Being involved in a car wreck is stressful, but that stress increases dramatically for most people when their car needs to be repaired, and they are faced with the prospect of not having a vehicle for an extended period of time while their car is repaired. In fact, it takes up to two weeks on average for a car to be repaired after a crash. Rental cars can be very expensive, and cost several hundred dollars a week, and usually require a credit card deposit as well. Who pays this cost? That depends – the following information should help you determine whether your insurance, or the at-fault driver’s insurance should be providing you with a rental car.
Here is what you need to know and consider about getting a rental car after an accident.
Will the other person’s insurance pay for a rental car?
If you were involved in a car accident that was not your fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover the cost of a rental for you. However, if they didn’t have insurance, which, unfortunately, is very common in San Antonio and south Texas, you will likely need to see if your insurance provides for rental coverage. Here’s what you need to know.
Coverage by the at-fault driver’s insurance company
If the other person is found at fault for the accident, and he or she has the insurance required by law, that driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your rental car. They are required to provide you for a rental car for a reasonable amount of time, usually during the time required for your car to be repaired. You should contact them as soon as possible to get the rental process started because this process isn’t always easy, or fast. If it’s pretty clear that the other driver was at fault, but their insurance company is claiming that they are “investigating liability,” or that they haven’t determined liability (who was at fault), you should contact an attorney right away to protect your rights.
The other driver’s insurance company should provide you with a vehicle that is similar to yours, or at least the same size. You may have to fight with them on this, but if you have four kids, and run a carpool for soccer practice, and you drove a van, they should provide you with a van because your needs require it. They may pushback, but stand your ground and explain why you need it and they will usually concede, and provide you with a vehicle that meets your needs. If you drive a luxury sedan, they will probably not provide you a luxury sedan. Under Texas law they have to provide you a rental that is reasonably similar to your vehicle. Because Texas law is stacked in favor of insurance companies, the term “reasonable” is usually what is reasonable for the insurance company, sadly.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company denies you a rental car, ask them to provide a reason to you in writing, which is required by law.
It’s usually better to get the rental from the other driver’s insurance company so that you’re protected from unexpected costs. However, if the other driver had no insurance, or their insurance company is taking too long to get you into a rental, you may need to seek a rental from your own insurance. However, I always advise to do all you can to get the at-fault driver’s insurance to arrange the rental because it can save you a lot of headaches and unexpected charges.
Coverage and Reimbursement from your own insurance company
If the other driver didn’t have insurance, or you need a rental more quickly than what the at-fault driver’s insurance company can arrange, you can run it through your own insurance, if you have rental coverage.
Unlike many states, vehicle rental coverage is optional in Texas. If you have low-cost insurance, rental coverage is probably not included with your own insurance. Call your insurance company to see if you have rental reimbursement coverage.
Depending on your insurance agreement, some insurance companies will reimburse you for rental coverage (meaning that you have to pay it first and they will reimburse afterwards). If you’re going to get reimbursed, you should know that most insurance policies have both a daily rental limit, and per occurrence limit. Make sure you know these numbers, or you could get stuck paying a portion of the rental yourself if it’s not reimbursable (this is why I recommend going through the at-fault driver’s insurance if available).
What if other driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the other driver doesn’t have valid insurance at the time of the collision, you only have two choices:
- Use the rental coverage on your own insurance policy (if you have it), or
- Pay for it out of your own pocket.
Because of the high percentage of uninsured drivers in San Antonio and South Texas, we always recommend that you carry uninsured motorist protection (both property and bodily injury) on your own insurance policy. It will only cost you a few more dollars each month, but it will save you a lot of hassle, and money if you get hit by someone without insurance. We get phone calls every week from people who were hit by an uninsured driver but didn’t have their own uninsured motorist coverage – unfortunately we get to break the bad news to them that they are going to get stuck paying for their property damage, medical bills, and rental car out of their own pocket.
Consult With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you have questions about rental car coverage, uninsured motorist protection, or any other car accident related question, you can always call us. We will answer your questions without charging you an attorney fee. In fact, we offer a FREE 5-Point Case Evaluation to help you understand your case, and your options after an accident. Knowing what to do is always the first step in protecting your rights. Call us today at (210) 910-4357 to get started.