- Will My Insurance Company Provide Me with a Rental Car Following My Accident?
Will My Insurance Company Provide Me with a Rental Car Following My Accident?
The short answer to that question — it depends on your auto insurance policy. If you purchased rental car reimbursement and towing coverage, as outlined by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, you should be fine. But you first must have that coverage in place before your accident. If you don’t, you’ll be out of luck. And these days, even if you’re covered by a solid insurance policy, there can also be some unanticipated hurdles to overcome. In fact, finding a rental car has almost never been more challenging — or more expensive — than it has been lately. The COVID-19 pandemic, rental car company bankruptcies, shipping and supply chain issues, in addition to global computer chip shortages have caused a scarcity of rental car availability both here in Michigan and across the country.
If you’re unlucky enough to experience an accident, you could find yourself in the same situation even now, although insurance companies are reported to be working with car rental firms to eliminate the rental vehicle supply bottleneck. According to ValuePenguin.com, Geico Insurance has made arrangements with Enterprise for direct billing when its customers need rentals to temporarily replace their damaged vehicles. Additionally, Allstate and State Farm have reportedly arranged discounts for their customers with Hertz (which emerged from its short-lived bankruptcy earlier this year and was recently reported to be acquiring 100,000 electric cars from Tesla to bolster its rental fleet).
A global, rental vehicle shortage is frustrating in itself… but it pales in comparison to the frustration of needing a rental car to fulfill the responsibilities of daily life and being denied access to one. And while efforts are being made to increase rental vehicle availability in the supply chain, you may still encounter plenty of obstacles when trying to acquire one after a car accident.
What Should I Do if I Need a Rental Vehicle After My Accident?
There are several things to remain cognizant of when looking for a replacement vehicle following a car accident. To ease the frustration that accompanies such unfortunate events, we’ve broken down some details to keep in mind that will hopefully help lessen those rental car woes. We hope you never need to utilize this information, but you will be well-prepared in the event you do!
Immediately contact your insurance company. If you have rental reimbursement coverage, your local agent should be able to assist you in finding a rental car. Most standard car insurance policies offer the option to pay extra for rental coverage which is usually very affordable — only an additional dollar or two per month on your policy. Unfortunately, most drivers do not elect to purchase this additional coverage because they don’t think they’ll ever require it. With Michigan recently being ranked the most dangerous state for winter driving, we urge you to reconsider your current coverage if you don’t have this inexpensive protection — you’re probably much likelier to need it than you think.
Be aware of rental policy limitations — especially if you directly seek a rental car yourself. If your agent isn’t able to obtain a rental, you may locate a car on your own and seek reimbursement later from your insurer. But be sure to check with your agent first to make sure this expense will be covered, otherwise you may be on the hook for any fees incurred. Most rental car reimbursement policies have limitations on how long you can keep the replacement vehicle. This limit extends usually up to 30 days or so, but that can vary depending on your insurance company.
Contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If another driver is liable for your accident and you’re unable to cover your rental costs, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider to supply you with a rental until your vehicle has returned from the shop. You also may qualify for rental car reimbursement by the at-fault driver’s insurer later on in the claim or lawsuit process. However, you may have to front the cash for the rental — and reimbursement is not always guaranteed. If you do choose to pursue a rental car or rental car reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurer, make sure you only give them the information needed to process the rental paperwork. Without having your own attorney present, it’s almost always ill-advised to discuss the facts of the accident, your injuries, your employment history, your driving record, etc. with your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Insurance adjusters are oftentimes trained to ask questions that yield positive outcomes for the company and cast claimants in an unflattering light, so do not be swayed by any attempts to get you to engage. Furthermore, an insurance provider may also state it needs to speak to its customer, the at-fault insured, prior to accepting responsibility for your rental. If the at-fault insured lies about the accident details, dodges their insurance company’s calls, or is otherwise uncooperative, this could significantly impede your entire claim and access to a rental vehicle.
Contact the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. If you believe you are being treated unfairly by your insurer or the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, this regulatory, state agency may be able to provide some relief. While they encourage you to resolve issues by directly dealing with your agent or the company itself, DFIS has a toll-free number you can call to obtain assistance, 877-999-6442. You can also file a complaint with DFIS using their official online form to document your issue and seek assistance resolving your problem. Furthermore, the Michigan Attorney General’s office has its own online form for consumers to file complaints, and also includes the ability to register problems that may arise when dealing with automobile warranty and service contract claims.
Consult an attorney. If all else fails, and you’ve experienced injuries or financial loss due to an accident that was not your fault, a reputable law firm can help. Attorneys are not allowed to provide auto accident clients with money to rent a car, but they can certainly negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf to provide you with a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. Should you find yourself in need of such negotiation, our dedicated legal team at the Mike Morse Law Firm is available day or night at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946), or online 24/7.