Advice about Filing Auto Insurance Claims
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Advice about Filing Auto Insurance Claims
I was recently in a minor car accident and am suffering from TMJ (jaw pain). I have
seen a chiropractor, osteopath, dentist and now a TMJ specialist. My auto insurance
has a $5,000 med pay, and shockingly, I am at the point of exhausting that but not
nearly done with all the treatment. What is the normal protocol here? Would my
insurance co. normally go after the other co. to collect additional $$ to cover my
injuries? (I was not at fault) It turns out the other driver also has Geico, so in some
ways it seems there is an inherent conflict of interest with the same company
representing both parties. My claims adjuster told me that once my med pay was
used up, I should start billing my medical insurance. As far as I know most of the
treatment I am getting is not covered by my medical insurance.
The receptionist at the TMJ specialist's office has encouraged me to get a lawyer.
The idea of suing seems horrible to me, especially when I feel the other driver made
an honest mistake (didn't see me coming). On the other hand, I can't afford to be
financially (as well as physically) set back by this accident.
Any advice would be appreciated!
Out of Med Pay
If you are injured and need more medical attention, you should seek reimbursement
from the insurance company under the other person's policy, if they were at
fault. You also need to keep in mind that you may incure future medical bills
for the same problem -- often in car accidents you have recurring injuries.
If you seek an attorney, they will initially negotiate with the insurance company
and most likely will be able to settle on your behalf without having to file
suit. I think you have one year from the date of accident to file a lawsuit, so
there should be plenty of time to reach an agreement/settlement. You want to
take care of yourself, so you can take care of your kid
My husband and I have filed two claims against our auto
insurance in the past three years. One claim was for someone
hitting my husband's car (so not our fault) and one claim was
for my husband hitting someone (so technically his fault). For
the one that was his fault the police called an ambulance for x-
rays for the other party. So we figure that, with the cost of
the ambulance and the hospital visit, it was an expensive claim.
Now my car was hit by a hit-and-run driver while it was parked
outside our house. The repair estimate is $3500. We have $1000
deductible. We don't know whether to file a claim or not. We
are worried that, if we have too many claims over too short a
period, our rates will shoot up or we may possibly lose our
insurance. But a friend told me that, if it's not your fault,
there is no affect on your insurance rates. I don't know what
to believe. Does anyone have any similar experience that might
help us decide what to do? Thanks!
I had two car accidents within about a month. I was not at
fault with either accident, but the first was a hit and run and
totaled our car. When the second happened, I was tempted not to
file a claim with my insurance company, as the other driver had
insurance, and the second car that was hit did not have
collision insurance with our company. Our insurance broker
pointed out that: (a) anything with damage $500 or greater had
to be reported to the police (and what car damage isn't at that
level today)--and it WOULD be reported if we were working with
the other driver's insurance, and (b) if our insurance company
found we had been in an accident and not reportd it, THEN they
would be likely to cancel. I reported the accident, the company
(Kemper) was very helpful, despite h! aving no responsibility to
pay for anything, and it does not appear to have affected our
rates--after all, it wasn't my fault.
I think that filing a claim, even if you were not at fault can end up costing you
in higher premiums. We filed a claim when we were not at fault and then
another when we were at fault and our rates went up. And i'm pretty sure that
the agent told us that it was in part due to the claim where we were not at
Our car had just been hit in the back by a minivan on highway 880. The
minivan took off right after the accident. We do have a 3rd party witness
We have uninsured motorist insurance (State Farm) but we wonder if our
premium will go up even if the accident was not our fault since our
insurance has to pay for it. We assume it will be about $2000 to repair the
damage. Our agent is very strict and we don't want to ask him since we don't
really feel he is going to be ''on our side''.
Anybody with similar experiences ?
I had a similar situation where I was rear ended, pushed into the car in
front of me and the person who hit me then took off. I got a police report
(there were witnesses) and filed with my insurance company since I was
worried that the car in front of me was going to file against me - but
because it was a hit and run and there was a police report I wasn't held
responsible, nor did my premiums rise.
We were involved in a hit and run at the end of February and are insured
through AAA. In our case, I was driving on MLK in the right lane and a
in the left lane made a sudden lane shift towards me. In order to avoid
being hit I was forced into the parking lane which was OK until I couldn't
stop soon enough to avoid hitting a parked car. We were not able to get the
license plate of the person who caused this and did not have a witness
(although I'm not sure that's going to make a difference in your case.)
