Most times we get car insurance coverage and hope not to use it. Though you go to great lengths to avoid any mishaps with your car, accidents are bound to come to you regardless, forcing you to use your auto insurance.
Since you cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road, you’re bound to use your auto insurance policies from time to time. I share a step-by-step process of how to file insurance claims against other drivers when you get hit.
If another driver runs into your vehicle and investigations have determined that you aren’t at fault for the accident, then you’ll file a claim against the other driver using their liability insurance.
Filing a claim using the other driver’s insurance is called a third-party claim.
The process for making a third-party claim is similar to when you’re filing a claim with your own insurance company, only that you’re using the other driver’s insurance to cover your bodily and property damages.
You’re not a policyholder in the other driver’s insurance coverage, and that makes you a third party.
But as long as a claims adjuster has deemed that the other driver is at fault in an accident, you’re entitled to reimbursement for your losses using their car insurance coverage.
Related: How Does Car Insurance Work?
How to File Insurance Claim Against Other Driver
When you get hit by another driver, here’s what to do and how to file an insurance claim against the other driver successfully.
Take photos of the full accident scene from all angles
Immediately you gain control of yourself after the accident, bring out your phone and take videos and pictures of:
- Your car
- The other driver’s car
- Every damage and dent on both cars
- Plate numbers of both cars
- Injuries of all casualties
- State of the road
- Any factor that aided the accident like road signs or a random object
Make a note of the date stamp and time that the videos and photos were taken, because you’ll need to present all of these to your insurer and claims adjuster when filing a claim.
It makes the claim filing process easier and faster, and it reduces the chances of your insurance claim getting turned down.
Resist the urge to say “I’m sorry”
Try not to make any self-indicting statement implying that you accept blame for the accident.
In that disoriented state, the urge to quickly get over with it for peace to reign can make you tender an apology to the other driver before investigations are carried out to determine who is at fault.
It’s best to avoid such talks because the other driver could capitalize on your statement, present your apologies in a convincing way to the claims adjuster, and use your liability coverage even when you weren’t at fault.
If you’re not sure of what to say, speak to your auto insurance company only.
Get a police report
Call the police so you can obtain an official police report that determines who is at fault in the car accident.
Make sure to verify the name and badge number of the responding police, as it could be scribbled illegibly on documents received from the police department.
Check the personal data received with that found on your police report to maintain data consistency and accuracy.
Related: How to Get Car Insurance
Obtain the personal details of the other driver and witnesses
Ask the other driver for details such as name, phone number, address, and car plate numbers, and retrieve their insurance policy numbers from the insurance ID cards, if they have one with them.
Look around for any witnesses at the accident scene who were kind enough to stop by. Obtain their names and contact information, just in case a witness is needed during the claims filing process.
Contact your insurance company immediately and file a claim
Don’t waste a second in filing a claim through your insurance company’s website or mobile app. It’s important to reach out to your insurer as quickly as possible because most insurance companies have deadlines for submitting claims.
Some of these time limits could be 30 days after an accident, two weeks, or 24 hours after an accident.
If you signed up through a third party, notify your insurance agent immediately. But if you signed up directly, then contact your insurer and start filing a claim through their website or app.
In a no-fault state, use your coverage to settle medical and property loss
Living in a no-fault state means that you can’t file a claim using the insurance of the other driver, even if the other driver was at fault.
You’ll need to take out your coverage and cover the cost of your car repair and bodily injuries.
During severe cases of accidents and deaths, however, you might be able to sue the other driver and get reimbursed for your loss.
In an at-fault state, wait for the claims adjuster to determine who’s at fault
After contacting your insurance company, you will be assigned a claims adjuster to determine who is at fault in the accident.
Your claims adjuster would look at the factors that caused the car crash to determine if your insurance or the other driver’s insurance would pay for the damage.
Supply the claims adjuster with any information requested to hasten the investigation process.
When the other driver is at fault, file a third-party claim
If the claims adjuster determines that the other driver is at fault, then you’re free to file for liability coverage using the other driver’s auto insurance.
Your insurance company would work with the other insurance company throughout the process, just in case the other driver’s insurance company refuses to pay for the damages for whatever reason.
Acting as the bridge between your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver, your claims adjuster would return feedback to you through scheduled in-person meetings or phone calls.
Accept your settlement offer, but feel free to challenge it if the amount is insufficient
When the insurance company of the other driver accepts responsibility for the accident, they’ll pay a settlement for your vehicle repair.
If you feel the amount of insurance coverage they’re paying isn’t enough to cover the repair of your vehicle and medical costs, you can always challenge it.
Your claims adjuster would renegotiate an acceptable amount based on the value of your car at the time of the accident.
If you can’t wait for the claims adjuster, use your own coverage to repair your car in the meantime
Sometimes, you might not have the luxury of time to wait for a claims adjuster to determine if the other driver is at fault.
You just want to get your vehicle up and running to continue school runs and avoid using the commute to work every day.
In this case, take out your collision or comprehensive coverage to restore your car to a working state while your claims adjuster is in talks with the insurance company of the other driver.
If the other driver is eventually deemed to be at fault, your insurance company will get back your coverage costs and the deductible from the other driver’s insurance company.
Get back the amount spent from your coverage via subrogation
The process whereby your insurance company gets a refund of your post-accident expenses from the insurance of the other driver who’s at fault is called subrogation.
You don’t have to do anything for this, as your insurance company reaches out to the other insurance company behind the scenes to recoup the cost of the coverage spent on your vehicle and the deductible.
It ensures that you’ll be completely refunded for the collision or comprehensive coverage you’ve taken out.
Will my insurance increase after a claim?
Your car insurance is likely to increase after you file a claim, especially if you’re at fault in the accident. Accidents that involve serious injuries and deaths might see a higher increase in the premiums and rates you’ll pay for your insurance going forward.
What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident?
In some states, auto insurance is allocated to cover the vehicle, not necessarily the owner of the vehicle. So, if someone else drives your car and gets in an accident, your liability coverage would take care of it. In other states, the person who got into an accident while driving your car is liable for the damage and would use their personal insurance policies to fix it.
How long after an accident can you file a claim?
Though most car insurance companies give a time limit of 24 hours to 30 days after an accident to file a claim, state laws allow one to six years from the time of an accident to file a claim. Some states like Kansas and Kentucky, for example, give one year for personal injury and a two-year deadline for property damages.
How does insurance work when it’s not your fault?
The way car insurance works when it’s not your fault is that you’ll use the other driver’s liability insurance to cover the repair cost of your car and your bodily injuries. To access the other driver’s insurance faster, take photo evidence at the accident scene and contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurer will assign a claims adjuster to you who will contact the insurance company of the other driver on your behalf and negotiate the settlement offer for your car repairs and medical costs.
Related: What Is Car Liability Insurance?