After you have been in an automobile accident the most important step is making sure that everyone involved is OK. An automobile can be replaced, unlike a human life! However, one of the most annoying hassles of car accidents is that your vehicle may be too damaged to drive. If you do not have a secondary vehicle to get you to and from work while your car is being repaired, your accident could cost you even more money because of lost wages or from losing your job. Understanding when you are entitled to a rental car after you have been in an accident is very important and can save you a lot of headaches and money while you are waiting for your car to be repaired.

Who Pays for a Rental?

When You Aren’t At-Fault

If you are in an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be the one to provide and pay for a rental car for you to use while you are getting your own car fixed. However, if the company is disputing liability or taking their time to authorize a rental, you may find yourself waiting days to receive a rental car. If this happens, you may be able to use your own personal rental insurance, if you have this type of coverage on your policy. Call the claims adjuster you spoke with to see if they can provide a rental car for you and directly bill the liable insurance company.

When You Are At-Fault

If the accident is your fault, you will be responsible for paying for a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired. If you have rental coverage on your insurance policy, or rental reimbursement, this will pay for the cost of a rental while you wait for your vehicle to be fixed. If you do not have rental coverage on your policy, you will be responsible for paying out-of-pocket for a rental.

If you have been in an accident and do not have rental reimbursement on your vehicle, talk to the adjuster before taking your vehicle to a mechanic. If your vehicle needs to go back to the dealership for repairs, there may be a possibility the dealer themselves will lend you a vehicle to use while yours is being fixed. However, in most cases you will need to secure your own rental car.

What is Rental Reimbursement?

Rental reimbursement is an optional coverage that is offered when you take out insurance on your vehicle. This insurance will help to pay for the cost of a rental car if yours is damaged in an accident. While this coverage is not required by law, it is very beneficial if you need a vehicle for work or school while yours is undergoing auto repair. Most insurance companies offer this coverage for just a couple of dollars a month or less.

When Can You Use a Rental Car?

You may need a rental car when your vehicle is damaged in an accident, by severe weather, theft, vandalism or by hitting a deer or other animal while driving. There are a couple of ways that you can rent a car while yours is being fixed. You may be able to rent a car from an approved dealer who will bill your insurance company for you. You may also rent a car and pay for the costs up front, and then submit the receipts to your insurance company for reimbursement. Talk to your insurance claims adjuster to discuss the best option for you.

Limits on Rentals

While your car insurance policy may provide you with a rental while your car is being fixed, you will still have to stay within the limits of coverage. There is usually a limit on how many days the insurance will pay for the vehicle, and your policy could also have a limit regarding the amount they will pay for the rental each day. Your insurance policy will usually allow you to rent a vehicle similar to what you already own. Remember, you will be responsible for supplying gas to your vehicle. Many companies will charge you an extra fee if you return the vehicle without the same amount of gas that was supplied when you drove the vehicle off the premises.

How much you have to pay for rental coverage will depend on your insurance policy. If you are in an accident, make sure to talk to your insurance adjuster about getting a rental car while the damages are being taken care of. Your bill may be completely covered for you.