Most people know that in the event of a car, truck or motorcycle crash, the at fault party or their insurance company must pay for a rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired, or until they have paid you for the total loss of your property. This is called “Loss of Use.” But most people do not know that you do not have to actually rent another vehicle in order to be paid for this loss of use of your property.
California Law Requires Payment For Loss of Use Regardless of Whether or Not You Actually Rent a Vehicle
Generally, the law in California requires that the at fault party pay for the rental value of your vehicle while is it not drivable or, in the case of a motorcycle, not rid able. The law does not require you to actually rent another vehicle. Equally important is the fact that, in California, you are entitled to the fair rental value of an equivalent vehicle. That means that if you are driving a more expensive vehicle, you are to be paid for the fair rental value of a similar vehicle. You are not limited to the rental value of the least expensive car on the rental lot. If you are driving a Lexis, BMW or Mercedes, you are entitled to either rent, or be paid the value of an equivalent luxury vehicle, not the economy car the insurance company tries to stick you with. If your SUV was damaged, you are entitled to the rental value of an SUV, not a compact car.
If you do not rent a car, you are still entitled to the rental value of an equivalent car, even if you do not rent anything. You do not have to rent the car from a rental company. If you have a friend or relative with a car you can use, you can agree to pay a reasonable amount for the use of that car and the insurance company must reimburse you for that cost. Typically, you can expect to be paid at least $20 per day if you do not rent a temporary replacement vehicle.
What about if you have rental coverage through your own insurance company? Rental coverage is limited and determined by the coverage you purchased under your policy. It typically a set daily rate and is usually limited to 30 days. Your insurance company will pay up to the daily rate only and it not required to cover the entire cost of the rental vehicle. This is one of the differences between coverage through your insurance company and what the other [responsible] party’s insurance company owes you.
In the case of a motorcycle, you are entitled to the rental value of an equivalent motorcycle. Typically, insurance companies try to put a motorcycle rider into an economy car at a much lower cost than another motorcycle that is typically much more expensive to rent. A Harley Davidson motorcycle is very expensive to rent compared to an economy size car. And, if you are unable to even ride a motorcycle after your collision, as stated above, you do not need to rent anything to be entitled to the rental value of your own motorcycle.
Insurance companies hate it when the public is aware of the law, because it forces them to deal with accident victims fairly and pay what they owe, not just what they can get away with paying. Always be aware of your rights, and do not be afraid to ask and expect an insurance company to pay what is fair.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the Law Offices of John P. Rosenberg at (818) 530-1770.