Rental car Versus Loss of Use
The at-fault driver owes the cost of a temporary substitute vehicle provided during the course of your vehicle repairs. The liability insurance company is legally required to begin providing a rental only after they have investigated the collision and determined that their insured driver was solely at fault for the collision. If you need a rental before they have completed the investigation, you can pay for the rental car early and seek reimbursement at a later point. Please be careful to pay only standard insurance rental rates if you personally rent a vehicle expecting reimbursement.
Enterprise Car Rental is the leading provider of insurance rentals in North Carolina. If you work with their office, they can provide you with the daily rate for insurance rentals. If you prefer another rental provider, make sure that they are willing to honor the current insurance industry daily rate. Once fault is accepted, most liability insurance carriers will allow a direct bill rental. Here, the insurance carrier provides the rental vehicle with very little paperwork, and they pay directly so there is no need for you to pay first and await reimbursement.
Collision coverage on your own auto policy will transfer to a rental during periods of breakdown or repair. However, if you do not have collision coverage on your damaged auto, you will have to personally pay for the collision damage waiver (CDW). The CDW covers damage to the rental car during the rental period. Unfortunately, if your car was damaged by another driver, but you did not have collision coverage, you remain personally obligated to pay for the CDW. Under North Carolina law, if you do not have collision coverage at the time of the accident, the law perceives providing a rental car with collision coverage as betterment. Therefore, the liability insurance carrier is not legally required to pay for the CDW charges. If you cannot afford the CDW, you should forego the rental car and instead collect cash payment for loss of use.
As you consider whether to pay additional daily expenses for the collision damage waiver on the rental car, you should look first to see if you already have this coverage. If your vehicle carried collision coverage at the time of the accident, your collision policy covers the rental car during the period where your vehicle is out of service due to damage and repairs. Thus, you are already insured! Also, many premium credit cards carry CDW coverage when you use that credit card to pay for rental coverage. American Express Gold and several premium Visa and MasterCard accounts provide this benefit. Check with your credit card provider, and if this service is available, you automatically receive CDW coverage with no daily charge whatsoever.
If you prefer not to receive a rental car, you have the option instead to collect for loss of use. A loss of use claim allows you to collect compensation because you are deprived of access and use of your own vehicle. This is a cash payment in lieu of a rental car, and most insurers will pay $15 to $25 per day for loss of use. If you have access to another vehicle and can avoid a rental, this is an excellent way to collect additional money above the total loss payment or vehicle repair cost.