Towing and Storage Charges
The insurance carrier handling the total loss claim will be responsible for costs of towing your vehicle from the accident scene. If the vehicle is taken to a wrecker yard, the wrecker service is allowed to charge a storage fee for each day that thevehicle remains on their property. Once the adjuster determines your vehicle is a total loss, they will ask for your permission to move the vehicle to a storage free area. You should make sure that all personal belongings are removed from the vehicle immediately and allow the insurance carrier to move the vehicle.
You do not give up rights of possession or ownership by allowing the insurance carrier to move the vehicle. Rather, you are honoring your legal obligation to mitigate damages by cooperating with allowing the vehicle to be placed in an area where daily charges (typically $25.00 per day) are not accruing for unnecessary storage. The insurance carrier must seek your permission before moving the vehicle. The insurance carrier will be responsible for this second tow charge. You may also elect to have the vehicle moved to your property if you prefer. However, this would require a third tow charge, which will be your responsibility if you do not retain the salvage vehicle at the conclusion of the total loss claim.
Rental Car Obligations
North Carolina law is not generous in allowing rental car coverage in total loss claims. If the vehicle is repaired, they must keep you in a rental for the entire duration of the repair process. In a total loss claim, the insurance carrier is only required to keep you in a rental up to the date that they tender an offer on the total loss. Tender is a legal term that means make the money available. Common practice is to only allow a rental for three business days after the date that the adjuster verbally conveys an offer by telephone. While some insurance carriers will agree to extend the rental for a longer period of time, they are not legally required to do so. If you had to wait for a rental at the beginning of the claim, you may be able to seek the additional days of rental car payment at the end of the total loss process.
As soon as you learn that your vehicle will be handled as a total loss, you should immediately begin looking for another vehicle. Also, if you are able to borrow or use another vehicle in your household, you can forego the rental vehicle and instead collect a cash payment for loss of use. Insurance carriers will typically pay $15.00 to $25.00 per day over the same period of time that they would owe for a rental car. This additional payment will be added to your total loss payment, and this additional money may help you to purchase a replacement vehicle.