Crash Victims Say They’re Waiting Long for Repairs, Insurance Won’t Extend Rental Car

Crash Victims Say They’re Waiting Long for Repairs, Insurance Won’t Extend Rental Car

Some crash victims are frustrated after waiting for repairs from auto body shops running behind schedule because of parts shortages. In some cases, insurance won’t pay or keep paying for their rental car.

Amanda DeBrun said she was eight months pregnant when a car crashed into her SUV that she and her other child were in. No one was seriously hurt, but her SUV had extensive damage.

She took it to 3Masters Auto Collision in Charlotte, NC. The owner, David Padilla, told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke there are still supply chain issues, so he’s had a hard time getting certain parts.

“The longest parts right now seem to be just any safety-related parts, so airbags, seat belts, modules,” he said. “They are the most important components of the vehicle.”

He and DeBrun are frustrated together.

“They say (it) comes in threes, but I think it felt like it came in sixes for us,” DeBrun said. “And I have to take my son to half-day day care, go to doctor appointments. … I was just in a car accident and gave birth so there’s like a lot of appointments that I have to attend.”

Her husband, Cameron, is a lawyer. He told Stoogenke he has many clients in the same situation. Fortunately, insurance covers rental cars in many cases. But he said some insurers aren’t willing to pay long enough to cover the delays.

“I’m getting pushback from a lot of insurance companies saying, ‘Oh, well, it’s not our fault the parts aren’t there on time. It’s not our fault so we’re not going to cover the rental car for the whole time,’” he said.

The Insurance Information Institute, which speaks on behalf of the insurance industry, told Stoogenke:

“In terms of coverage, it usually depends on the level you select. Each insurer is different as to what they offer on daily and maximum limits. Some insurers provide a dollar number, some have a maximum number of days of coverage. Typically, there are ranges from $25 per day with a $750 maximum to $100 per day with a $3,000 maximum. Of course, the greater the dollar limit, the larger the premium. 

"Also, you have to consider the type of car. Is it a small car or an SUV? The size and type of vehicle will have a bearing on the price per day you’ll need to have reimbursed. So work with your insurance professional to determine what’s best for you.

“An insurance company may also require that the repairs have to exceed a certain period of time before rental reimbursement applies. For example, the policy might require a vehicle to be out of service for more than 24 hours before the coverage kicks in. Most insurance companies also require you to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage before they offer a rental reimbursement option. Comprehensive coverage covers losses that occur outside of collisions. Common causes of loss include fire, theft, hail and vandalism.

“Each insurer has a relationship with one of the major car rental companies and can usually get a better rate than the average consumer. That said, there is still an issue of supply and demand and if cars are in short supply, the cost is going to be higher for everyone and availability can be an issue. Keep in mind many of the rental car companies sold about 40% to 50% of their fleets with the pandemic. On top of that, it’s harder for rental car companies to get new cars because of supply chain issues.”

Stoogenke said the DeBruns’ case is a little different. The couple said their insurance doesn’t cover any rental, so Padilla actually gave them a free rental car.

What do you do if the insurance company stops paying? If you were the one at fault in the wreck, there’s not much you can do. But if you’re not the one at fault, complain to your state’s department of insurance. If that doesn’t work, you may need a lawyer.

We thank WSOC-TV for reprint permission.

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