If you ever have the misfortune of being involved in a car accident, presuming that you and your passengers are unharmed, your thoughts will naturally drift to the financial loss from the possible damage to the car.
Knowing what to do next can be quite tough, particularly if you feel you weren’t at fault. You can have plans ranging from suing the other driver to contacting your auto insurance provider to considering purchasing a new vehicle.
After a car accident, regardless of who is at fault, you should do the following:
If anyone involved in the accident has been hurt, dial 911. If the cars are seriously damaged, you might also want to notify the police even if no one has been wounded so you can obtain a police record.
With the driver, trade insurance details.
If the other driver doesn’t object, take pictures of both your automobile and their car as well. Everyone’s insurance will benefit from this.
Avoid assigning responsibility. Avoid blaming either yourself or the other motorist. Let the insurance companies handle this.
How Does Car Insurance Play Out When You’re Not at Fault?
You should get the other driver’s details at the site of an accident you didn’t cause so you can file a claim against their liability insurance. By doing this, the claim appears on their insurance record rather than your own. Inform your insurer of the accident if you have collision coverage, medical payments coverage, or Personal Injury Protection (PIP or MedPay), which can assist cover medical costs following a car accident that ends in harm. You can file a claim with your insurance provider if the other driver has no insurance or only has little coverage.
What is a Third Party Claim?
When you submit an insurance claim to the insurance provider of another driver, this is known as a third-party claim. The other at-fault motorist, the other driver’s insurance provider, and you are all involved in this scenario. You are regarded as a third party.
The other driver’s state-mandated liability insurance coverage will typically cover damage to your automobile, property damage, and medical expenses for injuries up to the policy’s limit if you are not at fault in a car accident. This is especially helpful if the coverage provided by your policy is insufficient. However, in no-fault jurisdictions, you would submit a claim with your own insurance company regardless of who was found to be at fault for the collision.
How Does a Third Party Insurance Claim Work?
The at-fault driver’s liability coverage is used in the third-party insurance claim, also known as a liability claim, to pay for losses and injuries. The third-party insurance can be used to file claims for lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of your injuries, medical expenses, car repairs, rental cars, and vehicle maintenance. The state in which you are and the other person’s insurance coverage are the two main determinants of all these claims. However, the way third-party insurance claims are handled varies depending on whether a state has no-fault insurance or not.
If you reside in a state that provides no-fault insurance, you can submit a claim with your own insurer for medical insurance following an automobile accident. You can file a third-party insurance claim for property damage and medical expenses in states without no-fault insurance.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that the policy of the driver who caused the accident will only support covering your repairs up to the limits of their coverage. Consider, for one, that the competing insurance company values your $50,000 car as a total loss. You might have to come up with $10,000 on your own to replace your car if the other driver’s insurance has a $40,000 cap.
How Do You File Third Party Insurance Claims?
You submit a third-party claim with the insurance of another driver. You are the third party, as was mentioned. Due to the fact that you are filing a claim under a policy that excludes you from coverage, you are referred to as the third party.
The procedures for making a third-party insurance claim are listed below.
Gather The Relevant Information
It is the other driver’s responsibility to notify their auto insurance provider of the collision. You might want to get in touch with the other driver’s insurance provider as well, unless your insurance agent makes it plain that they’ll be doing so. Accident-causing drivers are frequently unwilling to report them.
At the accident scene, it’s critical to gather all the necessary information on the other party. Collect these things:
The other driver’s name and address
The insurance company name and policy information of other driver
Statements and contact information from any witnesses
Take snapshots of the accident scene — The majority of smartphone cameras are adequate. It would be ideal if you could capture the cars in their natural state as soon as the collision has occurred. Take pictures of the damage to each vehicle and move if necessary for safety reasons.
You can print and keep in your car the Wreck Check auto accident checklist provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. You can gather and share the right information with the aid of your phone.
The accident’s cause may also be understood by looking at satellite photographs of the intersection or accident site on a Google map. Additionally, if you have a dashcam, make careful to locate and retain any video of the collision so you may show it to the insurance provider. That is especially useful if the at-fault driver refuses to acknowledge liability to their insurance company.
Inform the Right People
First, let the other party’s insurance company know that you were in a collision with one of its insured. relay simply the accident’s facts. It’s impolite to directly blame the other driver even if you think the other motorist is at blame. Rather, provide the evidence to the insurer proving their driver is at blame and accountable for your damages. That will make you appear much more credible.
Even if you might not have been at fault for the collision, you should nonetheless get in touch with your insurance provider. This proves that you made a good-faith effort to report the accident, which can be helpful if you need to file a collision claim after the other party’s insurer disputes liability for the collision or their insurance was invalid at the time of the incident.
Car insurance companies occasionally request that you get their approval before moving forward with vehicle repairs and damage treatments. Before proceeding with repairs, at the very least, confirm that the insurance provider has acknowledged liability and obtain that consent in writing or via email.
Keep in mind that an insurance provider cannot compel you to take your car to a particular shop for repairs. The majority of states permit auto insurers to suggest specific auto body shops, but they are not permitted to compel you to utilize a particular repair facility. Your decision is yours.
The Potential Legal Aspect
The insurance company for the at-fault driver may advise you to request payment from your own insurer because it lacks proof of the policyholder’s culpability. Although it is against the law in the majority of states for an insurer to reject claims without logically examining the facts, you might not want to take the other person’s insurance company to court.
