If I Can’t Drive My Car After an Accident, Who Will Pay for the Rental Car?
If you were not at fault for the accident, it is likely that the at-fault driver’s insurance will be responsible for paying for a rental car for you while your car is being repaired. This would certainly be the ideal situation. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will not pay for your rental car until a court determines who is at fault for the accident.
If your own insurance policy includes rental coverage, you may be able to use your own insurance to pay for the rental car, then your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance once fault is established.
This is dependent, of course, on whether your insurance includes a rental car in the event of an accident. If your insurance does offer rental insurance, there is usually a cap on the number of days you can have a rental—usually 30 days.
If you do not have rental car insurance, and the other company refuses to pay for the rental car, you may be required to pay for the rental car out-of-pocket, until your claim settles. Unfortunately, this can take time. Insurance companies will deny payouts for as long as humanly possible, waiting until the court determines who was at fault before reimbursing you for rental car expenses.
It is very important that you carefully document all rental-related expenses so your personal injury attorney can work to get the money back from the insurance company as quickly as possible. It is also important to know that you may only rent a “comparable” vehicle—in other words, if you own a Toyota Prius, you cannot rent a Tesla or a BMW. If you are a building contractor who drives a pickup, then you can rent a comparable pickup to continue your business. If you rent a vehicle which is much nicer than your own, you will be responsible for the overage.
As soon as your vehicle is repaired, stop renting the other vehicle, because the insurance company will no longer be responsible for the rental fees. If the insurance company totals your vehicle, they may pay rental fees prior to that determination, however, once you accept a settlement, they are no longer responsible for rental fees.
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