Who pays for the rental car after an accident in NJ?

September 19, 2020 | Chris Costello, Esq.
When accident repairs put your vehicle in the shop, the liable insurance company may pay for your rental car. However, there is no guarantee of this. If another driver caused the crash, that person’s insurance company (the liability carrier) may provide you with a rental car as a courtesy. If they do not get you a rental car you can request reimbursement for your out of pocket rental expenses. When accident repairs put your vehicle in the shop, the liable insurance company may pay for your rental car. However, there is no guarantee of this. If another driver caused the crash, that person’s insurance company (the liability carrier) may provide you with a rental car as a courtesy. If they do not get you a rental car you can request reimbursement for your out of pocket rental expenses. 

In cases where you are the victim of a hit-and-run or the insurance company decides you are at fault, your car insurance company may provide you with a rental if you have this coverage option in your policy. You may also rely on your insurance company to provide the rental if the liable insurance carrier does not provide a vehicle or does so slowly. Often individuals will choose to work with their own carrier as they are typically quicker to respond than the liability carrier.

What Insurance Coverage Includes Rental Car Coverage?

If you have a NJ basic car insurance policy as required by the state it is likely you do not have rental expense reimbursement. You should check your policy’s declaration page or contact your agent to confirm. Typically individuals who have a  NJ standard insurance policy will have some type of rental car or transportation expense reimbursement. Again, you should check your policy’s declaration page or contact your agent to confirm if you have this coverage add-on.

How Does Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage Work?

Before deciding if you should add rental car reimbursement to your insurance policy, it is important to determine if the cost is worth the benefits. To determine this, you need an understanding of how the rental reimbursement add-on works as part of your policy. Here are the main points to keep in mind:

  • Insurance rental car after accident coverage can cost as little as $2 per month or as much as $15 per month.
  • When drivers make a claim against this policy add-on, insurance policies pay up to a certain amount each day and in total.
  • It is common to see a daily max of $30 and a total max of $900 for insurance policies.If your selected rental car is less than the daily max it is likely you will not have to front any costs for the rental. However, if you choose a more expensive or fancier vehicle you will need to pay the difference between the insurance’s daily max and the actual daily cost of the rental car.

Note that filing a claim against your own insurance policy may cause the premium to increase. Because of this, it is a good idea to get the liable carrier to pay whenever possible.

When Does the Liable Insurance Carrier Pay for a Car Rental?

The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance recommends asking the claims adjuster about getting a rental vehicle while processing your claim. However, drivers may need to wait until the insurance companies determine/confirm the at-fault driver and process a claim before they fund an alternative method of transportation.

When it comes to deciding who pays for a rental car after an accident, the state website confirms that once the company determines who is at least 50% responsible for the accident, the liability insurance carrier must pay for substitute transportation. This does not specify a rental car, but that is the most likely option. The liability carrier also does not need to pay for you to rent a vehicle of equal value, status or capability.

It is important to note that the carrier may only need to pay in accordance with the at-fault driver’s percentage share of the accident. For instance, say the insurance companies determine that you are 30% responsible for the accident. You paid $100 for the three days you needed a rental. The liable carrier may only have to pay $70 as their insured was only 70% at fault for the collision.

If your vehicle is still drivable after the accident, the liable carrier may decide to reimburse you only for the days your car was in the shop for repairs, this is called “loss of use.” In cases where the insurance company writes off the vehicle, the carrier may reimburse you for all the days you were without a vehicle until you settle the property damage portion of your claim.

How Do You Get a Rental Car After an Accident?

There are many options available to you for getting a rental car. In fact, some drivers dislike the delay with insurance companies or need a specific type of vehicle and may choose to rent one at their own expense. If you choose to go through the insurance company, your attorney may recommend the process below.

  1. Secure a Payment CommitmentInsurance companies may encourage you to get a rental car and say they will pay later on. However, it is always best to wait until you get something in writing, even if it is an email. Your attorney can advise you on how to secure a solid agreement before moving forward with renting a vehicle.
  2. Book Repairs and RentalsIf you can safely operate your vehicle, schedule your repairs before the rental. If your vehicle is not drivable, then schedule your rental as soon as you can. The ideal outcome is that you pick up your rental car at the same time you drop off your damaged car.
  3. Consider Extending the RentalWhen renting a vehicle, always ask the company about the possibility of an extension. You may need to take advantage of this if repairs take longer than the shop anticipated or there is a delay in shipment of parts needed for the repairs.

Can an Attorney Help Get Rentals?

An experienced attorney can review your case to help you present a claim that proves you are not responsible for the accident. This increases your chances of getting full rental car reimbursement. Insurance companies may also stall your case to frustrate you enough to let it go or settle for less. When you hire an attorney, insurance companies lose many of the opportunities to manipulate the law in their favor.

Should the insurance company remain stubborn, a personal injury lawyer can fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. This may involve negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or filing a personal injury suit.

If you have any questions on getting a rental car or need to consult with a civil attorney regarding your claim, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our expert car accident lawyers!

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris handles matters in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is an active member of the New Jersey Association for Justice as well as the Burlington County Bar Association. As a Burlington County personal injury lawyer, Mr. Costello has served as chairman of the Burlington County Bar Association Personal Injury Committee and lectured on topics related to auto accidents and insurance law.
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