rental car after a wreck

How Do I Get a Rental Car After a Wreck

If there is one thing we Texans are heavily dependent on, it is our vehicles. Communities up north can rely more on public transportation, but not us Texans. We drive ourselves. And we’re proud of it!  So, as a Texan, when you’ve been in a wreck, one of the first things you think about – after dealing with your injuries, if any – is how do I get a rental car?

In this blog, we address many question people often have when it comes to getting a rental vehicle after a wreck. However, as most people know, things don’t often work out as they should.  And when you throw insurance companies in the mix, curveballs can be expected.  If you still have questions after reading the following information, feel free to give us a call at the office for some free advice. (817) 820-0100.

Question 1 – When someone else caused the wreck and they have insurance, how do I go about getting a rental?

Answer:  You should be able to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company immediately following the wreck. So long as the insurance company accepts liability, they will usually have you in a rental vehicle within a day or two.

In order to file a claim, you call the insurance company for the at-fault party to begin the claim process. But be careful when you talk to the at-fault party’s insurance company. It will look for every opportunity to deny your claim. For more information on how to deal with insurance company’s follow this link.

Question 2 – Why wouldn’t the insurance company for the at-fault party accept liability you ask?

Answer:  The simple answer is insurance companies look for every opportunity they can find to deny paying you what you are owed.

You could be absolutely certain that the other person was at fault. Say they rear-ended you. Unfortunately, following a wreck, some people have a tendency to want to shirk responsibility. Maybe they tell their insurance company that you pulled in front of them right before they rear-ended you or that you slammed on your breaks. If the insurance company for the at-fault party can find any reason to find you at fault, it will. Moreover, if they find fault, they pretty much always deny you a rental vehicle.

Question 3 – What do I do if the Insurance Company for the at-fault party refuses to provide me a rental?

Answer 1: You fight them (not literally):

You have to prove that you weren’t at fault for the wreck. Here are some things we would do if you hired us to help you.  But you’re absolutely capable of doing them on your own:

  • Collect the police report.
    • If it shows the other person was at fault, send it to the insurance company for the at-fault party.
    • If it’s incorrect, see if you can get it corrected by the officer
  • Talk to the officer who wrote the report
    • See if he will give written statement saying the other person was at fault
  • Take recorded interviews of witnesses
    • When liability is disputed, we often track down and interview witnesses to the wreck. People are usually willing to cooperate if you’ll go to them on their schedule. Ask them if its ok if you video record the interview or audio recorded statement.

Answer 2:  You can front the money for the rental and seek reimbursement later.  (See Question 10 for information about our financial assistance program)

Under Texas law, technically the at-fault party has to compensate the other for a rental vehicle. Yes, technically the at fault party and not their insurance. To understand this better, read about “Direct v. Non-Direct Action States.” If the at-fault party’s insurer declines to pay for a rental, you must file suit against the at-fault party and get a trial verdict against them before you can “force” their insurer to pay you for a rental.

Insurance companies understand this law and use it to their advantage. They deny the claim hoping you’ll go away. And since there is a limit for how much they are on the hook for when it comes to a rental (see question 6 below), they don’t really care if they get stuck with the bill later after you file suit and win.

Question 4: Will my insurance company pay for a rental car for me since I wasn’t at fault?

Answer: That depends. If you have rental coverage, your insurance company will typically pay for a rental car for you. Your insurance will then have a subrogated right to go after the insurance company for the at-fault party for reimbursement for the amount it paid for your rental vehicle.

If you don’t have rental insurance, then generally no, your insurance company will not pay for a rental car for you. However, if you have uninsured motorist coverage (but not rental coverage) and you are involved in a hit and run, you insurance company should provide you a rental.  If they don’t, call us.  This could be bad faith and you can sue them for it.

Question 5: What if the insurance company for the at-fault party won’t provide me a rental vehicle and I don’t have rental coverage?

Answer: This is a tough situation and a very unfair one at that. You can front the costs yourself and hope to collect it later. If the insurance company for the at-fault party is denying a rental, it’s probably because their insured is saying that you’re at fault.

If you weren’t at fault for the wreck, you’re ultimately entitled to a reimbursement for a rental car. But, if the insurance company for the at-fault party is denying you reimbursement, you may have to file suit against the at-fault party and take them to to trial to collect. For more information on why you have to sue the at-fault party and not their insurance, read about “What is a Direct Action State.”

Also see Question 10 to see if you qualify for our financial assistance plan.

Question 6 – How Long Do I Get a Rental for After a Car Wreck?

Answer: That depends. Was your car totaled or is it repairable?

If Your Car Is Repairable…

If your car is repairable, you are entitled to a rental period for the time it takes to repair you vehicle.

Unfortunately, when an insurance company is paying for your rental, they seem to think that mechanics and body shops work 24 hours a day. Accordingly, they often give you a rental vehicle for much less time than you need.

If Your Car is Totaled…

If you car is totaled, you are entitled to a rental vehicle for the time it takes to find a replacement vehicle.

This is pretty new law in Texas. Prior to January 8, 2016, the law was unclear about whether you were entitled to a rental vehicle in the event your vehicle was deemed a total loss, aka, totaled. Now, according to the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in J&D Towing, LLC v American Alt. Ins. Corp., 478 S.W.3d 649, (Tex. 2016), you are entitled to a rental vehicle in the same class as the vehicle that was totaled for a period of time required to obtain replacement property.

Insurance companies are usually slow to follow the law, so don’t be surprised if an insurance company tells you you’re not entitled to a rental vehicle because your vehicle was deemed a total loss.

Question 7 – What Kind of Rental Car Can I Get?

Answer: Under Texas law, you are entitled to a rental car in the same class as your vehicle. So no, you can’t go rent a corvette.

Question 8 – Can I Chose Any Rental Car Company I Want?

Answer: This depends. Typically the insurance company that is paying for your rental will have a relationship with a rental car company they want you to use. If the insurance is paying for your rental, don’t rock the boat. Go with who they suggest. However, take note, that when it comes to having your car repaired, we do not suggest that you use who the insurance company suggests.

Question 9 – Am I entitled to a rental vehicle if I am not the owner of the vehicle I was Driving in the Wreck?

Answer: No. The driver of the vehicle is not entitled to a rental car. The owner is though.

Question 10 – What if I need financial help getting a rental car after a wreck?

Answer: Call Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC.  Sometimes our clients qualify for our financial assistance program. We’ll help get you in a rental vehicle and wait to get paid back after we resolve your case. You can reach us (817)820-0100 or fill out a free case evaluation form online. 

 

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