Auto Accident Rights & Responsibilities – Repair Costs and Rental Car

Who Pays Repair Costs and the Costs of a Rental Car?

The accident was my fault

  • When you caused the accident, you are responsible for repairing your own vehicle and the other vehicle that you damaged. Assuming you are insured, your company will pay for the damages to the other vehicle up to your policy limits.
  • If you have “collision coverage” under your policy, you will also be covered for repairs to your vehicle up to the amount of your coverage. You will likely have a deductible of $500 or $1,000. You should not have to pay more than your deductible if you have full collision coverage.
  • When you caused the accident, your right to a rental car is subject to the terms of your insurance policy. If you purchased rental reimbursement coverage, you will be covered for a rental car. Most insurers can set up direct billing with the rental car company.

Check with your insurance company or insurance agent regarding your coverage.

The accident was NOT my fault 

  • If someone else caused the accident, that person’s insurance company (if the other person is injured) should pay for the cost of repairs. You should not have to pay anything.
  • You are entitled to take your vehicle to a repair shop of your choice for repairs. If you were injured, you should consult with an attorney before communicating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company about repairs.
  • If the other person was not insured, but was at fault, you should use your own insurance. Your company will later undertake efforts to get its money back through a  process known as subrogation.

What is Loss of Use?

  • If someone else was at fault, you are also entitled to compensation for the loss of use of your property. That means either:
  • The use of comparable rental vehicle (i.e. a full-size truck if you were driving a full-size truck); or
  • Reasonable compensation for the loss of the use of your vehicle if you do not get a rental.  Generally, “reasonable compensation” means the amount you would have to spend for a rental car for the period of time necessary to settle your claim or repair your vehicle.

TIP:

Insurance companies are generally eager to cut claim costs whenever possible. This is why you may be pressured to take your car to the insurance company’s direct repair shop. Don’t let the insurance company steer you away from an independent repair shop. 

What happens when the accident was someone else’s fault, but the other drivers insurance company will not accept liability or the other driver did not have insurance?

  • When fault cannot be determined (i.e. the parties have conflicting accounts of the accident) or the other driver had no insurance, you should proceed with repairs through your own insurance policy.
  • If you have no collision coverage on your policy, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the cost of repairs.

I Wasn’t At Fault, But Had to Use My Own Insurance. Can We Get that Money Back?

  • After your insurance company pays for your repairs, it will likely seek reimbursement through a process known as “subrogation”. In a subrogation claim, the insurance company essentially steps into your shoes and brings a claim against the other driver in effort to get its money back. If successful, your insurance company will be reimbursed and you should also be reimbursed for your deductible.
  • In some accidents, fault is uncertain. In other words, both parties may share in responsibility. Thus, it may be found that one party 80% responsible and the other is 20% responsible. If this happens, damages will be apportioned accordingly.
  • If you paid for your own damages and rental car because you had no collision coverage, you may wish to bring a claim against the at-fault party for reimbursement. For more information on this process, consult with an attorney.

Remember

You have the right to have your vehicle repaired at a facility of your choice!

YOUR CAR, YOUR CHOICE

Don’t let an insurance company take away your rights.

Message brought to you by

Auto Body Association of CT & Buckley Wynne & Parese