It is often incredibly frustrating to deal with the headache of how to get your car fixed after an auto accident. The frustration is only heightened when the accident wasn’t even your fault! Luckily, you have a few options depending on what you want or need to accomplish. Do you want to avoid paying anything out of pocket? Or do you need to get into a rental car as soon as possible? Would you prefer to take a rideshare company and keep your receipts? Or are you able to work from home and can wait for the insurance company to determine liability?
If the insurance company is taking a while to pay you for your wrecked car, you can always call an attorney and see if they are able to help you!
After a wreck that wasn’t your fault, it’s easy to get irritated with how slow the process can take. The insurance company should make things right, and they should do it quickly. After all, you didn’t ask for any of this. It’s important to understand that – like it or not - insurance companies have time to investigate the accident. The investigation typically involves gathering statements from all parties involved, talking to witnesses, taking photographs of the scene, ordering the police report, inspecting the vehicles, etc. Central to their investigation is obtaining a recorded statement from their driver. If they aren’t able to reach them on the phone, they will make some steps to try to reach contact and will put off accepting liability until they do so.
Obviously, the insurance company is not as motivated to reach a decision quickly as you are. You must stay on top of them regularly during this period, so they move your case forward and don’t just leave it gathering dust on their desk. In addition to investigating liability, they also need to confirm active coverage for the driver and vehicle at the time of the crash. This simply means that the insured is up to date on his payments, that his policy hadn’t lapsed, and that the person driving the vehicle was covered under the policy.
All of these things take time. Why does it matter? It matters because the insurance company will not issue payment of any type until liability is accepted. This means they won’t pay for the towing fees, a rental car, getting your car fixed, or paying for your medical bills.
If you caused the accident, your insurance company will have to pay for the damage done to your car, the other person’s car, and any other losses sustained by the other person if they were injured. Important to note, if you’re responsible for the crash, then you will have to pay your deductible to get your vehicle repaired. On the other hand, if the accident was caused by the other person, then their insurance company will have to pay for your vehicle and your injuries.
Things can get a lot messier when liability isn’t clear cut. Sometimes insurance companies aren’t able to easily determine liability. For example, let’s say that you’re both at a stop sign and proceed through an intersection.
When this happens, the insurance companies will assign a percentage of liability to both drivers and pay that percentage of damage as long as their driver is at least 50% responsible. For example, if the insurance company determines that their driver was 75% at fault, then they will only pay 75% of what it costs to repair your vehicle and any other damages that you sustained in the crash
Keep in mind, you don’t need to accept their lability decision. All liability determinations can be fought so long as there is corroborating evidence to support your claim. If you’re having an issue with the insurance company, call an experienced accident attorney to discuss your options!
If liability is disputed or there are multiple drivers involved, then filing a claim with your insurance company will help you get back on the road faster. If you have rental coverage, your insurance company can put you in a car until your vehicle is fixed and ready to go. You’ll be expected to pay your deductible up front but should get it reimbursed so long as liability is accepted by the other insurance company. Once your property damage claim is processed, your insurance company will file a claim with the other carrier to get their money back as well as your deductible. Filing a claim with your insurance company is especially helpful if your vehicle is in a tow yard. Those storage fees add up quickly and after a few days, you’re on the hook for the payments!
Sometimes the insurance company will take a long time to investigate. Your personal auto insurance may not cover getting you a rental car. You might have to pay out of pocket for the costs, whether it’s a rideshare solution or getting into a rental vehicle. Keep the receipts and you can ask the insurance company to reimburse you when their liability investigation is finalized.
Insurance companies are busy. They don’t have the time or means to dedicate hours a day trying to finalize the liability for just your case. If you feel like they aren’t going quickly enough, call an attorney. Sometimes an attorney can help speed them up.
If the facts surrounding the crash are fairly straight forward, then the liability investigation may be resolved quickly. In this case, you don’t have to involve your insurance carrier. In either scenario, get an attorney involved ASAP to conduct an independent investigation and force the insurance companies to act in your best interest.