In the past week, I’ve had two conversations with two different clients about car insurance claims. Both clients were involved in accidents where they were hit by the other driver; one was rear ended by a commercial vehicle and the other was struck by a car that changed multiple lanes in order to attempt making the exit. The question both clients asked was the same, “How should they file their car insurance claim?”
You may think this a straightforward question to answer but it’s not. There are a number of things which come into play to shape my answer. What’s important to the client carries as much or more weight in determining what to do. Texas law states, however, I am not to tell my clients to file or not file a claim. It’s their choice as it should be. My role as a personal car insurance advisor is to provide my clients with information to make the choice that’s right for them. With that in mind, let’s look at both accidents, the claims, and approaches.
Accident 1: The client who was rear ended by a commercial vehicle was not injured and the car was able to be safely driven from the accident scene. He obtained the other driver’s commercial car insurance information and talked with the company owner. The owner stated he wanted to pay for the repairs to my client’s car without filing on their commercial policy.
My client was willing to wait for a week or two to give him the opportunity to make arrangements, but things began to drag out and weren’t coming together. At this point, my client called to discuss his options which I outlined for him. He chose to file the claim on his own policy, letting them file against the commercial company’s policy for payment as this would speed up the repair process for him and his vehicle.
Accident 2: This client was struck by a car who changed multiple lanes trying to make an exit off of Interstate 35. My client called from the accident scene after sending me a picture of her vehicle. We discussed her options and she chose to file on the other driver’s policy instead of her own. Based on that decision, I advised her to call the other person’s car insurance company and initiate the process so she could get a rental car and have her car moved to a shop.
Which approach is the best way to file a car insurance claim when the other party is clearly at fault? I believe filing the claim on the other person’s car insurance makes sense when:
- It’s very clear the other person’s at fault (they admitted to fault, a responding police offer states it, etc.)
- The other driver has car insurance with one of the top 10 companies
- They are listed as a driver on the ID card
- You don’t want to pay the collision deductible on your policy
- The other driver and their insurance company is responding quickly to your calls and email inquiries
- They aren’t nitpicking who’s at fault by assigning percentages, or the cost of repairing the damage, or value of your vehicle if totaled
If the other company is being a pain to deal with, not being responsive, nitpicking fault, cost of repairs or offers a ridiculously low settlement, file with your car insurance company. You may have to pay the collision deductible initially, but your company should get reimbursed for it and so will you.
What do you think? Share your comments, questions, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!