What is a “substitute” vehicle as defined in an auto policy ?
First lets address the issue of supplemental transportation; in the context of a personal auto policy as an insured( contract party) then as a claimant or non-contract party. Nearly all contracts of insurance provide for some form of economic relief for supplemental transportation. They are very rarely if ever defined or controlled by state insurance law or regulations. Thus you will find wide ranging variances in the dollar amount of the economic relief & aggregate amount. Most auto policies will specify the daily dollar limit & aggregate total dollar amount within a specified time frame which again is fairly consistent at 30 days Its important to understand that there are specialized policies or “designer” policies which address the needs of specific client business interest & needs which deviate substantially from the standard auto policies in dollar daily average & aggregate dollar totals. For the majority the standard auto policy is 30 days for a specified dollar amount per day & aggregate total dollars. The reason for the aggregate total dollar amount should be obvious. If you rent a vehicle that is above the daily dollar amount and elect to pay the difference, the contract still controls the total dollar amount that will be paid within the 30 day period. Today most auto policies economic relief for supplemental transportation starts at 30 dollars to 50 dollars a day, with the total aggregate dollar amount $900 & $ 1,500 respectively. Its important to know that this is not considered “rental insurance”. This is supplemental vehicle reimbursement & as such most insurance companies are going to manage this very aggressively. So here is where having a professional & knowledgeable repair facility is paramount. You see the policy states very clearly they will pay for supplemental transportation when your vehicle is not available for regular & ordinary use due to mechanical break down or collision damages. We will pay 30, 50 dollars a day up to the total aggregate amount or which ever comes first. That’s it ! There are no other conditions placed on this contract issue. So when & how is your vehicle not available for regular & ordinary use ? The insurance company will tell you if your car cannot be driven. But what exactly constitutes not drive-able ? Is it safety ? is it actual physical or mechanical incapacitated ? or is it the prospect of a safety concern or issue ? Well most insurance companies only want to hear physical & mechanically incapacitated. In the insurance industry this is what is known as “the gray area” and it is within this area that the insurance representative exist. Remember what we said, the insurance company begins looking for ways to cut cost the minute you file your claim and they do it when, where & often. This is why it is critical that your vehicle be repaired by one of our repair facilities to be certain you do not become a victim of the insurance companies interpretation of the “gray” area. Bottom line is if you do not feel safe driving your vehicle then you take a rental vehicle. To be clear if you have a small dent, or a scratch or “minor” damages that really do not impinge on the safe operation of the vehicle be prepared to be confronted by the insurance representative. This person maybe the appraiser or claims representative or both but you will have a problem. So having a repair facility that has professionally trained staff who can represent you & mitigate the “gray” area is very important. Next month we will conclude with the claimant or non-contract person & how supplemental transportation needs differ from the auto policy contract.
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