Who Pays for a Rental Car After an Accident in Florida?
January 1, 2024 – Michael S. Herman, Jr., Esq.
Following up on our previous blog on “5 Things You Should Do and Not Do After a Jupiter Car Accident” we now tackle another crucial question often faced by individuals involved in car accidents in Florida: “Who pays for a rental car after an accident?” The answer, however, is not always straightforward.
Take the case of David, a resident of Jupiter, who found himself in a complex situation after his car was totaled in an accident. Despite having insurance, David encountered difficulties with both his own insurer and the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Left without a car to commute to work, he had to pay for a rental out of pocket before he sought legal assistance.
In this blog, we delve into the nuances of rental car coverage post-accident in Florida. Whether you’re lacking collision coverage, facing a denial from the at-fault driver’s insurer, or simply unsure of your next steps, we aim to provide clarity.
Plus, for those in need of immediate assistance, our team is here to help. Contact us at (561) 835-5555 for a FREE case evaluation. Keep reading to learn who bears the financial responsibility for a rental car after a Jupiter car accident beginning with your own insurance company.
Your Own Insurance Company
In Florida, you generally have to purchase separate rental coverage on your car insurance policy in order to be covered for a rental vehicle after a car accident. Simply having collision and comprehensive coverage will not cover your rental car under most Florida auto policies. Your rental car coverage likely only covers a like-in-kind vehicle, or may only cover up to a certain amount for a certain number of maximum days. We often see policies that include rental coverage with limits like “up to $30 per day” and “for a maximum of thirty days”. Some policies will pay for the rental car directly, while others are rental car reimbursement policies. The amount of coverage will depend on your policy, so it’s important to review the specifics about your coverage before getting a rental car. Oftentimes, your insurance company can set up the rental car for you once they verify coverage.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
What Does the Law Say? Florida law allows recovery of property damages from a negligent driver and includes rental car costs in the definition of damages. Florida Supreme Court Standard Civil Jury Instruction 501.2(h) specifically provides for recovery of property damage, including loss of use of property such as a motor vehicle. Florida Supreme Court Standard Civil Jury Instruction 501.2(h) states:
“h. Property damage:
Any damage to [his] [her] [its] (identify automobile or other personal property). The measure of such damage is:
[the difference between the value of the (name property) immediately before (incident complained of) and its value immediately afterward.]
[the reasonable cost of repair, if it was practicable to repair the (name property), with due allowance for any difference between its value immediately before the (incident complained of) and its value after repair.]
You shall also take into consideration any loss to (claimant) [for towing or storage charges and] by being deprived of the use of [his] [her] [its] (name property) during the period reasonably required for its [replacement] [repair].”
If the other driver was at fault for the accident and they have property damage coverage, their insurance company may cover the cost of your rental car. In Florida, this is called “loss of use” damage and is a type of property damage claim. Remember that you are entitled to a like-in-kind vehicle, meaning the same car that was damaged. If you had a luxury SUV, the insurance company cannot offer you a two door hatchback. They owe you the same car you lost. If you do not bother to get a rental car, you are likely still entitled to monetary damages for loss of use. For example, if your luxury SUV cost $400.00 a day to rent on average, then you should be entitled to $400 per day in damages for each day you did not have use of your vehicle (because it was being repaired or you were trying to replace it) regardless of whether you rented a car.
If your vehicle was damaged and is being repaired, you should be entitled to a rental car for the reasonable period of repair. If your vehicle was a total loss, you should be entitled to a rental car for the reasonable period of time it takes to replace your vehicle. However, insurance companies often delay or deny rental car claims, or try to offer you a vehicle that is lesser than the vehicle that was involved in the accident. Be sure to keep copies of all your rental receipts and communication with insurance adjusters.
There may also be issues with limited coverage, meaning there is not enough money on the at fault driver’s policy to cover your rental car. Florida only mandates $10,000.00 in property damage coverage at minimum by law. If a driver with the minimum of $10,000.00 causes an accident with property damage over $10,000.00, such as a total loss accident or an accident involving multiple vehicles, there may not be enough money left over for a rental car after repairs or replacement to damaged vehicles.
Self Pay with a Rental Car Company
If you don’t have rental car coverage on your insurance policy and the other driver’s insurance company denies your claim for a rental car, you can still rent a car from a rental car company out of pocket. Be sure to keep all the paperwork and receipts in case you need to seek reimbursement later.
Beware of Potential Out of Pocket Costs
Even if you have rental car coverage or if the other driver’s insurance company agrees to pay for your rental car, beware of potential out of pocket costs. Rental car companies will try to sell you extras like insurance, collision damage waivers, and other items with your rental car. Understand that in most cases these extras are not covered. While it may be prudent to purchase these additional coverages in certain circumstances, insurance companies generally only cover the cost of the rental car itself. Likewise, gasoline is the renter’s responsibility. Be aware of out of pocket expenses you may incur even where you do not have to pay for the rental car itself.
What Does the Law Say?
