Loss of use is a legal phrase that means that you were not able to use your car after it was damaged in an automobile accident. Losing the of use of your car can be inconvenient and expensive. The amount of time of your loss of use may vary depending on the amount of damage to your car and the length of time that it takes to repair your car.

If you lose the use of your car after an automobile accident, you may be able to file a claim for damages with your car insurance company. Typically, damages from loss of use include the costs of a rental car or the costs of using public transportation while your car is being repaired.

When Can I Collect for Loss of Use?

You may be able to file a claim with your insurance company for loss of use if:

  • You were in an automobile accident;
  • You were not at fault for causing the automobile accident;
  • You owned or leased the vehicle that you were driving at the time of the automobile accident;
  • Your vehicle was damaged in the automobile accident;
  • Your vehicle became unusable by you for a period of time; and
  • You suffered financial damages as a result of losing the use of your vehicle.

How Much Can I Recover in My Loss of Use Claim?

The amount of money that you can recover from your automobile insurance claim may depend on a variety of factors. Some car insurance companies may place limits on the amount of money that you can recover. Car insurance companies may also limit the amount of time that you have to file your loss of use claim.

Typically, the amount of money that you can recover for the loss of the use of your damaged vehicle is limited to the amount that it cost you to rent a car while your vehicle was being repaired. It’s important to note that your recovery amount must be considered reasonable.

Your car insurance company may deny your loss of use claim if it determines that your claim was not reasonable. An unreasonable loss of use claim may include a recovery amount for an expensive or luxury rental car that is not similar to the type of car that you are having repaired.  

Additionally, some car insurance companies place a limit on the length of time that you can recover for loss of use damages. Typically, car insurance companies will not allow you to recover loss of use damages if you use a rental car for more than thirty days.

When May Loss of Use Claims Be Denied?

Insurance companies may recognize the loss of use damages differently. There are many situations when a loss of use claim may be denied. These include situations when:

  • Your claim was unreasonable (or too expensive);
  • Your vehicle was totally destroyed in the automobile accident;
  • Your vehicle was never repaired;
  • The repairs to your damaged vehicle were unreasonable (the repaired parts were unusually expensive or the repairs took an unusually long amount of time to complete);
  • The value of your vehicle before the automobile accident was less than the total amount of your claim; and
  • You did not rent a substitute vehicle.

If your car insurance company denies your loss of use claim, you may be able to file an appeal.

What Do I Need to File a Loss of Use Claim?

Your car insurance company may request specific information from you when you file your loss of use claim. This information may vary depending on your car insurance company. Typically, a car insurance company may request the following information from you:

  • An automobile accident police report that provides details about the incident;
  • Proof of the value or condition of your car prior to the automobile accident;
  • A rental car contract or receipt listing the length of time that you rented the car for and the amount of money that you paid for the rental car; and
  • One or more quotes from car repair shops listing the amount of time it will take to repair the car and the estimated repair costs.

Before filing your loss of use claim with your car insurance company, you should make sure that you have all of the required paperwork necessary to file your claim. This may help your loss of use claim get processed more quickly.

Should I Hire an Attorney to Help with a Loss of Use Claim?

You may be able to file a loss of use insurance claim on your own. However, there is a lot of paperwork involved in a loss of use claim. For the best and quickest outcome, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney who specializes in insurance law, especially if you are unsure if you have a loss of use claim or if your loss of use claim is denied.