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How do I fix an insurance company's mistake?

Question: If a car insurance company has an accident recorded as at fault for you, and you were not at fault (the other driver was issued a ticket for not yielding), what is your next step?  How do you get the insurer to correct it?

Answer:  Your first step should be to make certain that what the insurer recorded isn’t true in some fashion.

Just because the other driver received a ticket for not yielding doesn’t necessarily mean that you weren’t found by the auto insurance company to be partially at fault for the accident. States have negligence laws (comparative or contributory, depending upon the state) that allow car insurance companies to find both drivers in an accident at fault. I'll spell out the details on that below.

After verifying that you weren't found even partially at fault for the incident, your next step should be to find out where the incorrect information is listed.

If it’s on your driving record, contact your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to discuss the situation and see how a correction can be made.  If it is on your claims history, the place to go is the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which provides insurers with what is known as a C.L.U.E. report.  (See “Scoring high car insurance rates: Inside C.L.U.E and credit scores”)

Information on this loss-history report includes notations on responsibility for an accident: at fault, no fault, undetermined, partial fault or known/unreported. If an insurance company has given the wrong response, it should be an easy fix.

You can obtain your own copy of your C.L.U.E report and see what it has noted for fault.  If you find you’re listed at fault for this incident, then you can follow the instructions LexisNexis Services (which maintains the C.L.U.E. database) has provided for disputing the report. They will verify the information with the insurance company and should get back to you within 30 days.

Are you partly to blame?

Tickets are not the only way insurance companies decide on fault. For instance, the other driver might not have yielded the right of way to you, but you may have been speeding. Even though you didn’t get a ticket for speeding, the other party’s insurance company may have said you were 10% at fault due to your speeding, and their driver was 90% at fault.

If you were placed any percentage at fault, then chances are you would know about it. In comparative negligence states, your claim with the other party’s insurance company would have been reduced by the amount you were found at fault. In contributory states, you would not have been able to receive any payout from the other party’s insurer if you were found even 1 percent at fault.

However, these negligence laws don’t apply when you make a claim under your own collision coverage for your damages. So if you made a claim in this manner, you could have been paid in full even though some blame was placed on you for the incident.

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