We hope your accident was a minor one and no one was hurt. This is a scenario that many go through. In fact, most accidents are minor and usually at least one party is not at fault. On the positive side of the ledger you are not at fault. This article is to help the situations where you have minor damage to your car that was caused by another party. Those small claims can be annoying to settle and CarInsurance.com offers this article to help you through the scenarios.
Let's weave our way through a couple of possibilities that will be helpful to those who have been in this situation, or, we hope not, but could happen in the future.
Fortunately, most accidents are relatively minor, so you should be able to handle the details to your satisfaction. First, let's make the assumption that you had a relatively minor fender bender and that the person who was at fault did have auto insurance. Much depends on the types of car insurance that you have bought and that the at-fault driver has bought.
Usually, the police who are dispatched to your accident scene will fill out the police accident report and their research at the scene will determine who was at fault. It is always recommended to get a police report or a Driver Exchange of Information Form that is provided by the police. The information you will need should be on the accident report, so check it thoroughly and be sure you have the following:
- The other driver's name, address, phone number;
- Their driver's license number;
- The owner of the car's name if not the same as the driver;
- Their name, address, phone number;
- The name of their insurance company;
- Their policy number;
- The phone number of their claims department;
- The other driver should also have your identical information so they can give it to their insurance company when they call in to the claims department.
Ideally, since the other driver was at fault, they should call in the accident to their insurance company within a day or two at most. You should follow up within two to three days by calling the other driver's claims department to see if they have called it in and set it up. Get the claim number assigned from the insurance company if they already made the call and filed the claim.
If they have coverage and have not called it in, then ask their claims department to set up a claim and to send out an adjuster or tell you where to take your vehicle to have a repair estimate. Get this information in either case. Again, get the claims number.
Assuming you have comprehensive and collision insurance on your own auto policy, you as the driver "not at fault" should call in the accident to your insurance company as well so they can set up a claim number. Their job is to help you by seeing to it that the other insurance company fulfills their responsibility and gets your claim paid. If there is any medical claim then you should involve your insurance company.
If you have a policy call the claims number listed on your temporary insurance card, your only policy thank you page or the policy documents you received in the mail. With many companies you can file your claim online, but if it is not your fault you will probably want to file the claim with the at-fault party's insurance company.
In case the other driver, who said they had coverage, actually does not have insurance, your insurance company then will take over and pay for the damage caused to your car, again, assuming you have comprehensive and collision, (also known as Physical Damage) coverage on your policy.
If you do not have comprehensive and collision coverage on your policy, and the other driver does not actually have insurance coverage, then your claim will be unpaid unless the one at fault actually fulfills their financial responsibility, and you will either be the one who pays for the repairs to your vehicle, or you will need to visit your favorite auto claims attorney to help you try to recover from the at-fault party.
Depending upon the state you live in; if you have Property Damage Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, it may cover the accident claim if the other driver does not have insurance.
Here is a word of advice when communicating with the other party's insurance company claims departments. The persons you are dealing with are trained to help you and ask the correct questions to get the information they need in order to expedite your car repairs. Do not get into questions with them about who was at fault or who had liability in the accident. If you are dealing with your own insurance company claims department you can be more open with them, since they are obligated by your policy coverage to take care of your claim. With anyone you talk with be completely honest. They will need the police accident report before they can determine the information required to document the claims payment.
Keep a positive, friendly atmosphere in your conversation. People who call claims departments with attitude will probably not get as good service as those who are calm, patient and friendly. Claims departments deal with thousands of claims over time so help them to help you with a positive, cheerful response.
Some parties who are not at fault will call their insurance company who will then set up a claim and move forward with the repairs on their own vehicle in order to get it done in a timely manner. This is a decision you may need to make if the other party's insurance claims department is slow in handling your claim.
Your auto insurance policy agreement (comp and collision) makes it your insurance company's responsibility to then "subrogate" to the other driver's insurance company to collect the cost of repair and your deductible for you. If your car has a loan on it then it will be mandatory for you to carry Comprehensive and Collision coverage until it is paid off.
In a minor claim that is not your fault the decision process is simple. First, file it with the other insurance company if you can and see if they will quickly repair your damage. Second, file it with your insurance company if the other party wasn't actually covered or if you feel that there will be difficulties getting it filed or paid by the other party (for any reason). Third, file it with both carriers and let them lead you through the process. Lastly, we don't recommend getting paid outside of the claims process because a majority of the time this scenario ends with issues and without proper protection. Good luck in this scenario and we hope you find the help you need with CarInsurance.com's Insurance Tips center.