What to do if we were in a car accident which was not our fault and our case is almost complete with our insurer, except for one bill?

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What to do if we were in a car accident which was not our fault and our case is almost complete with our insurer, except for one bill?

They refuse to pay for the rental of a jig used to do the repair on our vehicle. Their reason is that it is a “cost of doing business” and the auto shop’s responsibility to have the tools necessary to complete the job. There is nothing in the original scope of work about paying for equipment rental. The auto shop says we will be liable to pay the $1600 bill if insurer doesn’t. Are we liable to pay for their equipment rental?

Asked on January 3, 2013 under Accident Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The insurer is typically not liable to pay for this: they are not obligated to pay for the auto shop's costs or equipment, and they are right in that it is a basic "cost of doing business" for an auto shop to have all necessary equipment. Just as the insurer does not need to pay the shop's rent, internet bills, worker's compensation, etc., it does not need to pay for the auto  shop  to have the equipment it needs.

If this $1,600 cost was disclosed to you prior to you agreeing to use this shop, then you most likely have to pay it--you would have agreed to the cost. If the fact that the auto shop needed to rent additional equipment for  $1,600 was not disclosed to before hand, however, you should not be liable--they would have, in essence, committed fraud by not disclosing to you that they did not have the equipment necessary to repair your car.

Note one exception to the above: if the $1,600 cost was part of the total cost quoted to the insurer which the insurer accepted, then they would seem to have to honor it: having accepted the total cost, it's not a problem if that total cost anticipated equipment rental. It's if this was an additional cost to rent equipment, not part of the original quote, that the insurer would have good grounds to not pay.


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