Early in my insurance career, I was attending a larger party with a number of friends when a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. Her husband, who was coming in their other car, had been involved in an accident not far from where we were gathered and she did not know what to do. We left the party together in her car and I drove us to where the accident had occurred, a southbound service road of North Central Expressway in Dallas.
We arrived at the accident scene in time to talk with the Dallas Police officers and two truck operator. The wife gave instructions on where her husband’s truck was to be taken while I talked with one of the police officers who confirmed the driver had been taken to a nearby hospital.
My friend and I headed to the hospital to check on her husband. The good news was he wasn’t badly hurt; he would be sore for a few days as well as a little tender where he’d had some cuts and abrasions stitched and bandaged, but overall he was very lucky. His wife and I were very happy he would be ok.
He’d been traveling southbound through an intersection when he was struck on the passenger side of the small truck he was driving. My friend stated he had a green light when he went through the intersection. So did the person that struck him. There was a car traveling behind my friend who “witnessed” the accident but all he could do was confirm that the accident occurred, not which driver had a green light.
Car insurance companies rule an accident like this a not at fault or no fault claim when neither driver is able to validate who is at fault and there are no witnesses or the witness statement is inconclusive. The question most clients ask is when a claim is labeled not at fault who pays for the damage resulting from the accident?
When a not at fault decision is rendered, each driver’s car insurance policy takes over payment of the client’s claim, provided their policy has one key coverage in it. As long as the policy has a collision deductible, their policy will pay for repairs to the car or will pay for the value they determine it to be if it’s a total loss. If the policy has collision coverage, then the policyholder is responsible for the deductible portion and the policy pays the balance of the claim. If there is no collision coverage, in other words, there is no collision deductible, then the policyholder is responsible for the repairs or can sell it to a salvage yard.
There is one other coverage that may be helpful in the event of a not at fault accident and that is medical or personal injury protection (PIP). Both of these can be used to help pay for medically related claims such as a trip to a hospital’s emergency room. PIP coverage can also be used to compensate a person for lost wages or pay for things they are unable to do while recovering from their injuries such as cut the grass, go to the store, etc. (see http://126.96.36.199/~wiseinsu/medical-coverage-or-pip-whats-the-difference/).
In my friends’ case, I’d recommended both collision coverage and PIP on the vehicle he was driving. They had both. Since the truck was a total loss, the company paid for the depreciated value of the truck less the collision deductible. In addition, the PIP coverage covered the deductible on their health insurance policy and then some.
How well would your car insurance policy cover you in a not at fault accident? Do you have the right coverage? If you’d like a review of your policy, I’d be happy to do that. If you have a question, comment, or experience you’d like to share, post them in the comments section of our blog or on our Google + and Facebook pages. I’d love to hear from you!