What happens when you get into a car accident in a rental car in New Jersey?
It is vacation season and many are in search of their paradise away from home. Some may avoid putting wear and tear on their personal vehicles. Others may fly to another state and decide to take in the sights. Either may elect to rent a car. Many will assume that their New Jersey automobile insurance coverage covers them for liability and potential personal injuries for everyone in the car.
The first step is ascertaining when your own coverage applies to a rental car may be to check with your insurance company. If you are driving an older car and have elected to drop coverage for collision and comprehensive, property damages will not be covered on the rental vehicle. Essentially, your personal coverage follows the rental car. Whatever deductible you elected there, will apply to the rental vehicle. Unless you take the supplemental insurance, the rental car company will swiftly bill your credit card for the deductible for any damages.
What about personal injury protection? Once again, the coverage for personal injuries mirrors your elections under your own policy. It may still be wise to call ahead to get confirmation of your coverage. Unfortunately, the answer is not always as easy as it seems. An unpublished New Jersey case details just this issue.
In this case, Union City resident Maria Evora decided to visit Florida with her son and mother. Maria’s son lived with her, but her mother resided in nearby West New York. Prior to starting her trip, Ms. Evora had the foresight to call her automobile insurance company and asked if she would be covered if she rented a car. She was advised that it would be the same as though she was driving her car in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. Maria was involved in a serious car accident while she was driving the rental car. Sadly, her mother died in the accident. The driver of the vehicle that caused the accident did not have insurance for bodily injury. Ms. Evora’s automobile carrier had no issues paying for medical treatment for Maria and her son. Since Maria’s son lived with her, he was considered a resident member of the household. Benefits were paid under what is known as the UM part of the plan. The issue came with the claim on behalf of the decedent.
Ms. Evora’s insurance was only available to resident family members or those who occupied a “covered auto.” Maria’s mother did not own a car and therefore had no automobile coverage of her own. No one in her household had car insurance. The court found that the phrase “covered autos” only referred to those cars actually listed on the insurance policy. Therefore, there were no benefits payable to the decedent’s estate.
It may even be wise to contact a personal injury attorney with insurance questions prior to the need for one. Anthony Carbone has handled these types of cases for over 25 years and is available for a complimentary consultation. Contact him today and get the answers you need.