Questions About Rental Cars and Damage to Your Vehicle
Often, the clients of Howell & Thornhill, P.A., have questions about the damage to their vehicle in a motor vehicle crash in Florida. Below are some of the questions we have heard from our clients in the past. For a complete explanation of your rights, please consult a lawyer with Howell & Thornhill, P.A., as each situation is different.
Why does the insurance company refuse to talk to me about my car until they reach their insured that caused the crash?
When the other driver causes the crash, the other driver’s insurance is responsible for the damage to your vehicle. However, they often stall until they have a complete copy of the crash report or until they talk to their insured to verify how the crash happened. They may refuse to deal on the damage to the vehicle because they question whether their driver caused the crash or they merely want to sit on their money to make interest. In either event, our firm tries to obtain a copy of the crash report to speed up the process. One option is to use any available coverage you have with your insurance company to cover the damage to your vehicle. The drawback is you may have a deductible.
Do I have to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company on how the crash happened to have them deal with me on the damage to my vehicle?
Often, insurance companies try to force you into a statement about how the crash happened by stating they will not talk to you about fixing or totaling out the vehicle until they have a statement. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., believes that this is a trick to have you give a statement without knowing your rights that they will later use to justify paying little or nothing for the damage to your vehicle. Our firm suggests you consult a lawyer before giving any statements to determine whether they are actually necessary and helpful.
Does the other driver’s insurance have a responsibility to pay for a rental vehicle?
Howell & Thornhill, P.A., believes that the insurance for the driver that caused the crash has a duty to pay for a rental vehicle until they pay for the totaling out of your vehicle or until the repairs are complete. Insurance companies often refuse initially to pay for rental vehicles in the hopes they can avoid this expense.
If I do not actually rent a vehicle, does the other driver’s insurance have a responsibility to pay anything?
Yes. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., believes that the insurance company for the driver that caused the crash has a duty to pay for loss of use. So, if you lose the ability to use your vehicle for two weeks following the crash until the repairs are complete, the other driver’s insurance company should pay an amount for each day of the two weeks.
Can the insurance company for the driver who caused the crash simply offer me book value if my vehicle cannot be repaired even though my vehicle was worth more?
The insurance company for the driver who caused the crash would like to pay the smallest amount possible for your vehicle if it is going to be totaled out. Insurance companies make money by paying out a small amount of money. If you call back the insurance company and say, "That amount is not fair", they are unlikely to offer more. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., suggests that you call three car dealers and ask how much will you charge me cash for a vehicle like mine, ___ year, ____ make, ____ model, ______ miles and with the special equipment of ___________. We then suggest you write down the name and number of those car dealers as well as the amount they quote. With this information, you can approach the insurance company and state that similar vehicles cost more than you offered me, here is the information from the three dealers I contacted, and if you believe that is a fair price to replace my vehicle, then find me a similar vehicle in my area at your price.
Another way to check the offer you received on the vehicle is to check the following web sites:
Can the insurance company for the other driver only pay the value of the vehicle when the amount I owe on a loan is much higher?
Unfortunately, Florida law only requires that the insurance company reimburse the value of the vehicle. Often, the amount of the loan is much higher than the value of the vehicle. If you do not have GAP insurance to cover the difference between the loan amount and the value of the car, then Florida law makes you responsible for this amount. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., feels that this law unfairly punishes people who cannot afford to pay cash for a vehicle. In the past, we have suggested to client’s to negotiate with the loan company to eliminate the unpaid amount or try to roll that unpaid amount into a new vehicle purchase. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this situation under Florida law.
Please call Howell & Thornhill, P.A. for a full explanation of your rights as the above questions and answers may not exactly fit your situation.