Is insurance company responsible for paying for my car rental?
(Pompton Lakes, NJ)
I was parked and a bus ran into my car (this happened in NJ). The bus's insurance company wanted my car fixed in 7 days, and only wanted to pay for a car rental for that many days.
Right away I rented the car. Three days after the accident, their adjuster looked at my car and my mechanic proceed to fix my car. My mechanic found an oversight on a very expensive part under the car that was cracked, but three more days went by before the adjuster returned my mechanic's phone call.
The insurance company agreed to pay for the extra part and not claim my 2004 CRV as a total loss. Then they agreed to pay for the rental car in total 21 days ending on 08/08/2016. They notified the car rental company on the 10th that they would no longer pay.
I returned the car on the 16th when I realized I had to pay. I end up missing work for a couple of days because it took my mechanic until the 19th to finish repairs.
The claims agent refused to pay for the extra day (car rental), but no paperwork was sent to me that confirms the dates or rules about their payout of claims. As a matter of fact I received no paperwork from that company at all.
Are they responsible for the rest of my car rental bill? Is it the law that they have to pay for a rental for the entire time my car is being repaired? If so, would they also have to compensate me for the work day I lost due to not having a car? Thanks for any info you can provide.
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ANSWER for "Is insurance company responsible for paying for my car rental?":
Anna (Pompton Lakes, NJ):
We were unable to locate any New Jersey laws requiring rental companies or insurance companies having to provide rental cars for a specified time period to car owners whose cars have been damaged by the insured.
However, the lack of a law doesn't mean the bus company is excused from compensating you for your reasonable losses incurred as a result of the bus driver's negligence.
The insurance company not agreeing to pay for the rental during the time necessary to effect repairs may be considered dealing in bad faith. However, the bad faith is not serious enough to rise to the level required to sue the insurance company (for bad faith), rather than suing the bus company, or the bus company driver.
In similar cases, victims may not sue the negligent driver's insurance company. The insurance company did not cause the accident, nor the resulting injuries and their costs, their "insured" did.
If the insurance company continues to refuse to compensate you for the days reasonably required for you to have the rental car, you can consider suing the bus company in small claims court. New Jersey Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction to hear cases up to $3,000.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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