This 'event' will cause our insurance rates to go up (I think I will lose my
safe driver discount; I hope no more than that.) We also have uninsured
motorist coverage---but I think that it requires that the uninsured motorist
stops and takes responsibility!
Our car was not drivable without repairs (which totalled around $2700) so
really had no choice but to go ahead and call AAA and proceed.
my husband was very matter of fact about the whole thing which helped
realize we were lucky to be unhurt, we are lucky to be able to afford
insurance in the first place, and in some bigger scheme of things---it's
only money. sigh.
We've found that in general our rates have not gone up as long as the
on the policy was not at fault. Examples--1) my mother rolled our car; the
insurance company cancelled the policy, but the next company gave us a
driver rate--my mother wasn't on our policy! 2) a babysitter was driving
our car and had an accident at which she was at fault--the company didn't
raise the rate, as the sitter was no longer driving the car (and had never
been on the policy). 3) I was just the victim of a hit and run and it never
occured to me not to report it to the insurance company. You are required
to file a report with the police or DMV, I'm not sure which (as our broker
sent us the form and will file it), if the damage is more than $500, so the
company can learn of it anyway. The insurance company and broker have
quite sympathetic. I figure if they try to raise the rates, we'll check
with other companies.
Anonymous (can't embarass my mother!)
I don't think your rates will go up immediately. I was hit broadside by a
car at a T intersection and they were coming up the leg and missed a stop
sign. There was no contest, it was all handled amicably (between insurance
companies though I cursed at the other driver). There was no reflection on
our insurance policy..in fact we got the 10% dividend for being such good
drivers. My husband three years later was hit by someone pulling out of a
parking space. Again, no problem our insurer handled it all with little
grief on our part (AAA insurance) but then this year our premium went
up. I called to learn that our typical Berkeley 10 year old Volvo station
wagon had been reclassified as a ''large'' car and the premiums went up. So
we shopped around. For other insurers (and you might try this online) you
have to list all accidents-those in which you were at fault and those you
were not at fault. We both had to claim one not at fault. Later we redid the
survey without claiming it and the rate was lower. I guess they try to
assess the kind of person who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I've found that auto insurance rates will go up regardless of fault after an
accident. I hate it, but that's apparently the way it is. You'll see this
is true by looking at the questions you get when getting a quote for a new
insurance policy ... any accidents within the past 5 years are applicable.
For the hit-and-run, I guess you didn't get a plate number or anything
the police can use as that is a serious offense for the other driver. If
there is any way to track down the other driver, than you (or your
company) can sue for the damages. If you don't have anything, then you're
pretty much stuck with the higher rates. Perhaps before calling your
call another agent with the same company (perhaps from a different city,
pretend you are a new potential customer) and ask them for a rate quote,
then get them to tell you the difference in rates for one, not your fault
I had a similar experience. I don't know what your policy says but I was hit
on 580 and pulled over to call the Highway patrol. Frankly, they seemed
disbelieving which was one issue but a report was taken. The main point is
that, even though I too had uninsured motorist coverage - my claim was
DENIED. The rationale was that there was no known motorist, insured or
otherwise. And now that accident is on my DMV record.
Again, policies may vary on this but I certainly thought it should be
covered, but it wasn't.
Hi, I used to be an insurance agent. This is a pretty simple situation that
will be covered by your insurance if you have collision coverage on your
If you were rearended you will not be seen at fault unless the witness says
you backed up into the vehicle behind you. There will be no points added
your insurance premium. It will not be covered by uninsured motorists
you can prove the person that hit you was uninsured. It would, however,
covered under collison (if you have the coverage) and your carrier may or
may not charge you the deductible. I would push them since you are not at
fault. and have a witness. Just so you know, if the witness was someone
in your vehicle, the insurance company will not consider them such.
Your agent, is only that, because their job is to sell insurance not handle
the claims. You will get better answers from the insurance adjuster after
you put a claim in. The adjuster will have someone appraise the car, and is
also someone who will not answer your questions. Feeling like your agent
''not on your side'' is not good but is basically accurate. He is a State
Farm employee. If you are looking for a agent to be on your side you
switch to an independent agent who represents you, not the companies
coverages they sell.
Good luck, I suggest you submit the claim and try to get them to cover the
deductible. That is the most you could be out on financially in this
situation. By the way, the more you push insurance companies, the more
likely they will back down. They know people are intimidated by them and
use it. Applying some pressure to not have to pay the deductible is a
decision usually made by a manager.
