If you were involved in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, one of the things their insurance company has to do is put you in a rental car. Unfortunately, there are a lot of different internal policies that all insurance companies follow before taking care of you. Oftentimes their timeline for getting you in a rental car does not match up with the urgency that you feel. At McKinney Vos PLLC, we know how important it is for you to get into a rental car as soon as possible. We recognize that your life stops without transportation and we’re here to help.
Before the insurance company pays for a rental car – or anything else for that matter - they need to establish insurance coverage and liability for the accident. First, they will review the policy and payment history to make sure there was active insurance coverage on the day of the crash over the driver and vehicle involved. If the driver that caused the accident was late on a payment or specifically excluded from the policy itself, then there will be no insurance coverage. The insurance company can also deny coverage if the other driver refuses to cooperate with their investigation or return their calls. In either scenario, the adjuster will simply deny your claim. In that scenario, it doesn't matter if the other party caused the accident because the insurance company is not legally obligated to do anything about it without an active policy.
Once a claim is filed and coverage is established, the insurance company will move on to the second question of liability. To answer this, they will perform a complete investigation of the crash. Their investigation includes taking statements from all parties involved and any witnesses. The adjuster will also review photographs of the property damage and the scene itself. Sometimes the investigation also includes a physical scene inspection along with a review of any surveillance or dashcam videos. The investigation can take several days or weeks to complete depending on the complexity of the crash. This is usually the source of delay for getting you into a rental car. While it might be frustrating to wait for them to complete their process, they are entitled to several weeks to get it done. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to try and hurry them along!
It’s important to consistently follow-up with the insurance company because they will not pay for your vehicle to get fixed or for you to be in a rental car until after they have completed this process. Unfortunately, the process could take several weeks to complete, and we know how frustrating that is! That’s why you want an attorney on your side, getting the insurance company the information that they need in order to expedite the process.
We do our own investigation of what happened. We gather witness statements, compile photographs of the scene and property damage, and review any surveillance video or dashcam video that might be available. Armed with all the evidence we've gathered; we repeatedly contact the insurance companies until they agree to accept liability. Adjusters often have hundreds of open claims on their desks at any given time and if you don't stay on top of them your case will be left behind. Once the investigation is complete and the adjuster has accepted liability, then the insurance company will take steps to remove it from the tow yard, begin repairs, and/or put you in a rental car.
To expedite the process, it’s important to know where your vehicle is located. Is your car with you and drivable? Is it at the shop being fixed? Is it in a tow yard? If you don’t know where your car is, you need to trace things back to the wreck to try and find out. If you couldn’t drive your car from the scene of the accident, then a tow truck must have taken it to a tow yard. The police will know which tow company got involved. If you have a copy of the police report, you should see the identity and location of the tow yard underneath your information. If you don’t have the report, you can call the police department and they’ll point you in the right direction.
If your car is in the tow yard, you’ll want to get a move on things right away! Every day that your car sits in a tow yard, you start incurring storage fees. If you are not proactive about either paying those fees or getting your car out of the tow yard as soon as possible, then you may be responsible for some of those charges. The insurance company will certainly pay a portion of them, but you also have a legal duty to mitigate your damages in order to maximize your in-pocket savings from the insurance company.
If the other driver accepts fault right away or if facts of the accident are objectively straightforward, then the insurance company's investigation should only take a day or two. If that's the case, then they should pay for all the storage fees without exposing you to any potential charges. If there are a lot of parties involved in the crash or if the other driver blames you for what happened, then the investigation will take longer to complete. A longer investigation means higher storage fees that you may be on the hook for.
The best way to make sure you’ve met your duty to mitigate damages is to remove the car from the tow yard as quickly as possible. If you have collision coverage with your car insurance company, then you can open a claim with your carrier to take care of the property damage. They will remove the vehicle from a tow yard and start the process to either repair the car or have it appraised for the total loss offer. If you choose to go through your insurance company, you will be responsible for your deductible upfront, but they will go after the other insurance company to get their money back as well as your deductible.
We've seen the games that insurance companies play. We understand the importance of immediate action and persistence. If you have questions or need help, give McKinney Vos a call today.