If All Else Fails Look To Your Insurer: When To File A Claim To Your Own Carrier
Even if you’re not at fault, you can make a claim with your insurance company for payment of damages and injuries — if you have the right coverages.
If you have collision insurance, file a claim with your own carrier. It will pay for the cost of repairs or total loss of your vehicle. If you take this approach, you will have to pay your collision deductible toward repairs. However, you may get that money back if your insurer is able to settle with the other driver’s insurance company.
If it turns out the other driver is uninsured and you have uninsured motorist coverage property damage , you can make a claim for your vehicles damage. There is normally no deductible for UMPD claims.
How Much Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Should You Have
You should get limits that match the value of assets you have, or the highest limits you can afford. That’s because if your car insurance isn’t enough to pay for the damage you cause, the other driver may take you to court and sue for the remainder. If the judges rule in their favor, your assets will have to be liquidated to pay for the court damages.
- If you have limited assets â meaning you don’t have a lot of money stored in bank accounts, retirement accounts or other funds â it’s likely that the other party will be willing to settle a claim for what the insurance company pays out. You don’t have as much risk in a lawsuit when there are fewer assets to spare.
- On the other hand, if you are wealthy or have savings or investments, your financial risk and exposure in an accident increases. If you pick low limits, more of your assets are exposed when an accident results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
Because wealthier people may be bigger targets for lawsuits, we recommend higher coverage limits for higher net worth individuals, as a higher policy limit will cover more of the claims brought against your bodily injury protection. The next thing to consider is how to find the cheapest car insurance for the coverage you need.
> > LEARN MORE: How Much Liability Coverage Do I Need?
Auto Body Repair Shops
Under California Insurance Code §758.5 an insurance company cannot require that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop. However, an insurance company can recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop under the following conditions outlined by law:
- The consumer specifically requests a recommendation from the insurance company to a repair shop.
- The consumer has been informed in writing of the right to select a repair shop of his or her choice.
- If the consumer agrees to use the recommended repair shop, the insurance company must restore the damaged vehicle to its condition prior to the accident or loss with no additional cost other than as stated in the policy or as otherwise allowed by law.
- If the company makes an oral recommendation to a repair shop, and it is accepted by the consumer, then the company must follow the oral recommendation with the prescribed written notice within five calendar days as specified by law.
If the vehicle is repaired in a shop chosen by the consumer, then the insurance company must pay the reasonable costs to repair the vehicle made in accordance with accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike automotive repairs.
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At The Scene Of A Hit
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, immediately move your car to a safe location if necessary, and check whether anyone is injured. Then, call 911 so that anyone who needs medical attention can receive it, and the police can come and take a report.
The more detail you can provide to the police, the better. Try to note of every detail you can, especially the following:
- Car make, model and color
- Unique or identifying marks on the car, like bumper stickers or dents
- License plate number
- Driver’s appearance
- Circumstances of the crash
Try to collect any evidence of the other driver even if they are already gone. For example, look for evidence of their vehicle, such as a paint scrape on the impact point or a broken-off piece of the other car’s body. Ask nearby witnesses for more detail and to corroborate that the other driver fled. Take pictures of your car and the accident scene as well.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage /underinsured Motorist Coverage
This covers you if you are in an accident with a driver who does not have any liability insurance, or is underinsured.
The insurance company must offer you this coverage. If you choose not to buy it, you must sign a form, called a waiver. The form says you were offered the coverage and turned it down.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury : This pays for injuries to you and any person in your car when there is an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault. The limits are the same as your liability coverage limits.
- Underinsured motorist :This covers limited costs for bodily injury if you are in an accident with a driver who does not have enough insurance to pay for damage
- Uninsured motorist property damage : This pays for the damage to your car from an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault. The limit is $3,500. This only pays if the uninsured driver is identified. You may not need it if you have collision coverage.
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Pick Your Battles Wisely
The at-fault driver’s insurer may tell you to seek payment from your own insurer because it has no evidence of its policyholder’s fault. Although most states have made it illegal for an insurer to deny claims without reasonably investigating the facts, or to deny claims when its liability is reasonably clear, you may not want to fight the other person’s insurance company.
If you make a claim with your insurer, it likely will choose to fight the other insurance company for compensation if it finds that the other driver is at fault.
