In the aftermath of an accident, you may be left without a usable car, or with one in dire need of repair. Who should pay for the car, for the rental, for the cell phone that was ruined in the accident? The short answer is that the insurance for the person who caused the accident should pay for all of those things, but the long answer of course is nothing is that easy. Some of the issues involved in that discussion are condition of the car, total loss vs. repair, coverage available, and rental coverage.
How do I get a rental?
A rental is not automatic under Kentucky law. The at fault party is actually legally responsible for “loss of use” of the vehicle. If the car is not drivable after the accident, or not street legal–such as when tail lights don’t work–then you should get into a rental as soon as possible because you have already “lost the use” of the car. If your own insurance has rental coverage, you are entitled to that benefit right away. If you are going to go through the other driver’s insurance, they will typically give you a rental rather than pay for “loss of use”–but only after you have been able to obtain insurance information from the at fault driver or the police report to put them on notice and allow them to confirm their obligations. That process can take a few days.
Timing of a rental is a little different if the car is drivable and street legal after the accident because the car is still “usable” –and the at fault party does not owe you a rental until it is not usable. Loss of use claims are limited to the reasonable and necessary expenses for the time necessary to repair or replace the damaged vehicle. If the damaged car is still drivable, you do not usually obtain a rental car until the car is actually in the shop for repairs, because it is deemed usable up to that point. If your own insurance has rental coverage, you can use that right away, too, but that coverage typically has limits–as in up to $900 or up to 30 days–that make it wise to wait for repairs to be started as well.