After an Accident: Auto Damage and Rental Car Information
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident in Florida, you need to know your options for vehicle repairs, rentals, and replacements. The insurance covers most damages incurred in a car accident. Continue reading to find out when, where, and how to file your automobile property damage claim in the state of Florida, and what temporary transportation options are available to you.
What counts as property damage in a car accident?
Property damage in a car accident refers to any physical damages that occur as a result of an impact, collision, or any type of negligent act. Simply put, property damage claims should only include reports about vehicle damages or specific property losses.
For example, if you were rear-ended by a distracted driver and the trunk of your car was damaged, your property damage claim could potentially seek reimbursement for the vehicle damages and for any items, such as a laptop, that you may have had in your trunk at the time of the accident. Therefore, be sure your property damage claim is complete before you submit the report to your insurance company—you would hate to under-value your claim.
When to file a property damage claim after a car accident
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, the first and most important step is to check on the wellbeing of everyone involved. Next, call the police. If you want insurance to pay for your vehicle damages, you must have an official police report to submit to the insurance company.
As you wait for the police to arrive, we recommend using your phone to take photos of the entire accident scene, as well as collect any helpful information, such as names and telephone numbers of witnesses.
The following list contains some of the evidence that we find most useful in settling accident claims:
- Photos of vehicle damage
- Photos of traffic signs
- Videos of weather conditions
- Videos of road conditions
- Contact information of witnesses
- Notes of personal observations
Be careful to not file your claim too early.
Filing your claim too early or too late can seriously affect the outcome.
In the state of Florida, you have exactly four years from the date of the accident to submit a claim.
However, your property damage claim will most likely have a different deadline than your personal injury claim. So, if you did receive injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, contact a personal injury attorney immediately to make sure your timeline for compensation has not passed.
A helpful tip is to write down all dates related to your insurance claims.
Where to file your property damage claim
You will file your property damage claim with your insurance company. At that point, an adjuster from the insurance company will contact you about the accident and the reimbursement you are seeking. Be honest and truthful about the events, yet avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as admitting “fault” or “guilt”.
For example, if an insurance adjuster asks you where you were going on the day of the accident, don’t say you were “rushing” home, as the insurance company could try to use that against you when settling the claim.
Steps of a property damage claim
- Submit your property damage claim to your insurance company
- An adjuster from your insurance company will contact you directly to review your claim. He or she will schedule a time and place to appraise your vehicle damages. Adjusters will often take pictures and thoroughly inspect your vehicle before deciding a reimbursement value.
- At this point, the adjuster will suggest taking your damaged vehicle to a body shop that is approved by your insurance company. These are only suggestions. You can take your vehicle to the body shop of your preference.
- The adjuster will approve your vehicle repairs and will approve the use of a rental car as your temporary mode of transportation.
You have rights when dealing with insurance adjusters.
Don’t let insurance adjusters pressure you into using one of their repair shops or settling for a less money than you need and deserve.
You have the right to:
- Choose the body shop that repairs the damages to your vehicle;
- Reclaim your vehicle’s total value if it was lost;
- Fight any unfair claim denials or low-ball offers; and
- Use an insurance-covered rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.
How to get a rental car after an accident
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident that was not your fault, you have the right to a rental car paid for by the at-fault insurance carrier. Under the Department of Insurance rules and regulations, you are entitled to a vehicle of a similar size and class to the one that was damaged in the accident. Therefore, if you drove a truck before the accident, the insurance company owes you a truck, or something highly comparable.
Who pays for your rental car?
If you need a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your temporary transportation. However, very rarely will the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay for your rental car upfront. Sometimes, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay until a court settlement has been reached.
Therefore, it is best for you to go through your personal insurance, if you have a policy that will cover the rental car charges. Your adjuster will be able to provide more information about the details of your policy. Note, if you use your personal insurance to cover your rental car, you usually have only 30 days of coverage.
If your insurance policy doesn’t include rental car coverage and the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not paying upfront, then you may have to pay for all costs out-of-pocket. Make sure you record all incurred rental car costs, as you will need these to be properly compensated after your case settles.
Don’t make these common rental car mistakes:
- Don’t wait to return your rental car
Once your car has been repaired, return your rental car immediately. You will be charged for any additional days you use the rental car after the body shop has indicated all repairs have been completed.
- Don’t be tempted to upgrade your rental car
You will only be compensated for the cost of a comparable vehicle. If you drove a Honda Civic before the accident, you will be charged an additional fee if you choose to drive a BMW 3 Series.
- Don’t pay for unnecessary fees
When you go to pick up your rental car, the rental agency will give you the option to add insurance protection to your agreement. If your personal insurance policy does not already cover this charge (which most do!), then the at-fault insurance company is responsible to pay this fee. Rental car insurance could run you as much as $20 per day, so be sure you are not paying for this unnecessary fee.
Our complimentary claims services
If all of this sounds like a tedious ordeal, know that Darrigo, Diaz & Jimenez can handle the entire process for you as a complimentary service. From getting copies of your accident report from the police to arranging for your vehicle inspection with your insurance company, we take care of it all.
- We arrange for your rental car to be ready when you need it.
- We help you get extensions on rentals if your vehicle is not repaired within the allotted time.
- We fight for a fair price on the vehicle repairs to ensure you get the best value.
- We take pictures of the property damage before, during, and after the repairs. This ensures your demand is for the proper amount.
- We help you get your deductible back from your insurance company, if you go through your insurance for repairs.
- We always make sure our clients are satisfied with the outcome of their vehicle repairs.
To learn more about auto property damage and rental car info following an accident, you can contact us here or call 813-774-3341.