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Vehicle Damage and Your Insurance Coverage

Oh no! You’ve been in a car accident. Thankfully, no one has been injured. Unfortunately, your car hasn’t been as lucky. It’s pretty banged up, and with each passing moment, you fill with dread as thoughts swirl through your head – how much will this cost to repair, will my car have to be replaced, what will I drive in the meantime? One thought brings you comfort in this most dire of circumstances – I HAVE CAR INSURANCE. You quickly scramble to find your policy, buried somewhere in your glove compartment beneath a barrage of children’s toys, fast food napkins, and other odds and ends, but give up quickly, resorting to your trusty smart phone for help – it will have the answer, you think. Siri directs you to this website, and there it is, exactly what you need, a blog post with all the answers to quell your restless mind. You kick back with a cold beverage as you read on.

My Insurance

In dealing with vehicle damage following a motor vehicle accident, your insurance policy can protect you from two different angles: property damage liability coverage and physical damage coverage. The former protects you against potential third parties. In the event your car causes damage to another person’s property, your property damage liability coverage will pay for the damages. The latter is based on your contractual relationship with your insurance company.  It can be broken down into two kinds: collision and comprehensive. In the event of a car accident, collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle, regardless of who caused the accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for those losses attributable to non-accident related incidents including, but not limited to, theft, fire, and vandalism. It should be noted that collision and comprehensive physical damage coverage can be sold separately or as a package deal. Additionally, physical damage coverage is NOT required by law, but if you do not have this type of coverage, you run the risk of paying out of pocket for repairs or replacement should anything happen to your vehicle.

Repair vs. Total Loss

Your vehicle will either be repaired or considered a total loss, depending on the severity of the damage to your vehicle. If the repair option is viable, an estimate will be prepared. Estimates are sometimes based on the use of after-market parts. An after-market part is a part that is new, but one that is not made by the manufacturer of your vehicle. If an after-market part is used in the preparation of your estimate, this fact must be disclosed to you. The use of after-market (or generic) parts has been controversial as these parts are sometimes believed to be inferior or may not fit like those parts made by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you do not want after-market parts used, you can opt for parts made by your vehicle’s manufacturer, but you must pay the difference in price. If it will cost you more to repair your vehicle than replace it, your vehicle will be considered a total loss. If you are in a total loss situation, there are two options: replacement and cash settlement.

The Deductible

The deductible comes into play whether it is a repair or total loss situation. The deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket on each claim. In terms of recovery of a deductible, Ohio’s Administrative Code §3901-1-54(H)(10) states as follows:

An insurer shall include the first party claimant's deductible, if any, in subrogation demands. The insurer shall share any subrogation recovery received on a proportionate basis with the first party claimant, unless the first party claimant's deductible has been paid in advance or recovered. The insurer shall not deduct expenses from this amount except that an outside attorney or collection agency retained to collect such recovery may be paid a pro rata share of his expenses for collecting this amount. (Emphasis added.)

In layman’s terms, should an insurance company be successful in their subrogation efforts, an insured is entitled to a share of the recovery received unless their deductible was paid in advance or recovered.


The use of a rental vehicle depends on which insurance company the claim is being made against. If the claim is being made against the other driver’s insurance company, that company should pay for the use of a rental vehicle for a reasonable amount of time while your vehicle is being repaired. If your vehicle is a total loss, the other driver’s insurance company is NOT required to pay for the use of a rental vehicle, but may do so as courtesy. If the claim is being made against your own policy, payment for the use of a rental vehicle is dependent on whether you have rental reimbursement coverage. If you have paid the premium for rental reimbursement coverage, you will be able to utilize a rental vehicle. Even so, there will likely be a limit on rental payments. You should look to your policy for specifics, especially for information regarding coverage of your rental vehicle.

The information contained on this page can be found in greater detail on the Ohio Department of Insurance’s website. For more detailed information on rental reimbursement coverage, please click here.

If you would like more information on deductible recovery, including a breakdown of the law in all 50 states, call the Cleveland auto accident attorneys at NRS, toll-free 24/7 at 1.855.GOT.HURT (1.855.468.4878) or contact us by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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