UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you are involved in an accident that was your fault, then your insurance company should step in to pay for the damage that you caused in the collision, as well as to pay for any damage to your own car and the repairs that need to be carried out.
This is what auto insurance is for and this is the reason that it’s so important to take out insurance. As a driver, you are in charge of an incredibly powerful piece of machinery that could feasibly cause a serious injury or even a death. By taking out insurance, you should that you are responsible for that vehicle and that you are able to pay for any damage you cause. Without this insurance, you could end up inflicting more damage than you could cover and that in turn could leave the injured party with significant costs to pick up and no one to help.
But there are other factors to consider after an accident too – like the practical aspect of now being left without a car. This then raises the question of who will pay for the rental car while your vehicle is undergoing repairs at the body shop.
And as is usually the case, the answer to this question depends on numerous factors.
Who Covers Rental Vehicles?
If you get into an accident and are left without a means of transportation while your car is in the shop, then it is a policy offered by some auto insurers to make sure that you still have a means of getting around and thereby to provide a rental car.
However, this isn’t always the case and it will usually depend on the nature of your cover, which will be outlined in the fine print of your policy. If you’re unsure, then the best way to find out is to look at your policy and to comb through it to see if there is mention of a rental car.
Most basic car insurance policies will not include car rentals in their price. However, many will offer it as an optional addition if you need it and this will normally slightly increase your premiums.
Other companies might offer to arrange for a hire car while yours is being repaired but won’t actually pay for it. Or in some cases, they might pay for the majority while requiring you to pay an excess just as you would do on your regular insurance.
The other thing to consider is the nature of the car. Some insurance companies will offer a luxury vehicle, while others will offer a more basic model – perhaps with the option to pay for an upgrade should you decide you want it.
It’s also worth noting that this is an option that can be offered by roadside assistance insurers too. These of course are companies that will repair your car on the road side or take it to the garage if you have a breakdown far from home. Again, whether or not you receive a rental car while yours is being repaired will all depend on the nature of the insurer and the specific policy that you opted to take out.
Should You Get A Car Rental Included?
With that in mind, it’s up to you to decide if you want to get a car rental included in your insurance policy. The answer will very much depend on your current circumstances and on the cost of the hire car, as well as the features that come with that car.
This is why it’s always a good idea to use price comparison sites. This way, you can take a look at the rates offered by different auto insurance firms and then see how the quotes vary when you add a car rental or remove it.
If you decide that you can afford the car rental, you then need to think about your current circumstances. If you have two cars and you don’t often need one of them, then you can always use that secondary vehicle as your main vehicle when your car is in the body shop.
Failing that, some people might be able to cope well without a car rental simply thanks to their circumstances. Perhaps you live near to where you work and are fine to commute on foot, maybe you have a super market just down the road from you, maybe you have a friend who would be able to provide lifts – or even provide you with a car for free.
Consider as well how much it would cost to rent a car from a car rental agency for a few days or even weeks. Compare this price to the additional cost of the car rental on top of your insurance and then decide whether it’s a good value proposition.
Conclusions and Caveats About Rental Car Reimbursement
Ultimately, every car insurance company is different and whether or not you get a rental car included in the price is going to be at their discretion. In many cases though, you’ll have the option to choose yourself if you want to add the car to your policy or leave it.
Note that there are also some interesting caveats and exceptional circumstances. For example, if you left your car in the auto body shop and it’s taking a lot longer than anticipated, then you might be entitled to a vehicle from the auto body shop itself. Take a look at the website and you’ll find that many offer to ‘help’ with a rental car as part of the concierge service. Of course this is a phrasing that is intentionally open to interpretation but it is worth inquiring.
And of course when you are not the at-fault party in the accident, then you might be entitled to compensation from the other party. However, you will normally be responsible for arranging and funding the car rental until the dispute has been settled and it is agreed that you were not the blame.