When Your Vehicle Will Be Repaired:
If your vehicle is operable and safe to drive, then you need to keep driving it until it needs to be delivered to the shop for repairs. The repair shop will often be able to facilitate a rental vehicle for you.
If the at-fault driver has sufficient coverage, then they will pay for your rental vehicle and the repairs. Where this gets tricky is when one vehicle causes a multi-car crash. Most Arizona drivers carry the minimum coverage for damage to another person’s property which is $15,000. If the vehicles involved have damage claims which together total more than the limits of the available coverage, then the available funds are split among the claimants in a pro rata manner. Pro rata is a mathematical calculation where the funds are split based on the amount of each claim where each claimant gets a percentage share of the available funds.
If you are in a multi-vehicle collision and all vehicles were damaged, you may want to have your own carrier pay for the repairs to your vehicle. This would be an option for you only if you have “collision” coverage on your vehicle. You may also have rental reimbursement coverage on your policy which will pay a certain amount for a rental vehicle for a specified period of time. Be careful not to exceed this time frame. (For more information on understanding your auto policy, please see our information on Understanding Your Automobile Insurance.)
When Your Vehicle is a Total Loss:
If your vehicle is an “actual” total loss or a “constructive” total loss, you will be given a rental vehicle until such time as an offer to settle this claim is made. At that time you will be given between 3 and 5 days to return the rental vehicle. It is important to make available all receipts for recent accessory purchases for your vehicle or for any other purchase that would make your vehicle more valuable than the standard version of that vehicle. For example, if you had custom alloy wheels, then providing that receipt will increase the amount you will receive. They will pay for the vehicle, less any deductions (for excessive mileage, prior un-repaired damage, prior interior damage, etc.), plus tax, reimbursement for annual tags, etc.
If your vehicle is going to be a total loss, we recommend you begin shopping for a replacement vehicle as soon as possible. So that you are not being taken advantage of, do not disclose that your vehicle was totaled in collision, just indicate you will not have a trade-in for this purchase.
In the case of a “constructive” total loss, where the cost to repair the vehicle is greater than 70% (generally, as these may vary) of the value of the vehicle in undamaged condition, you have the option of retaining the vehicle and obtaining a salvage title. You will receive the same offer as calculated above, but a deduction will be taken for the salvage value of your vehicle. You will need to apply for and provide a copy of the application for salvage title in order to obtain your funds and a copy of the salvage title will need to be provided to the insurance company within 45 days.
When renting a replacement vehicle, your auto insurance policy will cover the rental while your vehicle is being repaired up to the limit of the coverage on your policy. There is no need to purchase the optional collision coverage through the rental agency if you have collision coverage on your own policy. If you choose to do so, or if you need to do so because you have no collision coverage, then this cost is yours to pay and is not the responsibility of the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier. You will need to purchase the liability coverage if you do not have insurance of your own. This will also be a cost to you as automobile insurance is required in Arizona.
The rental car you receive should be of similar capacity and service as your vehicle though it may not necessarily be the same size. For example, you cannot expect to rent an SUV if you were driving a small sedan in the crash.
If you have personal property in your vehicle that was damaged in the crash and will need to be replaced, you will receive the actual, current value of that item. For example, if you have a car seat that is 2 years old and cost $300, they will prorate the value of that car seat, i.e.: Average car safety seat life expectancy 5 years, less 2 years already used leaves 3 years of lost life = 40% loss. 60% of $300 = $180. You will received $180 to use toward the purchase of a new safety seat. Receipts from the original purchase are needed and can be obtained from your credit card company or bank.
Equipment installed in your vehicle is not personal property but is handled with the vehicle damage so those items should be included with the total damages on the vehicle.