Am I Entitled to a Rental Vehicle After an Accident?

After a car accident, 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 complicated than it should be. Your rental vehicle should be comparable to your vehicle that sustained damage in the accident.

Anyone can get a rental vehicle after a car accident. However, if you caused the accident or liability is in question, you may have to pay for this vehicle out of your pocket.

Before you rent a car, talk to an experienced Arkansas car accident lawyer. Your lawyer will examine your case details to determine if you’re entitled to rental car coverage. This often includes reviewing your insurance policy and the at-fault driver’s policy. It may also mean investigating the accident and building a solid case to get you the money and reimbursements you deserve.

How to Get a Rental Vehicle After an Accident

You may not know what to do if you need a rental car after an accident. Who do you call, and how can you get a car fast? Before you try to rent a car after an accident, consider the following.

Not all rental car companies are the same—some charge more than others for the same types of vehicles. Do a little research to get the best deal.

Most insurance companies will only reimburse rental car fees if the vehicle is a similar make and model. You shouldn’t have to settle for a small 2-door sedan if you drive a mini-van. Likewise, if you drive a Honda Accord, they won’t reimburse you for a Cadillac.

You may find rental car discounts through your credit card company or AAA. Enterprise, for example, gives discounts to individuals who’ve been in a car accident, so be sure to ask the agent about discounts before renting.

Most rental car companies need specific paperwork before they can rent a vehicle. To rent a car in the United States, you must be 25 years old with a valid driver’s license and have a valid credit card or debit card to pay for the rental.

When you rent a vehicle, be sure to ask about restrictions and mileage usage. Many rental car companies do not want you to use toll roads and restrict how many miles you can drive in a day. Knowing the rules can help you avoid excessive fees and penalties.

Where to File a Rental Car Claim After an Accident?

The best-case scenario is when the at-fault driver’s insurance company immediately accepts 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 to begin the claims process. This is the best and first option for filing a rental car claim and prevents you from raising your insurance premiums or paying for rental car expenses out of your own pocket.

Another possibility is to file a claim with your own insurance company. This often occurs when the at-fault driver’s insurance company delays or denies 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 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.

Does the At-fault Driver’s Insurance Pay for the Rental Car?

Arkansas is an at-fault state, meaning the driver who caused the crash must pay for the damages, including rental car fees. Insurance companies are good at contesting accident charges and claims. They may say that you contributed to the accident, or they may refuse to pay the rental car fees until the end. When this occurs, what can you do?

Your car insurance provider is the fastest way to rent a car after an accident. Most policies include rental car coverage if you’re ever in an accident. However, not all do. Be sure to talk to your attorney and insurance agent to see if rental car fees are covered.

If liability is clear, you can see if the at-fault driver’s insurance company will foot the bill for the rental car. In some cases, they will. However, many insurance companies refuse to pay expenses quickly. As such, it can take time to get the money you need.

Sometimes, you might need to pay for the car rental yourself. If you pay for the rental car out-of-pocket, ask your Arkansas car accident lawyer how you might get those charges reimbursed later.

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Rental Car After an Accident?

Unfortunately, receiving compensation isn’t immediate after an accident. Even if you aren’t to blame, insurance companies need time to investigate the claim to 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.

The insurance company will take time to investigate the claim before they pay anything. The investigation can take anywhere from five to ten days or even longer if the car crash involves a total loss.

Sometimes insurance companies and adjusters take too long to investigate claims. They may also request unnecessary information first, such as recorded statements. Your attorney can help push the process through faster and ensure the insurance company isn’t acting in bad faith.

Rental Car Claim FAQ

Can I Get a Vehicle That’s Comparable to My Car?

  • Virtually all states, including Arkansas, recognize the right of accident victims to receive a rental vehicle comparable to the one they lost.
  • While the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is required to provide a comparable rental vehicle, they often will deny your claim for a comparable rental or simply choose the least expensive option, regardless of what you are entitled to.
  • If you submit a rental car claim with your insurance company, they are only required to offer you a comparable vehicle up to the limits of your insurance policy.

Can I Choose My Own Rental Car Company?

  • Insurance providers may have a rental car company they prefer to use. You aren’t required to use their preferred rental car company, but it can be easier than seeking reimbursement after choosing a different rental car company.
  • You have a right to choose the rental car company that works best for you, especially if you’re paying with your insurance policy or out-of-pocket. If you have questions about choosing a rental car company after an accident, your Arkansas car accident lawyer can help.

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 vehicle is repaired and returned to them. Accident victims need to be diligent in handling their repair work. Any delays in repairing your car could jeopardize your ability to keep your rental car through the process.

How Does a Total Loss Claim Affect My Ability to Rent a Car?
  • If the vehicle is a total loss, you can keep your rental car until you settle with the insurance company.
  • In Arkansas, an insurance provider considers any car with more than 75% damage a total loss. If you decide to keep your rental car after the insurance company has declared your vehicle 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. You may not need to pay this initial deposit if a direct bill has been set up through an insurance company. However, there are times when a small deposit is still required. The rental car company may refund this deposit when the rental is returned and billing is finalized with the insurance company.
  • You do not need to purchase additional insurance if you have collision 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 rental car company’s pricey insurance, ask your insurance company if you’re covered.
  • This insurance carries over even when driving a rental car if you have adequate liability coverage. If you cause an injury accident while driving a rental car, your liability insurance will pay for the victim’s medical expenses and property damage. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, your insurance policy will also cover damage to the rental car you’re driving.

Contact Our Little Rock Car Accident Attorneys Today

When 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.

With nine offices in Arkansas and Tennessee – Little Rock, Little Rock-Corporate Hill, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Memphis—our accident lawyers are easily accessible when you need us. Fill out a free contact request form or call (800) 434-4800 and tell us your story.

We’re here to help.

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