The Supreme Court in the resolution of seven judges of 17 November 2011 (ref. No. III CZP 5/11) ruled that the liability of the insurer under the compulsory liability insurance of motor vehicle owners covers any necessary and economically justified costs of rental of a substitute vehicle, whereby the costs should meet the applicable rates in the local market.
The insurer’s liability is not dependent on the injured party’s inability to use public transport. In the opinion of the Supreme Court, a car, in a more versatile and functional manner, satisfies the owner’s living needs.
Despite this, the injured party would not always be entitled to effectively enforce from the insurance company reimbursement of the costs of renting a substitute vehicle during the period when their vehicle was being repaired.
The scope of the insurer’s liability generally includes the costs of renting a substitute vehicle of the same type as that damaged , for the time required to repair or purchase a new vehicle.
According to the Supreme Court, the insurer may refuse to pay compensation for rental of a substitute vehicle, if the injured party did not use the substitute vehicle or has another car which may be used. The refusal to pay compensation may also occur in the case of the occasional use of a replacement vehicle – in such case it may be cheaper to use taxis.
The insurer shall be responsible for proving that the substitute vehicle is redundant to the injured party or that the rental period was too long in relation to the real needs of the victim. The second case especially raises many objections and disputes. According to the insurers, the insured party is entitled to reimbursement of the cost of renting only for the period when the damaged car was being repaired, i.e. the technical repair time. Whereas, according to the insured parties, the insurer should take into account the whole period when the car was not in use by the owner (for example technical testing time, waiting for parts transport, transporting the damaged car to a repair workshop). In accordance with judicial decisions, the period of the rental, which is a consequence of the passive behaviour of the insured party at the start of the car repair or delay in car repair caused by the repair workshop cannot be borne by the insurer.