If your insurer receives a claim from you and determines that the other motorist was at fault, it will probably decide to pursue compensation against the other insurance provider. However, if you choose to take on the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your own, you’ll need legal representation, particularly if you’ve been gravely hurt. You can negotiate the occasionally complex insurance laws with the aid of an attorney. But bear in mind that any settlement you obtain with the help of an attorney will be subject to their fee.
Even though you may have evidence of the other driver’s negligence, and they may have even admitted it at the scene, their vehicle insurance company might still reject your claim. Why? Because they presumably gave a version of what happened that conflicts with your account. It’s possible that their insurer is using that excuse to refuse to pay for your claim.
Even when the policyholder’s assertions conflict with the police report, the insurance company may occasionally side with its policyholder.
When to File a Claim with Your Own Carrier
If you have the appropriate coverages, you can file a claim with your insurance provider for the reimbursement of damages and injuries even if you’re not at fault.
In the event that you have collision coverage, submit a claim to your own provider. It will cover the price of your vehicle’s repairs or total loss. This course of action entails paying your collision deductible toward repairs. If your insurer is successful in reaching a settlement with the other driver’s insurance provider, you might be able to recover that money back.
You can file a claim for the damage to your vehicle if it turns out that the other driver was driving without insurance and you have UMPD (uninsured motorist coverage property damage). UMPD claims often have no deductible.
Do Insurance Rates Go Up After an Accident Caused by a Third Party
If you file a claim under your own insurance policy for an accident that wasn’t your fault, your vehicle insurance premiums won’t necessarily go up at renewal time.
The majority of state regulations forbid insurers from increasing policyholders’ premium costs or surcharging them for accidents for which they were not at fault. However, if you’ve filed a few recent claims of any kind, such laws do not prevent your insurer from canceling your coverage at renewal time.
What If the At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance is Insufficient?
You can count on the at-fault driver’s insurance company to cover your lost income if you miss work due to an injury you incurred in a car accident. However, their policy will include a cap on how much you may get back in lost pay.
Assuming a driver hits you and their liability limitations are insufficient to pay for all of your medical costs and lost earnings, you may be able to file a claim for the remaining costs under your own underinsured motorist coverage, if you have it. In a no-fault state, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will compensate your lost wages up to the policy’s maximums.
Your car should be worth the real monetary value it had before it was totaled when another driver damages it beyond economical repair. Actual cash value is defined by the industry as replacement cost less depreciation. The cost of replacement is what it would cost to buy a car that is comparable to yours. The amount that your car has lost in value over time is known as depreciation.
The sales tax on the new car you buy with insurance money should also be covered by the insurer. For further information, see What to Do When Your Auto Insurance Totals Your Car.
Understand Your Injury Coverage
In the majority of states, you would file a claim with the auto insurer of the party who was at blame for your injuries. If they don’t have insurance, you can file a claim with your health insurance or, if you have it, your own uninsured motorist bodily injury policy.
Some states have significantly different laws about how to receive compensation for your injuries following an accident and require you to acquire Personal Injury Protection (PIP). For instance, even if you weren’t at fault for the collision, your PIP coverage will cover your medical costs and missed wages. You must submit a claim under your own insurance policy in order to get your PIP compensation. When you make use of your PIP coverages, a deductible and/or copayment can be required.
Although the laws in each no-fault state vary, this is frequently the case in them. You may be able to recoup medical costs that were not covered by your PIP in some no-fault states by getting in touch with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In no-fault states, you could still make a claim against the at-fault party’s liability insurance for property damage to your vehicle (except Michigan where special rules apply).
Twelve states, including Puerto Rico, have no-fault insurance legislation, according to the Insurance Information Institute: Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. If you reside in one of these states, it is smart to inquire about handling third-party accident claims with your insurance agent or state insurance department.
Reimbursements for rental car fees are sometimes the first to go when insurance companies are looking for ways to reduce the cost of a claim by a few dollars.
Accident victims are frequently informed by insurance companies that they can only rent cars for a specific sum per day. You have the right to recover the costs related to repairing the inconvenience you endure as a result of someone else’s negligence, including all rental car expenses incurred while your own vehicle is being fixed.
Rent appropriately to avoid having to cover a portion of a lease. Additionally, if your personal insurance policy includes coverage for damage to rental cars, avoid purchasing a collision damage waiver from the rental business.
If you rent in a reasonable manner and the insurer wishes to underpay you for your rental reimbursement, request a written explanation from the insurer. You must receive written notice from insurers when they decide to stop or reduce payments.
Know What You Can Get
It is helpful to be aware of your state’s prompt-payment statute. The statute of limitations for when an insurer must send you a check for your damages is laid down in every state’s unfair claims settlement practices laws. We offer more information on the benefits of the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act in your state.
State-by-state laws can be very different, with some just requiring “prompt” payment of claims while others specify a number of days and the interest you’ll be charged if the insurance doesn’t pay within that time frame.
One more thing to bear in mind: If you file a claim against the insurance of another driver rather than your own insurance policy, you may not have the same protections under unfair claims settlement practices acts.
Writing a direct letter outlining your expectations and rights to the at-fault party’s insurance company is a sensible move. It will highlight the insurer’s obligations under public policy if you tell the insurer that you expect it to cover all reasonable expenses you incur as a result of the accident, such as payment for repairs to or the total-loss value of your vehicle, diminished value of your car, medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and rental-car costs.
Keep a record of all correspondence, including the dates and names of the customer support representatives.