We recently had 2 incidents where other drivers bashed into our
a couple of months of each other! Our insurance (CSAA) was pretty
good--basically we ended up paying zero, and have not yet recvd any rate
I also have State Farm Insurance and have had several claims. My
insurance has not gone up. I have them for home and car they are
quick and they don't play. Meaning if you have unisured insurance
they will fix the car, you will have to pay your deductable. In the
meantime the leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. If you got
the license number and the 3rd party gives info, it will not go against
you. They base the negligance off the police report. Hopefully you
got one. Usually in these cases State Farm will take care of you and
then they will pursue if the police are able to find the individual,
State Farm will go after them for damages.
Bascially call your agent, he will take down info and then your claim
will be sent on to the claims department and you will be working with a
claims adjuster. Its painless. You will take the car down to the claims
office, they will take a photo of the damage then based on what they
think needs to be repaired they will give you a check right then and
there. If the cost lets say from the dealer is more, they will call the
dealer and confirm the price and they will give you more. My volvo got
hit and the new grill was more than what they stated, I told them that I
had called and it was more, they confirmed with volvo and gave me the
By the way if you don't feel comfortable with your agent I suggest that
you contact State Farm and ask to be reassigned.
We had an accident recently and our usaa agent told us that in California
insurance co can raise your premiums if the claim is in excess of $500.
A few years ago we were also involved in a hit-and-run.
We were on I-80 and someone rear-ended us, which
caused us to hit the car in front of us. We and the car in
front stopped, but the driver who hit us took off.
Everyone had cell phones and the folks in front got the
driver's license plate, so we were all covered in that
respect. But back to your question: our rates did not
increase as a result of this. We have CSAA and have
had it for many many years and they have always been
fair. Additionally, my husband's car was rear-ended
twice in three days (!) just days before our wedding
(gee, that was fun!) and his insurance at the time (State
Farm) didn't go up from that, either. It wasn't hit-and-
run, but he was rear-ended.
A couple of weeks ago, our car was hit by an inattentive
driver. The driver's side doors are scraped and dented and
the running board is mangled. The car still drives normally,
and no one was hurt. The other driver was cited and his car
insurance (Farmer's) is paying for the repairs -- maybe.
They sent us to a particular repair shop, and are now
claiming that our car may have to be totaled because its
value is so low. The adjuster laughed at our protestations of
its ''blue book'' value, assuring us that they use a very
different standard to arrive at a value (several thousand less
than the Kelley est. trade-in value). All we want is to have our
low-mileage, perfectly-running car cleaned up. Do we have
any recourse, if they refuse to repair it and offer us what
seems like an unreasonably low sum instead? Thanks for
any tales of tangling with the insurers, or warning us off a
Scratched and dented
Dear Scratched and Dented,
I am shocked you're having this problem. I own a Farmers
Insurance Agency and in my experience Farmers is extremely
generous with claims. The problem may be this specific claims
adjuster. Please contact me and I will help.
Regarding your auto accident: You can negotiate your settlement
with the insurance company. You probably had to go to their
shop for an initial estimate because this shop likely takes the
place of their claim adjustment via some sort of certification
with the insurer. However, you are free to take your car to
other shops and get additional opinions. You don't have to share
these with the insurer. Then you can ask the insurer for a check
for whatever they would have paid you for your ''total'' loss,
minus the salvage value they would have received for selling
your car for parts. Negotiate this amount based on your own
careful research! You can use this money to repair your car - or
not. The sum is meant to compensate you for your car's loss of
market value. Now, please be sure the insurer is not totaling
your car because of frame damage. In that case, you really are
better off buying another car with the proceeds. Best of luck.
Our car was totally recently, and my husband recieved some very
good advice. DO NOT TAKE THE FIRST OFFER. Hold out for what
you want. The adjusters will always make it sound like it's
their best offer, but they are under pressure to settle, and to
settle quickly. Be polite, but firm. Don't take the first
offer, and hold out for what you think is fair. On our very low-
value car, the second offer was over twice the first offer,
which ma! de a huge difference in being able to buy a replacement
in much better condition even than the car that had been wrecked.
