Updated February 1, 2024 by Sean McQuaid
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident in Florida, you likely have questions about whether you can get a rental car. Perhaps you tried to get a rental car, but are having problems with the insurance company? If so, you are experiencing the frustrating part of how insurance companies in Florida handle rentals.
This article will explain how to get a rental car. It will answer which insurance company should pay for your rental vehicle, and for how long.
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident that was not your fault, you have the right to a rental car paid for by the at-fault insurance carrier. Under the Florida Department of Insurance rules and regulations, you are entitled to a vehicle of a similar size and class to the one that was damaged in the accident.
How to Get a Rental Car after an Accident if You Cannot Wait
Option 1- You Have Rental Coverage on Your Policy
If you have rental coverage on your own car insurance policy and you cannot wait, we recommend using your own rental coverage to immediately get a vehicle. This is a benefit that you have paid for and are entitled to. Your adjuster will be able to provide more information about the details of your policy. Don’t worry- this will not raise your rates.
Option 2- You Do Not Have Rental Coverage on Your Policy
If you do not have rental coverage on your own policy, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your rental. But, here’s the catch- if you decide to use the at-fault driver’s insurance for the rental, you will have to wait for their coverage investigation/liability determination to be completed before they will give you one. This delay can cause a lot of frustration. This is why we suggest using your own rental coverage if available because the process for the at-fault coverage to complete this investigation can be lengthy. Our clients report to us that cut-rate companies like Ocean Harbor, Dairyland, and The General all delay this part of the process, often frustrating your ability to get a rental car in a timely manner.
What Happens if the Repairs take Longer?
If you have elected to get a rental through your own insurance company, but due to whatever reason, you still do not have your car back, you can switch to the at-fault driver’s policy. This comonly happens when the repairs take longer than your coverage will allow.
Who Pays for Your Rental Car?
If you use your own car insurance to obtain your rental vehicle, your company will seek reimbursement for this expense through the at-fault party’s coverage. This is an insurance vs insurance matter and you will not be involved.
If your insurance policy does not include rental car coverage and the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not paying upfront, then you may have to pay for all costs out-of-pocket. Make sure that you record all incurred rental car costs, as you will need these to be properly compensated when we file your demand for damages.
If you are willing to wait and the at-fault party has a valid Florida policy, they will afford the rental at no cost to you.
How Long Can You Keep a Rental Car? Can You Extend It?
How long you are able to keep your rental generally depends on how long it takes for your property damage to be paid for/repaired. You will be able to keep your rental while the damage is being repaired but if your vehicle is deemed a total loss and you accept the insurance companies offer, once you receive that payment you usually only have 3-5 days before the rental will need to be returned.
Do Not Wait to Return Your Rental Car
Return your rental car as soon as your vehicle has been repaired. Any additional days that you have the rental car after the body shop has completed the repairs you will be responsible to pay. Insurance will not cover the additional days costs.
Do Not Upgrade Your Rental Car
Insurance policies that include rental car coverage will only compensate you for the cost to rent a “comparable vehicle.” If the vehicle damaged in the accident was a small economical car and you chose to upgrade your rental to a Mercedes, the insurance will only cover the cost to rent a small economical vehicle. You will be responsible to pay the difference in price between the two different class vehicles.
Should You Buy Rental Car Insurance?
This is your choice. Think about what will happen if you get into another accident when in the rental car. Your insurance company isn’t going to give you any extra coverage just because they set you up with a rental car. You are still on the hook if you get into another accident. So, it might be wise to buy a little extra coverage to protect yourself in a worst case situation.
The rental car company will usually offer four types of coverage:
- · Collision Damage Waiver
- · Liability Coverage
- · Personal Accident Insurance
- · Personal Effects Coverage
The coverages that are most important are collision, liability, and bodily injury. If you are confused, ask the agent. You can also ask us for an opinion. We are also happy to help give advice about which insurance company to choose.
Loss of Use Compensation Due to Their Delay
If the at-fault insurance company delays your ability to obtain a rental vehicle, you may be entitled to loss of use compensation. Generally, we are able to get our clients reimbursed between $30-$80 per day each day they are without a rental. Reimbursements can vary depending on the amount of property damage coverage available and the make/model of your personal vehicle.
If You Are Injured, Seek Legal Advice
Getting a rental car after an accident can be time-consuming, frustrating, and confusing. You probably lost money on the whole issue over your car. The best way to make that money back is to file a claim for your injuries.
If you are fighting with the insurance company, or just have questions about whether you have a case, we advise that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. There is no cost in getting advice about how to protect yourself and recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free case review.