Florida Supreme Court Standard Civil Jury Instruction 501.2(h) allows a plaintiff to recover the difference between the value of property immediately before an automobile accident and its value after repair, i.e. “diminished value,” when caused by the negligence of another. Florida Supreme Court Standard Civil Jury Instruction 501.2(h) states:
“h. Property Damage. Any damage to [his] [her] [its] (identify automobile or other personal property). The measure of such damage is:
[the reasonable cost of repair, if it was practicable to repair the (name property), with due allowance for any difference between its value immediately before the (incident complained of) and its value after repair.]”
Legal Rights and Responsibilities
Understanding Your Rights
- After an accident in Florida, if you’re not at fault, options for securing a rental car depend on your own insurance coverage, the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, and your willingness to pay out-of-pocket and seek reimbursement later.
- If covered by insurance, you are entitled to reimbursement for your rental car expenses, up to the specific coverage limits set by your policy or the at-fault driver’s policy.
Understanding Your Responsibilities
- Report the Accident: Contact the police immediately for any accident with injuries or substantial property damage. Regardless of severity, inform your insurance company within the timeframe specified in your policy.
- File Claims Timely: Don’t delay! Submit any claims for damages, including rental car expenses, within the deadlines stated in your insurance policy.
- Mitigating Costs: Make reasonable efforts to keep expenses under control. Choose a rental car comparable to your own vehicle in terms of safety, size, and basic features. Avoid unnecessary upgrades or extended rentals.
Remember, always consult with a qualified legal professional or your insurance company for specific advice about your individual situation and applicable laws.
Tips for Dealing with Insurance Companies
- Understand Your Policy: Before you contact the insurance company, make sure you understand the specifics of your coverage.
- Documentation is Key: Keep detailed records of all correspondence with insurance companies, including dates, times, and summaries of conversations.
- Be Persistent but Patient: Insurance processes can be slow. Follow up regularly but allow time for processing.
- Negotiate: Don’t hesitate to negotiate with the insurance company, especially if you feel the compensation offered is not fair.
- Seek Legal Advice if Necessary: If you’re facing significant challenges or unfair practices, consulting with an attorney can be invaluable.
- Use Clear, Concise Communication: When discussing your claim, be clear and concise. Stick to the facts and avoid unnecessary details.
When to Consider Hiring an Attorney
Facing Challenges with Insurance Companies
If you’re experiencing difficulties in dealing with an insurance company after an accident, especially regarding rental car coverage, it might be time to consult a Jupiter car accident lawyer. Common challenges include denied claims, delayed responses, and offers that don’t adequately cover your expenses.
How an Attorney Can Help
- Experience in Insurance Law: Attorneys knowledgeable in insurance law can navigate the complex legal landscape, ensuring your rights are protected.
- Negotiation Skills: Lawyers are skilled negotiators who can communicate effectively with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement.
- Investigation and Evidence Gathering: An attorney can help gather crucial evidence to support your claim, such as accident reports, witness statements, and expert testimonies.
- Handling Paperwork and Legal Formalities: Dealing with insurance claims involves a lot of paperwork and legal procedures. An attorney can handle these aspects, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
- Contesting Denied Claims: If your claim has been unfairly denied, an attorney can challenge the decision and argue your case.
- Representation in Court: Should your case go to court, having legal representation is vital. An attorney will prepare and present your case, aiming for the best possible outcome.
When to Contact an Attorney
- After a Denied Claim: If your claim for a rental car or other damages is denied.
- If You’re Offered an Unfair Settlement: Before accepting any settlements that seem inadequate.
- When Facing Delays: If the insurance company is unreasonably delaying your claim.
While being involved in an accident can be overwhelming, knowing your options for rental car coverage can help ease the stress. Whether you have coverage through your own insurance policy, the other driver’s insurance policy, or a third-party rental car company, you can find a solution that will keep you on the road and able to go about your daily life. If you’re struggling to get coverage for a rental car after an accident, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice to ensure that your rights are protected.
Struggling with Rental Car Claims After a Florida Car Accident? Let Britto & Herman Injury Lawyers Assist You
After a car accident in Florida, managing rental car claims can be a hassle, especially when dealing with insurance companies. At Britto & Herman Injury Lawyers, we have over 25 years of combined experience in guiding clients through these challenges. Our team, led by Attorney Daniel Britto, a Board Certified Trial Lawyer, is committed to providing thorough and effective legal support to those affected by car accidents.
Attorney Britto’s Board Certification is a reflection of his dedication to legal practice and his ability to handle complex car accident cases successfully. When you turn to Britto & Herman, you’re getting more than just legal assistance; you’re gaining a team that’s recognized for their capability and track record in navigating the aftermath of car accidents.
We understand that dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be challenging, especially when they find reasons to deny your claim. That’s why we offer round-the-clock availability, virtual free case evaluations, and paperless sign-ups for your convenience. Our goal is to make your journey towards resolution as smooth as possible.
If you’re facing difficulties with your rental car claim, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call (561) 835-5555 or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation with a Jupiter personal injury attorney. At Britto & Herman Injury Lawyers, we can help you in moving forward after your accident.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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