If you decide to fight the at-fault driver’s insurer on your own you’ll need a lawyer especially if you’ve been seriously injured. An attorney can help you navigate the sometimes-murky laws that govern insurance. But keep in mind that if you hire an attorney, he will take a cut of any settlement he helps you get.
You may have evidence of the other driver’s fault maybe he even admitted it at the scene yet you find your claim denied by his auto insurance company. Why? Because he probably told a version of how the accident happened that doesn’t square with yours. His insurer may stand behind that story in order to avoid paying your claim.
Sometimes the insurance company will take its policyholder’s position, even if it contradicts the police report.
What Does Bodily Injury Liability Cost
The cost of adding this to your policy varies by state and by insurers. Rates depend on other factors as well. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $170 a month.
Paying a couple hundred bucks a month is better than having to deal with potential out of pocket expenses for an accident.
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Consider Your Net Worth
How much liability insurance you need can also depend on your net worth. If you have a lot of assets such as a house, car or sizable bank account and not much debt, you may want to purchase more liability insurance to cover your net worth and prevent assets from being taken in a judgment. You may even want to consider an umbrella insurance policy to provide extra liability coverage.
At The Scene Of An Accident
Protecting your ability to sue someone else starts at the scene of the accident. Its good to have an accident checklist to help you gather the right information.
If youre involved in a car accident, the first thing to do is step back, catch your breath and make sure you and your passengers havent been injured. Soft tissue injuries are a concern even in a bumper-bump, and injuries raise the stakes for an insurance claim.
Assuming there are no injuries, it will still be stressful for both parties to the accident. Try to minimize road rage in the inevitable exchange of driver information. Pull your car over to a safe spot if possible. Dont stand on a crowded or high-speed road unless you have to. And if possible, stay inside the car, dial 911 and wait for the police.
If the parties are reasonable, make sure they get what they need to file a claim, and that you do as well. Someone else really only needs your insurance information from your insurance ID card. Many insurers provide a car accident checklist in their mobile apps, or print one out and keep it in the glove compartment.
Make sure to verify the responding police officers name and badge number, which could be scrawled illegibly on any document you receive. Obtain a copy of the police report as soon as it is filed, and check for accuracy.
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Does Car Insurance Cover A Hit
Whether your car is hit while parked or youâre in a collision while driving, thereâs always a chance of becoming the victim of a hit-and-run, which is when the other driver takes off without giving you their information. If you have underinsured/uninsured motorist property coverage in your auto policy it may be able to help reimburse you for some of the damages from a hit-and-run.
Your collision coverage may also protect you if you are victim to a hit-and-run. However, collision insurance requires a deductiblebefore coverage can kick in. If the repairs cost less than yourdeductible, you might be better off paying out of pocket. That said, you still need to let your insurance company know about the hit-and-run.
Personal injury protection, or PIP, is another coverage component of auto insurance required in many states. It covers medical bills, as well as other expenses you might accrue while injured, such as lost wages. Like collision insurance, personal injury protection covers you regardless of who was at fault in an accident, and it may also cover you if you or your passengers sustain injuries in a hit-and-run.
Insurance To Use If Someone Hits Your Parked Car
If your car is hit while parked, you can use your collision insurance or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay for the damage. Both types of coverage typically have a deductible, though, which means youll probably pay something out of pocket to get your car fixed. Youll also be subject to your policy limits, so youll be responsible for any cost that exceeds your coverage terms.
Finally, its important to note that uninsured motorist property damage coverage is not available in some states. And in other states where it is available, you might be unable to use it if the at-fault driver is unidentified.
If your car is totaled and you only have liability insurance, you will have to pay to replace the vehicle yourself or file a claim with the other drivers insurance company. Liability coverage alone does not protect your car in any way, just injuries and damage you may cause to others. You need to have read full answercollision, comprehensive, or new car replacement coverage if you want your insurance company to pay to replace a totaled car. However, if your vehicle is damaged or totaled in an accident that isnt your fault, you should make a claim on the at-fault partys property damage liability policy to get your car repaired or replaced.
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How Do I Know If I Have Liability Or Full Coverage
The difference between liability and full coverage insurance is that liability insurance only covers other peoples injuries and vehicle damage, while full coverage also covers your own vehicle. Liability insurance is required in most states, while full coverage is only required if you lease or finance a car.
