Getting a Rental Car After an Accident
If your car is damaged and needs repairs after an accident, you may need a rental car until your vehicle is repaired or you receive a fair offer of settlement following a determination that the car was a total loss.
If the accident was YOUR fault or if you were hit by an uninsured driver, you won't receive a free rental car unless you have paid for rental car coverage on your own policy. Read your policy or better yet, contact your insurance agent or company to find out if you have rental car coverage for an accident you caused.
If your car was damaged due to another driver's negligence, the other driver's insurance company must pay your rental car costs for a reasonable length of repair time.
You will never receive a rental car from the negligence driver's insurance company without asking/demanding use of a rental car during the claim process.
Never leave the scene of an accident without getting the other driver's name, address, make, model and year of his/her car and the insurance company name and policy number. You will need that information when you contact their insurance company to open/start your claim.
Finding toll free claims numbers of every major insurance company is simple. Use www.google.com by typing in the "name of the insurance company" with "claims phone number".
Call that number to open a claim as soon as possible. Don't be surprised or discouraged after you contact the at-fault driver's insurance company, they don't immediately authorize a rental car. Be prepared for a response along the lines of "we have to contact our insured and conduct an investigation before we can give you a rental car." The law allows the bad drivers insurance company a "reasonable" time to contact their driver and complete their own investigation of their claim. This is true even when the other driver received a ticket. The investigation to determine if the bad driver's insurance company will take responsibility for your injuries and repair damages should take less than 72-96 hours. Unfortunately, the process may take longer, as every case is different. You will need to make do without a rental car during the investigation.
The type of rental car available to you will be determined by the insurance company paying for the rental. Unless special needs are involved, such as a van with handicap features, the insurance company will usually approve you for a compact to mid-size rental vehicle.
The length of time allowed to keep a rental car varies. If your vehicle is determined to be a total loss (meaning it is no longer safe to drive and repairing it is not a good financial decision), you will usually be allowed to keep the car up to five days after you have received a settlement offer. If your vehicle is considered repairable, you should be able to keep the rental until repairs are finished and your vehicle is returned to you.
Obtaining a rental vehicle after an accident can be a frustrating and difficult process. At Carlson & Burnett, LLP, we will work to make this process less stressful and time consuming for you.
If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact Rich Hitz at Carlson & Burnett, LLP and we will take care of you like a "friend of the family."