Did you know that Rhode Island recently enacted important laws to help drivers after a car accident with their rental and car repair/total loss needs? I am excited to announce the first of four blogs I will post on this notable car accident legal news!
What Do I Do About My Rental, Car Damage, And/Or Total Loss After A RI Car Accident? New Law Will Help!
For many years, Rhode Island has maintained laws relating to car accident law, including getting your car repaired, paid for total loss, and/or access to a rental car during this process. Unfortunately, many of us in the industry have long complained that the existing laws were ineffective against the inherent greed of the auto insurance industry in limiting what they pay out to Rhode Islanders after a car accident.
I would like to give a huge shout out to the Auto Body Association of Rhode Island, whose members have worked tirelessly to stand up for Rhode Island drivers to our politicians. The result is that effective as of June 26, 2023, we have several new laws that should help minimize some abuses by these greedy auto insurance companies like Progressive, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, and Allstate. After an injury in a motor vehicle accident, we are dedicated to getting you or your loved one the best payout possible. Call or text us now at 401-777-7777 for a free case review.
How Can Rhode Island’s Laws Help Car Accident Victims With Their Property Damage (Car Repairs, Rentals, Total Loss)?
Rhode Island’s Unfair Claims Practices Act is a series of statutes that dictate how insurers must investigate and determine insurance claim policy payouts. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-1). This includes instructing motor vehicle insurance companies operating in Rhode Island, appraisers, attorneys, and injured claimants on how to interact and what to expect during policy claim processes. It also specifically states what unfair claims practices are (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-4) and what the penalties are for engaging in such unlawful activities (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-7).
We deal with the Unfair Claims Practices Act and related laws frequently, and have done so for years.
What Are Common Tricks Car Insurance Companies Use To Short You On Your Car Damage And Rental?
All car insurance companies are for-profit companies that instruct their customer service people how to interact with you, the Rhode Island consumer. Whether it is “your” insurance company (by the way, you really do not have an insurance company, just one that you pay money to each month that is supposed to treat you more fairly than the “other” insurance company after a car accident, but seldom does) or the at fault driver’s insurance company, they are all trying to save money by paying out as little as possible. Here are a few tricks these companies play on you daily in Rhode Island:
- Delay scheduling the car appraisal
- Delay providing you a rental car
- Delay in accepting fault (“liability”) for the car accident
- Delay in providing a written appraisal of the car damage/total loss amount
- Providing a lowball appraisal for car repair or total loss payout
- Improperly charging your for a rental car
- Forcing you out of the rental car as soon as possible, leaving you without transportation
How Can The Recent RI Law Changes Help You After A Car Accident?
In short, the newly-enacted changes to the Unfair Claims Practices Act add to the definition of what an “unfair claim” and include added rental vehicle coverage details and a completely new chapter related to motor vehicle appraisal practices.
As of June 26, 2023, insurance companies operating in Rhode Island must, if applicable:
- Pay rental car costs directly to your chosen rental car company, and any issues the insurance company has with the price must be provided via written notice before or at the time of payment (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-4(a)(18));
- Acknowledge and compensate any auto body repairer for necessary original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) parts in his or her appraisal (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-4(a)(22));
- Promptly schedule appraisals ((R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-4(a)(25));
- Promptly respond to and appraise vehicles (three business days) after receiving an appraisal request from an auto body repair shop while the vehicle is present in the shop ((R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-4(a)(26)). Failure to do so will now result in the insurance company forfeiting certain inspection rights;
- Extend your rental vehicle coverage proportionally to the delay the claims process causes you ((R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-9.1-4(a)(27));
- Timely schedule a neutral appraiser to review the damages to your vehicle within three business days after your or your attorney notify them about a disagreement in the initial appraisal value (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-10.4-1.(a)-(b));
- Refrain from intimidating, coercing, threatening, or misrepresenting your rights in the appraisal process (R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-10.4-1.(c)).
- Follow new rental vehicle guidelines in the event of the total loss of your vehicle (See generally R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-7-6 (c)-(d)).
How Do These Changes Affect My Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Case?
These changes put more pressure on insurance companies to act quickly and do the right thing after your car accident injury. Keep in mind, the changes to the Unfair Claims Practices Act and related laws generally help with your car (“property damage”) and not your personal injury case (“bodily injury claim”). It is so important for Rhode Islanders to contact us as soon as possible after sustaining injuries a car accident. Having a skilled personal attorney on your side to stay up-to-date on and interpret the law to leverage top-notch negotiation strategies is a must. Contact us today to get started on your claim!
It’s Good to Know Mike Bottaro – 24/7 Top-Rated Personal Injury Help
At Bottaro Injury Lawyers, we care for people. Attorney Mike Bottaro and his award-winning legal team handle all types of personal injury cases throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We can even help on cases in other states as well. We pride ourselves on our honesty, integrity, and results. Contact us 24/7 in any method you prefer for a fast, free, and confidential consultation about your case. Feel free to text or call us at 401-777-7777, or fill out our free and confidential online form. We are here to serve and help you!