Why Should You Consider More Rather Than Less Liability Insurance
While most states require drivers to carry basic liability insurance, which offers the minimum coverage limits required by law, its a good idea to purchase higher coverage limits than your state requires.
Why? Lets say you were distracted while backing out of a parking space and you didnt see a car behind you that happened to be driving by. And then you hit that car, slightly injuring the driver and her passenger.
After an investigation, youre determined to be at fault for the accident. Your auto liability coverage will pay for the damage to the car you hit as well as for the medical bills from the injuries sustained by the driver and the passenger, including pain and suffering, and lost wages.
If the damages you cause exceed the liability limits you have chosen, you could find yourself personally liable for all of the costs due that exceed the amount your insurance policy can pay. If youre unable to pay those bills, it could result in garnished wages, liens against owned assets and even court fees.
To fully understand the difference between minimum liability coverage and the amount of coverage you may actually need, contact a State Farm agent.
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Does Liability Insurance Cover My Car If Someone Hits Me
Liability insurance does not cover your car if another driver causes an accident. In this case, the other partys insurance should take care of your damages. You can also purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance in case you are hit by a driver who does not have sufficient liability insurance. If you have collision insurance, you may also be able to pay your deductible and have your collision coverage pay for the rest of the damages to your car.
Combined Single Limit Liability
An alternative to split limit liability coverage is one larger liability limit to cover both bodily injury and property damage. The flexibility of combined single limit liability means more financial protection than split limit coverage in many cases.
For example, lets compare the split liability limit above with a combined single limit of $60,000. Say you injured two people in an accident, and one required $10,000 worth of treatment while the other required $50,000. Under the split liability limit, youd have to pay $20,000 for the second persons injuries because their treatment exceeded your policys per-person maximum. But with a combined $60,000 liability limit, all treatment would be covered.
Combined single limit liability may cost more than split limits.
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Do You Have The Right To A Rental Car After An Accident
Kopischke v. Chicago, St. P., M. & O. Ry. Co., 230 Minn. 23, 40 N.W.2d 834 established the victims right to a rental car. In the case, the defendants truck was stuck on the rail crossing during a snowstorm. Fortunately, the defendant was not in the vehicle when it got hit.
Still, the responsibility falls with the train company. They must maintain the railroad tracks including the road crossings. The defendant used his truck for the farm. The court ruled the train company responsible for the new vehicle and the rental while waiting for the insurance payment.
The precedent-setting case established the right to ask for rental fees paid as part of the settlement.
Is There Car Insurance If You Don’t Own A Car
If you dont own a car but borrow your friends car to get around, you may want to explore non-owners car insurance.
Non-owners car insurance is typically an option for high-risk drivers. An insurance company may require buying extra liability coverage to maintain a drivers license. People who frequently borrow cars can also get this coverage. That way, you have continuous car insurance coverage, which an insurance company looks for when setting rates. If you have a gap of a few years of car insurance coverage, a company may charge you much higher rates than if you always have insurance.
Non-owners insurance costs much less than a standard auto insurance policy. Car insurance companies charge an average of $474 for a non-owners insurance policy.
Also, divers with DUI convictions may be required to carry an SR-22.
An SR-22 is a certificate of insurance for drivers who have been convicted of serious driving offenses, such as DUIs, reckless driving and driving without insurance. A state may require that drivers convicted of those offenses file an SR-22 to keep their license and get behind the wheel.
The average cost of a non-owners policy with an SR-22 after one DUI conviction is $1,752.
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How Common Are Hit
Those figures don’t take into account the myriad hit and runs that result in just property damage or only minor injuries. A dinged fender in a parking lot — with no note under the windshield wiper — is a hit and run, too. A 2010 Allstate report found that 69% of its hit-and-run claims were from incidents involving parked cars.
The Insurance Costs Of Filing A Claim For A Hit
Unfortunately, if you can’t identify the driver who hit you and file a collision insurance claim, you’ll be responsible for paying your own deductible, even if you weren’t at fault.
However, California law has specific requirements about when insurers can raise rates. The law expressly states that your insurance rates cannot go up after a hit-and-run claim, so long as you make your claim within a “reasonable time” of the accident.
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the authorâs opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
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