Getting a Rental Vehicle after an Accident
After a car accident you may be confused and uncertain where to turn for help. Being unable to drive to your medical appointments, school, or work can be difficult for families who are suffering after an accident. You know that you weren’t at fault, but somehow, you’re still stuck paying the bills.
Unfortunately, receiving compensation isn’t immediate after an accident. Even if you aren’t to blame, insurance companies need time to investigate the claim and determine who is at fault and negotiate how much compensation you are entitled to. Likewise, you need time to understand the full extent of your injuries and the damages you’ve suffered.
During this time, you need to focus on getting your life back together again and this may mean obtaining a rental car for the interim while your case is pending. Unfortunately, getting a rental car after an accident can be more difficult than it should be. The rental vehicle provided should be comparable to your vehicle that sustained damage in the accident.
Where Can You File a Rental Car Claim After an Accident?
The best-case scenario is when the at-fault driver’s insurance company agrees to immediately accept liability for the traffic collision. When this occurs, the insurance company will pay for the rental car until your car is repaired or until you agree to a settlement. To file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company you must call their insurance company directly and begin the claims process. This is the best and first option for filing a rental car claim and prevents you from hurting your own insurance premiums or paying for rental car expenses out of your own pocket.
Another possibility is by filing a claim with your own insurance company. This often occurs when the at-fault driver’s insurance company is delaying or denying fault. Until they decide to accept blame for the crash, you must go through your own insurance company. If you have rental coverage through your own insurance plan, then you would file a claim with your plan. Once the at-fault driver’s insurance company reaches a settlement or accepts fault, your company will be able to collect payment for your rental car from them through subrogation.
Can I Get a Vehicle That’s Comparable to My Car?
Insurance providers may have a rental car company they prefer to use. It isn’t required that you use their preferred rental car company, but it can be easier than seeking reimbursement after choosing a different rental car company. Virtually all states, including Arkansas, recognize the right of accident victims to receive a rental vehicle that is comparable to the one they lost.
While the liability insurer of the at-fault driver is required to provide a comparable rental vehicle, they often do not. This can become an uphill battle for accident victims, and they may try to deny your claim for a comparable rental, or they may simply choose the least expensive option, regardless of what you are entitled to.
If you are submitting a rental car claim with your own insurance company, however, they are only required to offer you a comparable vehicle up to the limits of your insurance policy. This is one reason why it is so important to carry adequate car insurance.
How Long Can I Keep the Rental Car
Most major car insurance companies will rent cars for up to 30 days. In general, accident victims are allowed to keep their rental car until their own car is repaired and returned to them. This can take weeks to complete. However, accident victims need to be diligent in taking their car for repair work. Any delays in getting your car repaired could jeopardize your ability to keep your rental car through the process.
If the vehicle is determined to be a total loss, you would be able to keep your rental car until you reach a settlement with the insurance company. In Arkansas, an insurance provider considers any car that has more than 75% damage to be a total loss. If you decide to keep your rental car after the insurance company has declared your car to be a loss, then you will be on the hook for any additional rental car fees and expenses past that date.
Do I Have to Pay a Deposit?
A car rental deposit is often required before you rent a vehicle. If a direct bill has been set up through an insurance company, you may not be forced to pay this initial deposit. However, there are times when a small deposit is still required. This deposit may be refunded when the rental is returned, and billing is finalized with the insurance company.
If you have collision insurance, you do not need to purchase additional insurance. In addition, if you use your credit card to put down the deposit, your credit card may come with rental car insurance. Before you agree to the pricey insurance at the rental car company, ask your own insurance company if you’re covered.
If you have adequate liability coverage, then this insurance carries over even when you’re driving a rental car. This means that if you cause an injury accident while driving a rental car, your own liability insurance will pay for the victims’ medical expenses and property damage. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage as well, then your insurance policy will also cover damage to the rental car you’re driving.
We’re There When You Need Us
After an accident, getting a rental vehicle should be an easy task – but it’s not. The rental vehicle you obtain may not be comparable to the one you lost in the accident and getting a vehicle you need and deserve can be a battle. When you’re injured in an accident, the last thing you should be fighting is your insurance company over what type of car you’re allowed to rent. When this occurs, we can help. The Arkansas car accident attorneys at Rainwater, Holt, and Sexton are ready to fight for you and your legal rights after an injury accident.
Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and tell us your story. With seven offices conveniently located throughout Arkansas and Tennessee—Little Rock, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Bryant, and Memphis we are there to help you through the details of your car accident.