Happy, in the end
You should contact the Department of Insurance complaint line at
800-927-4357 and file a complaint. They will contact the
company and often times that is all that is needed to resolve
My car recently was hit by a falling tree limb. The tree
was on University property. I have begun the process of getting
estimates to submit to UC's insurance, but several shops have
said that the estimate is very preliminary, as the damage is to
the roof and the roof must be cut out and replaced. The damage
does not affect the drivability of the car. Is there any law that
states that I HAVE to repair the car? Can the insurance company
pay me directly for the damage to the car and allow me to act as
I see fit? I think that I can personally take care of much of the
dents without cutting up the roof, and then have the car painted.
But I do want compensation for the loss of sale-ability of my
In the past I have done just that but I don't know if there was
any 'law' that I was breaking. It certainly seems to be
something that's done - especially if the owner is mechanically
savvy. I think it might be a don't ask, don't tell kind of
thing - but you might want to read the fine print on your
contract. Of course, you would never go into it with the
intention of defrauding the insurance company.
Our old car was hit while parked a few years ago and the
man that hit it kindly left a note. It was only a smasked light
and some dents, but it was a Volvo, so everything was
pricey. We took it for an estimate and they gave us a high
one, but told us we didn't have to fix it. The adjuster came
out and looked at the car, took the estimate and cut us a
check then and there. Our car was 10 years old and on its
last legs so we just deposited the cash. Lucky for us we
never fixed it, because a couple of months later it was hit on
the street again, no note this time, and COMPLETELY
TOTALLED! Just sheared it off the axle. We used the other
insurence money toward our new car.
No more accidents!
If you don't have a car loan, you don't HAVE to get the car
repaired. You can just take that check from the insurance
company and spend it on whatever you want. If you do have a car
loan, it is likely you are required to have the repair done, so
you should check the terms of your loan.
Even if you are not required to, you might wish to have it done
while it is still covered by insurance. In my sadly not-that-
limited experience, the insurance company adjusters often
estimate pretty low, compared to what it really costs in the end
after the body shop does the work. My insurance adjuster
actually tried to talk me into walking away with the check and
not doing the repair, and when I found out how much the
seemingly minor repair actually cost, I was really glad I didn't.
My car just got hit in a parking lot. I was stopped in the lane
and a man backed into me. While we were exchanging information,
he kept saying how minor the damage was, and how it wasn't worth
reporting to the insurance company. I told him I would think
But then I got a call from AAA (we both had AAA policies),
saying HE had reported it. AAA says that the other driver
claims we were both moving, and since he doesn't admit fault,
they can't assign it to him. That doesn't make sense to me.
I have several concerns. I'm pretty sure the damage is less than
$500 (the deductible). I'm concerned that since we're both
insured by AAA, the adjuster is trying to make it a ''no-fault''
situation so they won't have to pay because the damage is below
the deductible. Does anybody have any experience with problems
with claims with AAA?
Secondly, I'm afraid this will appear on MY record and increase
I'm ignorant of the process here. Can I appeal this? How?
My experience with AAA was that I rear-ended someone, but
they were at fault (which is unusual and hard to prove). I
went to AAA and explained my case, and they agreed with
me enough to hire a lawyer and pursue it for a year of
hearings, depositions and arbitration. I don't know what
they'd do if both people were AAA clients, but I had an
excellent experience with them. They took me seriously and
defended me extensively. Good luck.
As the Executive Director of a trial lawyer organization I have
come to realize that Insurance companies aren't necessarily on
your side- especially if it's going to cost them money. I would
suggest that you not let this go as it may very well affect your
rates and driving record- squeaky wheels get the oil. And shame
on the guy who rammed you!
I asked a group of attorneys who deal with AAA and here's what
they had to say:
if the person has any witnesses to show the other guy is lying
that would help, let AAA take their statement. AAA has to
consider other witnesses statements.
if not, consider filing a small claims action against the other
guy (the liar), and have him served with it. that will shake
him up. then either negotiate with AAA, after their insured has
been served by you with a lawsuit. they may be more willing to
negotiate. however, since it's under the deductible, yours and
his, maybe the best bet is to file the small claims case and
then tell AAA to close the claim, since it's under their
deductible amt, that you will pursue their driver directly for
reimb. they may then close the file and not hold anyone at
take the driver to small claims and win. he won't do well lying
I used to have CSAA insurance and at the time their policy was
if both drivers involved in an accident were CSAA insureds, they
waived the deductible.
Anyway, your first step is simply to tell your side of the story
to the insurance adjuster. That is likely enough to prevent
them from simply assigning fault to you. It *is* possible for
them to assign fault 50-50, but that shouldn't affect your
rates. You should also find out whether the other driver *has*
claimed damages of more than $500, because if he has, you are
obligated to file an accident report with the DMV.
