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NJ Residents Who Lost Cars to Ida Get Discounted Ride-Share Trips

New Jersey announced that residents who lost their cars in the floods caused by Tropical Storm Ida can get free and discounted Uber and Lyft rides for the next two weeks. In some cases, insurance may cover costs as well.

(TNS) — New Jersey drivers who lost their cars in flash floods caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida can get free and discounted Uber and Lyft rides for the next two weeks under a partnership with the rideshare companies and United Way, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday.

The program adds to coverage for alternative transportation that insurance companies offer to customers who have coverage that includes flooding and paying for rental cars or other transportation.

“In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida, we must come together as a community and pick one another up,” Murphy said in a statement. “I want to thank both Uber and Lyft for their generous offer of transportation for New Jerseyans in need.”

Under the program, during the next two weeks state residents who lost a vehicle and need help traveling to essential services can text NJIDARIDE to 898-211 to request a Lyft or Uber ride. Residents without access to a smartphone can dial 2-1-1 from any phone line.

The announcement comes as rental car companies are struggling to keep up with demand for vehicles after the storm.

“We can confirm we are seeing increases in replacement vehicle reservations as customers assess the damage to their personal vehicles from the recent storm,” said Lisa Martini, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings, which owns Enterprise, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car. “A significant weather disaster like the one we just witnessed will typically produce an increase in insurance claims several days and weeks after the storm has passed.”

Similar to their customers, rental car companies also lost vehicles during Ida.

“Given the strength of the storm that hit the Northeast, we too sustained damage to some of our own locations and vehicles,” Martini said. “We are continuing to assess the damage to those vehicles that have not (been) returned to us, and we are working quickly to move vehicles around from our network of locations to accommodate the local need.”

Drivers should check their insurance policy or with their carrier to determine what’s covered, said Christine O’Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey.

Only customers who paid for rental coverage as part of their auto insurance policy are eligible for rental reimbursement, while their vehicle is being repaired, she said. The amount that an insurer would pay for a rental vehicle can be used for any form of transportation expense, including a ride share service, bus or taxi, she said.

But that varies by company, some restrict the rental coverage to rental vehicles, O’Brien said.

A good place to check what you’re covered for is on the policy Declaration Page, which is the “summary” of your coverages that accompanies your policy, consumers can find what they’ve purchased, she said.

“Save the receipts,” O’Brien said. “No matter what expense people incur as a result of an accident, or in the case of a disaster, they should save their receipts because certain expenses may be eligible for reimbursement from an insurer.”

“NJM auto policies with comprehensive and collision coverage include transportation expense coverage. This coverage is not limited to rental vehicles – it can be applied to ride share services, as well as taxis, and public transportation,” said Linda Coles, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance.

Other insurance providers said they’ve made arrangements to connect customers to rental cars.

“As part of our catastrophe response, State Farm monitors rental capacity in impacted areas,” said Justin Tomczak, a State Farm spokesman. “State Farm has agreements with national rental providers which supports our timely customer response efforts and rental car availability.”

Liberty Mutual is doing something similar for its customers.

“We assist our customers with finding rental cars and also reimburse customers for all forms of alternative transportation – such as rental cars, ride shares, taxi or public transit – during the claims process in accordance with what’s covered by the insurance policy,” said Gregory Kessler, a liberty Mutual spokesman.

The two-week ride share program could be a lifeline for people whose cars were damaged or destroyed by flood waters and not covered by insurance.

“Nobody should have to worry after a natural disaster how they will get to essential places like the grocery store and medical appointments,” Lisa Boyd, Lyft social impact director, said in a statement. “Lyft is proud to join Governor Murphy in helping New Jerseyans get where they need to go until they can get back on their feet.”

Neither Lyft or Uber responded to emails about the effect of the storm on its drivers and how the companies were handling the loss of ride share vehicles.

“It is critical that everyone come together to support those in need and we are proud to work with Governor Murphy to provide essential transportation services across the state,” Alix Anfang, an Uber spokesperson, said in a release.” We hope to play a small role in helping New Jersey residents get back on their feet.”

The damage from Ida could be worsened by thunderstorms predicted for this afternoon, which could result in flash flooding in parts of the state.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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