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Paycheck Chronicles

Reimbursement When Your Car Is Late

You may have heard some news about the new contractor who is handling the shipping and storage of personally owned vehicles (POV).   International Auto Logistics took over the contract for POV transportation in May of this year, and reports of problems have been surfacing ever since.   Amy Bushatz is writing about the problems in the new program, but I'm going to tell you about what is supposed to happen if your vehicle doesn't arrive at the destination Vehicle Processing Center (VPC) by its Required Delivery Date (RDD.)  This part of the process is called an inconvenience claim, and the provisions for handling these situations are set out in the contract.

Vehicle Rental

For the first seven days after a vehicle's RDD, reimbursement for a rental car is provided by the service and is capped at $30 per day.  These claims are made through the same transportation office that handles your travel claims.  There are unsubstantiated reports that IAL will reimburse costs that exceed the $30  per day limit imposed by the services.  These reports have not yet been verified.

After the first seven days,  responsibility for costs reverts to the contractor, IAL.  There are two ways to handle this:  you can rent your own vehicle, and file a claim for reimbursement, or you can have the contractor organize a rental on your behalf. Renting Your Own Vehicle If you decide to rent your own vehicle, keep in mind that there are restrictions.

COVERED:

  • standard or intermediate vehicle rental,
  • Loss/Damage and liability insurance coverage,
  • infant car seats and/or booster seats,
  • any and all concession fees and taxes that are applied to the rental rates, and
  • one additional driver (spouse or family member).
NOT COVERED
  • upgrades,
  • satellite radio,
  • navigation systems/GPS,
  • bike racks or luggage carriers, or
  • fuel costs unless prior approval has been given.
The claims for self-rental can be found at the IAL website.  Claims may be made in person at the delivering VPC or via email at claims@ialpov.us. Letting IAL Get You A Rental The other option is to allow IAL to organize the rental for you, and pay for the rental directly.  This isn't going to be as immediate as renting a vehicle yourself; IAL asks that you allow up to 48 hours to organize a rental.  If you want to proceed this way, you are instructed to email claims@ialpov.us with the details of your situation.  

The IAL representative Amy interviewed said this process would work, and I have confirmed three cases in which customers have (eventually) received rental cars being billed directly to IAL.  From all reports, the biggest hurdle seems to be getting through to the right people who can authorize a car.

If at all possible, I recommend that you pursue this way of getting your rental car.  Even if you've already rented a car yourself, I recommend that you continue trying to get through to someone to authorize a directly-billed rental car for you.  First, it means you're not paying up front and not knowing when you'll be reimbursed.  Second, it provides for the extra insurances that most of us decline to save money.  Third, it makes IAL more aware of just how big a problem they currently have.  You'll probably have to return your current car to take the new car.  In most cases, I think the benefit outweighs the hassle.

Lodging

The contractor is also liable for lodging when a vehicle is not ready by its RDD.  Reimbursement begins one day after the RDD.  Reimbursement is made based upon the location's per diem rates listed in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations.

Claims are made using the same claim form listed above, and can be submitted at the delivering VPC or via email claims@ialpov.us.

Questions Unresolved

There are quite a few questions that are not answered by the contract or the information that has been provided by IAL.  I have requested answers to the following questions:

I got answers, and you can see them here:  Answers From IAL

1.  In what circumstances would a larger car be authorized?  For example, I have four teenagers, plus my husband and me.  Obviously, we don't fit into an intermediate sized vehicle.  (Heck, we don't even fit comfortably in a large vehicle.)

2.  Are there provisions to make intermediate payments while families wait for their vehicles?  For many military families, even a week's vehicle rental will strain their budget.  The military recognizes this with their program of paying for temporary lodging in 10 day increments.  Can you do this for rental vehicles?

3.  For whom are lodging expenses authorized?  A single representative for the family, or the whole family, or any combination?  The website states that lodging is reimbursed at the per diem rates.  Does that refer to the full per diem rates or just the lodging portion?  Does this reimbursement using the same family size calculations as the military, or is there some other system?

4.  What happens when servicemembers are required to proceed to their duty station without their vehicle?  If a service member's car is not ready by its RDD, and they proceed to their duty station, who pays for that transportation?  How do they retrieve their vehicle if they are unable to return to the VPC?  Will the contractor pay to have it delivered to their duty station, or will the contractor pay to store the vehicle until they are able to retrieve it, and pay for vehicle rental for that entire time?  For many servicemembers, it might be months before they are able to return to a distance VPC and drive their POV to their duty station.

If you have additional questions, please list them in the comments, and I'll post the responses as soon as I receive them.

The new contractor, IAL, appears to be significantly understaffed and is not responding to emails and telephone calls in a timely fashion.  However, this does not mean that they will not be fulfilling their obligations under this contract. From the stories I've heard, it seems you just have to keep calling and calling until you reach an actual person, and then act very forcefully and refuse to take no for an answer.

If your vehicle is not available at the VPC by its RDD, you have rights and are eligible for reimbursement for certain expenses incurred as a result of that delay.  I will continue to try to clear up parts of the rules that are confusing, and keep you updated on any developments as they occur.

Resource:  Chart for required transit times per the POV contract:   http://images-paycheck-chronicles.military.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Attachment-4-Transit-Times.pdf?5ececd

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