Q How long can I keep a rental car after my car was damaged?
If your car was not a total loss and needs to be repaired, you’re entitled to collect from the negligent party’s insurance company for the loss of use you suffered during the reasonable time it takes to repair your car. In North Carolina accidents, insurance companies usually satisfy this obligation to pay for loss of use by providing a rental car to the owner of the damaged vehicle.
The length of time that you may keep a car rental depends upon the reasonable length of time it will take the body shop to repair your car. So long as you are diligent in taking the car for repair work and do not unnecessarily delay the repair process, you should be entitled to have your rental for the entire time it takes to have your car repaired.
If there is an unusual delay in getting your car repaired, for instance if your body shop needs to order a part which will take several days to come in, you are nevertheless entitled to recovery for the full time it takes to repair the car. This is provided that the delay is not your fault.
The key question is: What is the “reasonable” time it should take to repair your car? The insurance companies are liable to provide you for loss of use or a rental during this “reasonable” time.
If your car is a total loss, technically, the law in North Carolina does not require a negligent party or its insurance company to provide you a car rental at all. However, most insurance companies do provide a rental even when the car is a total loss. When the car is a total loss, the length of time that you can have a rental is usually only a few days. You can’t really argue with the insurance company about this since, technically, the insurance companies don’t have to provide you a rental at all if your car is a total loss.