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Property Damage: Rental Cars

Getting a rental car in place through an insurance company is usually one of the most frustrating issues for a claimant. When the accident isn’t your fault, you may have an extra option for rental cars as opposed to when the accident was your fault. In addition to getting a rental car through the at-fault insurance company, you can also get a rental car through your own car insurance. Of course, you must have rental car coverage. Either check your policy declaration page, which is a 1 page summary of your coverage, or call your insurance company and ask them.

Insurance Company Delays

You know the accident wasn’t your fault and the police report says it wasn’t your fault. Yet, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is dragging its feet in getting you a rental car because it says it is still investigating the accident. What this really means is they haven’t gotten a statement from their insured yet confirming it was their fault.

Unfortunately, you don’t have any leverage against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You are not their customer so they won’t have any concerns over their customer service reputation. And if they do end up admitting fault and paying for your property damage and rental car, they will just have to pay up like they would have at the front end.  This includes reimbursing you for a rental car, which is the same expense as if they paid for the rental car up front.

Type of Rental Car

Most states require an insurance company put you in a “similar” rental car. After all, you are being denied the use of your car because of someone else’s negligence and its only fitting that you get the same type of car. Keep in mind “similar” deals with the type of car, not the brand. So if you were driving a Mercedes don’t expect they put you in a Mercedes rental. What the similar car rule means is that if you were driving a mini-van or pickup truck, the insurance company needs to put you in that same type of rental car.

Length of Rental

You will generally be allowed to stay in the rental car until all the repairs are completed to your satisfaction. This is the main reason why PD claims move so fast – the insurance company wants you out of the rental car as soon as possible. If it becomes an issue, ask the adjuster for an extension and explain why. Most rental car companies are billing the insurance company directly, so there shouldn’t be a need for you to talk to the rental car office about paying for the extension. However, you should call the rental car company and confirm they have talked to the adjuster and know about the extension and are billing the insurance company. You don’t want the rental car company to be out of the loop because the un-returned car may be flagged as missing or stolen.

Storage Fees

You shouldn’t let your wrecked car sit in storage running up storage fees (which are outrageously high).  Most states require that you mitigate (lessen) your damages. This means taking action to manage and limit your storage fees to any longer then possible.  You should ask the at-fault insurance company to move the car from the tow yard to its storage facility. This will get your car out of the private towing company’s grips (i.e. high fees) and into the insurance company’s lot, which is usually free.

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