In addition to handling many motorcycle accident cases throughout the years, I have also handled a number of car accident cases. When I represent an individual injured in a motorcycle accident or a car accident, I will handle any of their property damage claims at no extra charge (my attorneys fees are based on a percentage of the recovery for the personal injury claim when it is resolved). Based on my experience with handling car total loss claims and car repair claims for 30+ years, it is my recommendation that car owners strongly consider having rental coverage under their car insurance policy. Rental coverage means that your car insurance company will pay for a rental vehicle when your vehicle has been involved in an accident (more on that below) and is not drivable because it is totaled or it is being repaired. The typical coverage is a maximum rental rate of $30.00 a day for a maximum of 30 days, but I recently saw a car insurance policy where the coverage was $50.00 per day for 30 days. Now, if you were involved in an accident and you have an extra vehicle in the household, there may be no need to get rental coverage because you have an “extra” vehicle to drive in case another one of your vehicles is damaged (and undrivable) or totaled in an accident.
Below I discuss the different scenarios in which you would be involved in an accident and could need a rental car because your vehicle is totaled or not drivable while it is being repaired. With these scenarios I am going to assume that you do not have an extra vehicle to drive nor do you have the ability to borrow a vehicle from a family member or friend.
You are At-Fault in an Accident
If you are at-fault in a car accident and you do not have rental coverage, you will be without transportation until your car is fixed or your car is totaled and you are able to purchase another vehicle. If you have rental coverage, then your car insurance company will provide you with a rental car pursuant to the terms of your policy.
You Are Involved in an Accident that is No One’s Fault
If you are involved in an accident that is no one’s fault the damage to your car or the payment of the total loss of your car would only be covered under your car insurance policy if you have coverage often referred to “comprehensive” but can also be designated as “damage to your auto-other than collision loss.” A “collision loss” is an accident involving a collision with another motor vehicle. Repairs or a total loss covered under the comprehensive section of an insurance policy occurs when damage to your car for a reason other than a motor vehicle accident, for example, hitting a deer, hail, a fallen tree, vandalism, theft, etc. If you are involved in this type of accident and you do not have rental coverage, you will be without transportation until your car is fixed or your car is totaled and you are able to purchase another vehicle. If you have rental coverage, then your car insurance company will provide you with a rental car pursuant to the terms of your policy.
You are Involved in a Collision and the Other Driver is At-Fault
There are many situations in which an individual is involved in a collision and they have the insurance company of the driver at fault handle the repairs, total loss and car rental. If you are involved in a collision that is the fault of the other driver, here are the scenarios in which you may want your own car insurance company to handle the repairs or total loss to your vehicle. (1) You are not familiar with the other driver’s insurance company and that makes you feel uneasy to deal with them. (2) You have 1 or more conversations with the other driver’s insurance company and you do not get a good feeling about how they may handle the damage or total loss to your vehicle. (3) The insurance company of the other driver tells you that it may take a while to investigate the accident to make sure that their driver was indeed at fault in the accident, but you want to have your property damage claim moved forward more quickly. If any of these scenarios apply and you do not have rental coverage, then it is unlikely that the insurance company of the driver at-fault will pay for a rental car because you have made the decision to have your own insurance company handle your claim. So, it could be that you not having rental coverage may make you feel that you have to let the insurance company of the driver at-fault handle your claim. If you want your own insurance company to handle your property damage and you have rental coverage, then your car insurance company will pay for rental car pursuant to the terms of your policy. Please note that if you use your own rental coverage when you are not at fault in a collision, then your insurance company cannot raise your premiums simply because you made a claim for rental coverage.
Another reason to consider obtaining rental coverage under your own car insurance policy is that this coverage is typically fairly cheap. I took a look a current client’s car insurance policy, and their premium is $20 per year for rental coverage of $30.00 a day for a maximum of $900.00 (which essentially means 30 days of coverage). So, the coverage for a whole year can be less than needing to rent a car for only 1 day.
If you are involved in a car accident and have questions regarding any property damage issues that you may be facing please give me a call. The consultation is always free.
Gary Poole, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney and North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney