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Rental Reimbursement

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 12/06/2010

What is rental reimbursement, when to rent a car, why you may not want the rental company’s “insurance”, and using the coverage.

Young Woman Renting a Car

She may need a rental car after her accident.

Consider this: you got hit and your car sustained some pretty decent damage. No one was hurt, thankfully. You filed a claim on your vehicle, the adjuster took a look at it and everything is in order. The shop says you’ll have your ride back in a few days.

That’s all fine and good, but you still need a car to get to work. What are you going to do in the meantime? Take the bus?

Borrow Uncle Maynard’s ’72 Pinto?

Fortunately many insurance companies are way ahead of you on this. They offer rental reimbursement coverage.

How Rental Reimbursement Works

Rental reimbursement coverage, also known as “loss of use,” is an optional auto insurance coverage which is often considered in the same breath as towing or roadside assistance coverage. It’s not required by anyone and often overlooked, sometimes even by agents. However, like towing and roadside assistance, it’s not very expensive and real nice to have when you need it.

As with any other coverage there can be differences between companies. Rental reimbursement coverage is typically offered on a per diem basis. This reimbursement is typically capped at around $25/day for a set amount of time, say six weeks. You go to any car rental establishment, pick up a rental on your own dime and your insurance company reimburses you directly.

It’s pretty straightforward.

Renting a Car With a Common Pitfall

However, renting a car often poses its own set of insurance-related challenges. Regardless of why you’re renting a car in the first place, most car rental agencies will try to upsell you on their own insurance. Keep in mind, this is often not technically “insurance” per se, but a reimbursement scheme for any damages they may charge you.

Many people take this insurance not realizing their own insurance company would cover them in a rental at the same levels of coverage they have with their own car. In addition this is usually the case if you’re renting anywhere in the United States or Canada. It’s good stuff to know both if you’re in an accident or if you’re going on vacation. Before paying for a potentially unnecessary “service,” ask your agent if your policy covers you driving a rental.

Also keep in mind most auto rental companies won’t rent to anyone under 25, period. If this applies to you, that Pinto may be your only option despite your rental reimbursement coverage.

To Rent or Not to Rent

One nice thing about rental reimbursement coverage is that often times you don’t need to actually rent a car to qualify for it. If you file a rental reimbursement claim and are approved, the insurance company just sends you a check. They’re not going to follow up to see if you actually rented a car.

Since it’s technically a loss of use coverage, you could use the money to compensate a family member for temporary use of their car. Alternatively, you could just pocket the money if you so desired. It’s entirely up to you. Check with your insurance agent to make sure this is OK first, but chances are it is.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He’s worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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Reviews (2)

  • Felicia

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    State Farm has been found liable in an accident involving my vehicle. They only allowed me 3 days for a rental once we came to a settlement. Although settled it has been at least an additional 3 weeks and still no payment. The cost of the rental has been at my expense. My insurance company will only cover 10 days. I have surpassed that. Is there anything I can do to recoup some of the expense from with State Farm or my rental agency Tow Busters?

    Reply

    • Michele Griffin

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      Your rental agency is not going to be able to give you much assistance in this case, so best not to even try and recoup any expenses from them. State Farm however, is liable for the time you need to be in the rental until your vehicle is repaired or you have payment to purchase a new vehicle.

      Now, with this being said, I do not know the details of your settlement,the details of the accident or how liability was determined. If you feel that State Farm still owes you for the rental car and you are getting nowhere with the claims adjuster, I would suggest talking to a supervisor.

      Reply

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