Car Insurance Claims and Who’s Fault Is It?

I had lunch with a client of mine on Wednesday in Richardson to discuss commercial insurance for a new venture he’s starting. When we were done, I left the restaurant and headed to my next appointment in Dallas. I got onto the frontage road of North Central Expressway headed toward Campbell Road but had to navigate around a head-on collision in the U-turn lane underneath Central. Somehow one of the cars was headed the wrong way on a one way U-turn under the freeway when it met a car attempting to get onto the southbound frontage road.

In cases like this it’s easy to assume the person driving the wrong way on a one way section of the frontage road is 100% at fault (I’m still trying to figure out how they managed to do this). But, as long as I’ve been an insurance agent, I’ve seen some pretty crazy decisions by claims adjusters for a variety of car insurance companies.

The ones that mystify me the most are when a company attempts to split responsibility between the person who’s been hit and the person who caused the accident. How does a claim adjuster truly determine one party is 20%, 30%, or some other percentage at fault while the other party shares the remaining percentage of blame? The only case I’m aware of is one I experienced personally.

I was backing out of a parking space in front of an office building years ago and didn’t see the person backing up alongside the sidewalk. Our bumpers connected resulting in little body damage, but our carriers ended up saying we shared liability on a 50% basis since we were both backing up at the same time. That one I understand, but some of the others make no sense.

One such example is a client of mine was driving a vehicle north on Stemmons Freeway, or I-35, near downtown, when a pickup truck with a trailer experienced a blowout of one of the trailers tires. The trailer went one way, the driver of the pickup truck attempted a corrective driving move, but hit my client’s vehicle. The insurance company for the pickup truck driver attempted to claim my client had the opportunity to avoid the pickup truck but didn’t (making them 80% at fault) and then denied my client’s claim.

When an instance like this arises, it’s usually the result of an insurance company attempting to shift the blame and liability from their client to the other party. In cases like this, you can either accept the other company’s attempt to spread the blame or you can push back.

I advised my client push back and file a claim with the insurance company I’d written for him. My client followed my advice and filed a claim. The adjuster reviewed the facts, agreed the other party was at fault, and then subrogated against the other company, who in turn paid for the full repair of my client’s vehicle. By pushing back, my client was not found to be at fault which saved them a lot on their claim, as well as their upcoming renewal. That’s worth fighting for!

Sometimes, the other party really is to blame for the accident and you’re not. In these cases, it’s important to have an agent who will review the facts with you and discuss how to work within the system for the correct outcome. What do you think? Share your comments, questions, and experiences with me on my Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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