Being involved in an automobile accident is a difficult and stressful experience. If your car is severely damaged and requires repairs, then being without your transportation will make it even more problematic. Since vehicles that are involved in auto accidents can often be in the shop for several weeks, having access to a backup vehicle is essential. Many people have more than one vehicle, and can use alternate transportation while their wrecked car is being repaired. For those of us without a backup vehicle available, the use of a rental car is a viable option. Certain questions are important to consider if you are planning to rent a car while your vehicle is being repaired:
- Was the accident your fault or was it caused by another driver?
- If the accident was your fault, does your insurance policy’s collision or comprehensive coverage include rental car coverage?
- Do you carry additional rental reimbursement coverage?
What happens if the accident is not your fault?
If the accident is not your fault, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company is required to provide a rental car for you to use while your vehicle is being repaired. In this case, the rental is paid as part of the other driver’s liability coverage. Some insurance companies provide a vehicle of a similar size to the one involved in the accident, while others will only cover the expense for the most economical, compact-sized car available. It’s important to check with the insurance company that will be providing the rental to see what type of vehicle they will provide for your use.
Even if the insurance company is only required to reimburse for a compact-sized vehicle, you can request a larger vehicle if you need one. For example, if you have a big family and require a vehicle that can accommodate a large number of passengers, you can request a larger vehicle. If you live in a rural area and require something with four-wheel drive, you can request that also. Remember that the insurance company is not required to pay for a more expensive rental, so you may have to pay the difference out of pocket.
What happens if the accident is your fault?
In Pennsylvania car insurance, rental reimbursement coverage is optional. This means that it is not coverage required by the state, but is offered by insurance carriers at an additional cost. This coverage can be purchased and added to your policy at any time, so if you purchased the initial policy without it you could always add it later. However, rental reimbursement coverage only takes effect if the accident happens after the coverage is added. You cannot add rental reimbursement coverage after an accident in order for your insurance company to cover the cost of the rental car.
If you do have rental reimbursement coverage, then you will want to call your insurance company as soon as possible to arrange for a rental car. In most cases, you will be able to pick up the rental car as soon as your car goes into the shop for repairs. Usually, the insurance representative handling your claim will have already made the rental arrangements.
Insurance for Rental Vehicles
You will have the option of purchasing additional coverage to insure the vehicle you are renting. Your rental reimbursement insurance coverage does not usually cover this added cost. However, if you have full insurance coverage on your personal vehicle, including collision and comprehensive coverage, this protection usually transfers to the rental car you are driving while your vehicle is being repaired.
About Rental Reimbursement Coverage
When using rental reimbursement coverage, there are usually two different options:
- You can rent a car from an approved provider and have the car rental company bill your insurance company directly.
- You can rent a car from the business of your choice and pay for the cost up front. However, you will then need to submit receipts and a claim form in order to be reimbursed for the cost of the rental vehicle.
Rental coverage is sold with limits. For example, a common rental reimbursement policy offers 30/30 coverage, meaning it pays up to $30 a day for 30 days or until the vehicle has been repaired or replaced, whatever happens first. If the rental costs more than $30, you will need to pay the difference out of pocket, even if you don’t use the rental for the full 30 days. Likewise, if the rental goes past 30 days, you will need to pay for the additional days out of pocket, even if the rental did not cost $30.
Some Pa car insurance policies have a daily limit and an overall accident amount for rental reimbursement coverage. For example, your rental reimbursement coverage may be defined as 25/750 coverage. This means that your insurance policy will only pay $25 per day for a rental vehicle and that coverage will stop once you’ve hit the $750 limit.
You are generally allowed to rent a vehicle that is similar to the one that is being repaired when you’re using rental reimbursement coverage. However, if you’re expecting the repairs to be time consuming, you may want to choose a lower-cost vehicle in order to ensure that your coverage does not run out before your vehicle has been repaired.