.
- If you’ve been determined to be partially at fault for the motor vehicle accident, then your recovery of rental reimbursement is reduced by the percentage you are deemed to be responsible.
- If the other driver’s vehicle determines you are entirely at fault, then the only other option is to go through your insurance if you have the appropriate coverage.
- Your temporary replacement vehicle, when paid for by the at-fault driver’s insurance, must be of a similar type as the vehicle you own. There is likely no such requirement under your policy.
How long can I have the rental?
Be mindful of deadlines issued by the insurance company to return the rental vehicle once your vehicle has been repaired or payment has been to you after the vehicle has been deemed a total loss. Often your access to a rental vehicle is the shortest (72 hours or less) when your vehicle has been deemed a total loss, and the at-fault driver’s insurance has issued you a check. Allowance for a rental is often less than a week.
Will my premiums go up if I use my insurance?
Premiums are increased all the time and may have nothing to do with any specific claim. Just because you were in an accident does not mean your premiums will necessarily increase. Florida law specifically prohibits additional premiums absent a showing of fault on your behalf. According to Florida law, an insurer may not do the following:
“Impos[e] or request an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance or any combination thereof or refusing to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless the insurer’s file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident.”