WHO PAYS FOR VEHICLE PROPERTY DAMAGE TO MY CAR IN AN ACCIDENT?
After a car accident, most people wonder what they should do about vehicle property damage. Considering the large expense and investment that comes along with owning/leasing and operating a vehicle, it is understandable that that would be a pressing concern. Continue reading to learn what course you can take if ever left in this predicament.
Your Own Policy – Full Coverage (Collision Insurance)
The value of having full coverage (collision insurance) becomes glaringly clear once you get in an accident and sustain substantial vehicle property damage. Full coverage (collision insurance) is usually required when one is financing or leasing a car, but is typically not required otherwise. Some people aren’t certain whether or not they have coverage for damage to their vehicle. If you’re not sure, check your policy or call your insurance company.
When you get into an accident, your own carrier has a contractual responsibility to fix your car and get you back on the road as soon as possible. That’s great, but if it is crystal clear that the other car was at fault, you could save having to pay a deductible by going to the other company first. You would still need to report the accident to your company. Failure to report an accident can void your policy!
When To Try to Settle Yourself With The Other Driver’s Company
As aforementioned, when it is very clear that another driver was 100% liable for an accident, you should try filing a claim with that driver’s insurance.
For example, you are hit in the rear by a drunk driver that is texting. The police report confirms this, and the other driver was arrested. Here, it would make sense to contact the other driver’s insurance company first. Bear in mind, that another driver’s insurance company does not have that same duty to you as your own. Even if the accident was clearly the fault of their insured, they may take their time or have you jump through many hoops to fix your car. Also, be aware that recovery is limited to the policy of the other driver, which might not be sufficient to cover the loss. With this scenario, you can always go back to your insurance company, pay your deductible and get your car fixed if it’s moving too slowly.
When You Should NOT Try to Settle With The Other Driver’s Company
If the liability for the accident is not clear, it’s best to go through your own insurance company. Your insurance company will investigate and subrogate the claim if needed. Trying to negotiate liability with the other insurance company can jeopardize your recovery, especially if you also suffered injuries in the accident. When dealing with vehicle property damage and bodily injury, contact an experienced attorney right away. Wittenstein & Wittenstein has over 60 years of experience with dealing with these type of incidents, and can help you avoid implicating yourself after an accident.
When You are “Out of Luck” If You Don’t Have Full Coverage (Collision Insurance)
If you do not have full coverage (collision insurance) chances are that you might have to pay out-of-pocket to fix your vehicle. This likelihood increases if there is not clear liability, and/or if you were struck by an uninsured motorist. It may therefore be worth to have full coverage (collision insurance) if your vehicle is worth a substantial amount of money.
Always Report an Accident to the Police
When an accident does not appear to result in significant damage or injury to persons involved, sometimes people attempt to resolve the issue without involving the police or insurance companies.
Failing to report an accident can void your insurance policy. If you were at fault for the accident, the driver you struck can later claim injuries and serve you with a summons & complaint. Now instead of having your insurance company and their lawyers deal with the issue, you will now be on your own.
If you were struck by a negligent driver at the time of the accident the other driver may appear to earnestly offer compensation for damages. There has been many incidents however when they are nowhere to be found after the fact. By then it would usually be too late to file a claim with your insurance.
What Should I Do If My Car is Towed to a Shop After an Accident
If your car is not driveable or there is no driver available (because the driver is incapacitated,) the car will be towed to a shop. It is important to note that you may be able to access towing services from sources outside of your insurance company. Your car warranty, wireless service provider or credit card company can be possible sources of towing services. If you have such a service, be sure to inform the police.
It is crucial to get the car out of the shop its towed to as soon as possible or storage costs will apply. Insurance does not usually pay for storage costs, so to avoid being faced with a hefty bill, you must be diligent about removing your car from the shop. Try to get your own company or the other company to inspect and repair it as soon as possible. If this can’t be done quickly, pick it up or junk it as applicable.
Understanding Gap Insurance- When Financing/Leasing & Your Car is a Total Loss
When you purchased or leased your vehicle, you may have been offered GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) Insurance. If you have this insurance in addition to your collision insurance, it can prove to be very helpful in the event of an accident. GAP Insurance comes into play when your vehicle is deemed a total loss, but you owe more on the vehicle than what it is worth. GAP insurance pays out the difference between what you owe and the actual cash value of the car so that you’re not left paying a monthly car note with no car to drive.
What if my Car Gets Damaged While Parked?
The law requires that drivers leave a note with name, address and contact information in a visible location if they hit and damage a parked car. Leaving a scene after causing damage to someone’s property without providing any kind of information is considered a hit and run. Unfortunately, in New York it is not usually the case that someone will leave a note after damaging your car.
If you find that your parked car is damaged, you have a choice whether or not to report it to your insurance company. If the damage is minor, you might decide to repair it yourself, avoiding paying a deductible and the possibility of your rates going up. Should you decide to report the damage, follow these steps:
Call the police to file a report – If you decide to go through insurance to fix your car, they will ask for it. Calling the police is also beneficial because they may know of surveillance cameras in the area that could’ve captured the incident. Make sure to request the accident report and get the name and badge number of the officer.
Take pictures of the damage – Note the location and time
Look for any possible witnesses – Look around for any possible witnesses. Maybe there’s someone who saw what happened and could provide you with more information about the incident
Call your insurance company to report the accident
If have any questions, please feel free to call Wittenstein & Wittenstein for a free consultation.
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