After a car accident, it’s important to secure alternate transportation so that your life can continue uninterrupted. Insurance companies offer rental reimbursement coverage as part of a full coverage auto policy, and you can also obtain a rental vehicle through the other person’s insurance company if they are at fault for an accident. While these options provide you with opportunities for alternate transportation, they do have limitations.

If you have special needs, you will need to account for them in advance. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a vehicle that will be insufficient, and you may end up paying out of pocket to get a rental that will suit your needs. By planning in advance and customizing your policy accordingly, you can have peace of mind that you will be compensated appropriately.

How Rental Car Reimbursement Works

If you carry rental reimbursement coverage, your auto insurance company will pay for a substitute vehicle while yours is in the shop after a covered accident. The rental is only available while your vehicle is being repaired for a claim; routine maintenance and other situations are not covered. Additionally, the limits of the rental coverage are determined at the time you purchase the policy, so how much rental car will be covered is determined in advance. Most insurance policies offer a certain amount of rental allowance per day for a certain number of days; if these limits are exhausted, you must pay the difference out of pocket.

The other option available to you after an auto accident is to have the other person’s insurance company pay for your rental. This is only an option if you are not at fault for the accident, and the rental will only begun after liability has been accepted. There is not a dollar-per-day limit for these rentals. Instead, state laws govern the size and type of the rental car a person can obtain. Although this size is somewhat negotiable, it’s ultimately up to the insurance company’s discretion to determine what type of rental you will have.

I Have a Large Family. Can I Rent a Minivan?

If you have need of a vehicle with extensive seating capacity, you will need to discuss this with the insurance company. When using your own rental reimbursement coverage, you should ensure that your policy limits are high enough to cover renting a minivan or small SUV. Otherwise, you will end up paying the difference out of pocket as the insurance company cannot provide payment beyond your policy limits. For example, if you have a $30 daily limit and a minivan costs $45, you will be responsible for the $15 difference. This is non-negotiable, so you should be sure to get as much rental coverage as you need.

When the rental vehicle is paid by the other person’s insurance company, you have more flexibility in regards to the car’s size. Some states require that you be offered a vehicle of similar size to the one that was disabled in the accident, while others only mandate that the vehicle be of a compact or economy size. Either way, if you ask the insurance company for an upgrade due to the size of your family, you should be able to get the car that you need, especially if the vehicle being repaired is a minivan or other family-sized vehicle.

I Have a Disability. Will My Rental Accommodate Me?

People with disabilities may require customized vehicles to accommodate wheelchair ramps, hand-controls or other modifications. These modifications allow the drivers to have improved mobility and freedom, providing opportunities for them to drive when it may otherwise be impossible.

Unfortunately, these custom-made vehicles are rare and expensive. It may be impossible to obtain a rental vehicle that would be fitted with these enhancements. Even if you are able to rent the vehicle, it may cost more than the rental company is willing to pay.

In order to ensure that your needs are met, you will need to purchase additional coverage from your insurance company. This will allow you to rent an appropriate substitute vehicle; if one is not available, you can utilize other forms of transportation, such as taxi services or other types of public transportation. Without the appropriate coverage, you will not be able to seek reimbursement for these forms of transportation.

It’s a good idea to discuss your rental needs with your insurance company when you purchase the policy. If you have special needs, your insurance agent can assist you in purchasing a policy that will address those needs while staying within your budget. Whether increasing the limits of your rental coverage or obtaining additional coverages that will supplement your existing policy, your agent can help you customize your insurance to suit your needs.