Motorcycle Repair Process: The 10 Rental Car Rules
If you’re in a motorcycle accident and your bike is in the shop you may need a rental vehicle if it’s your only form of transportation. As you are probably injured and unable to ride, you may also choose to get a car for necessary transportation to work and your doctor’s appointments. In order to rent a car, you must be 21 years of age and be able to follow specific rental car rules. If between 21-25 years of age, there will be a $25.00 “Young Driver Surcharge” and you will be limited to a certain type of vehicle. You will also need a valid California Driver’s License and a credit card.
DO have Rental Car Coverage:
If you do have rental car insurance coverage, you are entitled to get a rental car within your policy’s specific insurance coverage limits.
- You are entitled to a “similar vehicle,” which for motorcyclists of course means a motorcycle if you choose;
- Next, you will have specific rates and limits for example – $16.00 or $20.00 per day not to exceed $300.00.
- There will also be time limits typically “up until the time repairs are completed” or, if your bike is a “total loss” when an “total loss offer of settlement is made.” Your insurance company will give you a day or two grace period after repairs are completed or you receive a total loss offer to return the rental vehicle. Bottom line. Timely return the vehicle.
- Most insurance companies also allow “direct billing” by the rental car company to your insurance company.
- Don’t buy Additional Insurance as your rental car is covered under your policy.
DON’T have Rental Car Coverage:
However, most riders do not have “rental car coverage” with their own insurance company. So what do you do? By California law, you are entitled to seek reimbursement from the driver at-fault for your rental car expenses again with specific Rental Car Rules.
- Confirm coverage with the driver at-fault’s insurance company of the driver at-fault – Before another insurance company will pay for your rental car they must confirm insurance coverage for their insured for your rental vehicle. For example, if the other driver has a minimal “liability only” 15/30/5 policy, there will only be $5,000.00 to cover the repair or replacement of your bike and your rental;
- Confirm liability in writing – Even though you think the other driver is at fault or the Traffic Collision Report has the other party 100% at fault, the other insurance company may have a different “liability assessment.” For example in almost all of my lane sharing cases where a driver busts out of a lane and hits my client, the insurance company will argue that my client is 20, 30 or even 50% at-fault for riding at an “Unsafe Speed.” Then the insurance company will reduce any payments by their random liability assessment paying you only a percentage of your damages. Get them to send a letter or email confirming 100% liability on the part of their insured.
- Reasonable Rate limits – As stated above the driver at-fault’s insurance company may also have rate and time limits for “reasonable” expenses. As such, I do not recommend that you get an Escalade or truck as you will have to pay the difference. Get the smallest, cheapest car that best meets your needs;
- Time Limits – Again you are entitled to a rental car only from the date of the accident up until the completion of repairs or, if your motorcycle was determined to be a total loss, up until a property damage settlement offer is made. At that point, you must return the rental car or you will pay for the extra days!
- Reimbursement ONLY – The driver at-fault’s insurance company will not direct bill. They will only reimburse you for your rental expenses.
Total Loss Bikes:
If you’re told your bike was determined by the insurance company to be a “total loss” (meaning the cost of fixing it is more than 70% of the actual cash value of the bike), your rental car reimbursement will be cut off as soon as that determination is made. This could be an email, letter or even a phone call from the Total Loss Adjustor.
This is an important hard date so even though you disagree in their initial total loss offer, you MUST STILL return the rental vehicle during the negotiation process which could take weeks. If you keep the rental vehicle they will say you “failed to mitigate your damages” and they will only reimburse you up to the date of the initial total loss offer.
Once you return the rental car, send the written rental car receipt to the insurance company and ask for reimbursement. They will then order the reimbursement check and mail it to you usually within ten (10) days.
If you think your motorcycle might be a “total loss” think ahead and prepare yourself by planning to promptly return the rental car and having a replacement vehicle already picked out. This way, you can buy a replacement vehicle as soon as you get your property damage settlement check from the insurance company.
IF you’re in a situation in which you can’t rent a car for one of these reasons, we recommend you have someone else rent a vehicle for you and then add you as an additional driver under the contract. Failing that, you might have no choice but to rely on the good graces of friends or public transportation. As California motorcycle attorneys, we at the Reinecke Law Firm resolve issues regarding insurance coverage and rental vehicles every day.
Please note: the insurance company for the driver at fault is not obligated to pay for your rental car if you do not meet the rental contract requirements. In addition, the insurance company for the driver at fault is not required to make advance payments and will not be billed directly by the rental company.
Some body shops provide rental cars on their premises. However, we have found that few will do so in motorcycle accident cases. Therefore, when you drop your motorcycle off, we recommend you make arrangements to get your rental vehicle elsewhere. Even if you already have a second vehicle for example a car instead of a motorcycle, you are still entitled to a rental car to replace the damaged vehicle. However, keep in mind that if you have a problem you might need a good motorcycle attorney to help you obtain rental reimbursement.
About Thomas G. “Tom” Reinecke:
Since 1987, Tom Reinecke has been the highest rated California Motorcycle Lawyer. A graduate of UCLA, former Superior Court Judge Pro Tem, and Author of California Motorcycle Law, Tom has successfully handled thousands of motorcycle accident and injury cases. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, please call Tom Reinecke – BestMotorycleLawyer.com at (800) 275-8326.