I had almost exactly the same situtation (someone backed into
me, admitted it to me and then later lied to the insurance
company about what happened). We both also had AAA. I told them
over and over that the man was lying and suck by my story. I
told them that I simply would not accept anything less than
assigning him full responsibility and having all my expenses
paid,including the deductible. Eventually they saw it my way
(maybe they just wanted to close the case and they knew I
wouldn't let it go). My advice is stick to your guns and
continue to pursue it as long as necessary. It is always a good
idea to speak to a higher level person if you don't get
satisfaction from the person you are dealing with.
When I backed up and hit another car (whose driver in my opinion was
actually at fault) the collilsion was ruled 100% my fault simply because I
was the one in reverse. I don't know if this applies to parking lots, but it
might be worth checking out.
anonymous, but a good driver!!
My 18-yr-old just rear-ended someone. These are the issues we're
contending with and perhaps someone has some advice for us,
particularly in dealing with our insurance company:
Our car is a 1986 Volvo worth about $1500 according to the blue
Damage seems to be $2900. To fix it with used parts would be
I imagine if we make a claim to the insurance, after we paid the
$500 deductable, they'd total the car and give us about $1000.
Then they'd raise our insurance costs $750/year for 3 years.
The other party had only minor damage (says the teen), but
they're making a claim so the insurance co. WILL be involved.
Note: I had planned to keep the Volvo until all children were
out of the house (3 more years.)
Does anyone have any experience or advice about things we need to
think of when making decisions? If WE don't make a claim to our
ins. co., will that reduce future rate increases? Thanks for
If the other party is filing a claim, your insurance company WILL know about
it and may raise your rates anyway. Being upfront with them might save your
insurance rate in the long run.
State law requires all accidents of $500 or more in damages be
reported to the DMV. You have only 10 or 20 days to file the form.
You must provide insurance info on the form. You can get the form
from the DMV or your insurance company. If you decide to keep a car
that the insurance company deems totaled, you can register the car
under a salvage certificate (go to the DMV web site for details).
Just my two cents, despite the possibility that your rates may go up,
there may be a valuable lesson in honesty and responsibility for
actions in reporting the accident.
Insurance companies are businesses and as such will take advantage
when ever they can. If the party your teenager hit reports the
accident, and your insurance company determines that it was his/her
fault, your insurance company will charge your policy with the
accident...even if they do not pay anything to you or the other party.
As you probably know, in rear end accidents, it is almost always the
fault of the car in the back. Consequently, future rate increases
will be applied to your policy according to your insurance company's
business practices. Some companies do not charge for the first
accident, moving violation, etc. but cumulative occurrences will cost
you. Some companies charge for each occurrence. This depends on your
insurance company. Find out by calling them and asking (without
mentioning the accident). Just say you are curious.
The best bet for you appears to be to try and get the other party NOT
to report it and to pay their repair cost yourself. This would not be
a good choice if the other party is injured (back, neck, ect.). The
medical costs can run very high and it would be better for you to let
the insurance company handle it. Some medical problems can be
resolved quickly while other require months and months of therapy.
They can even become open ended.
Report the accident for the following reasons: 1) If you are involved
in an accident causing $500+ worth of damage, you are required to
report it to the DMV. 2) Your son did the rear-ending, and is
probably at fault; the other party is reporting the accident to their
insurance company, which will almost certainly contact your company.
3) What looks like "minor" damage on another car, unfortunately, can
easily be several hundred dollars worth of damage. 4) There seem to
be very strict laws governing insurance compensation in California.
We actually got well over blue book value for damage to our 1984 Volvo
that someone rear-ended, because advertised prices to replace the car
were higher than listed blue-book value. (They then wanted to "total
out" a completely drivable car, which becomes a pain in terms of
registration--but that's a whole other story). Your company will
learn of the accident anyway, but will not be happy that you did not
inform them. They'll probably raise your rates, but they will be much
less likely to cancel your insurance if you have been diligent and
have reported the accident to them. And finally, it's probably a good
lesson for your teen to see the consequences of an accident--you could
insist that he contribute to the added insurance cost if he wants to
remain on the policy as a driver of your cars. When our Volvo was hit
(and we didn't have it covered for collision), I asked the insurance
broker if we should report it to our insurance company, and they
recommended that we do so, even though there would be no cost to the
company. (The generous payment we got was from the insurance company
of the other driver).
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