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Drewstre
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Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 9:40 pm

OK, long story short, mainly because I don't like thinking about it. Riding with a friend a couple of days ago, her car, she's driving. Two-lane road. Dude in a work van (ladders on the roof) coming towards us, at speed, veers into our lane, and completely obliterates her driver's side rear view mirror. Scared the bejeezus out of us both. Got very lucky, some scuffs on the door sill and glass from where the mirror hit it, no other damage to her car (besides the vaporized mirror). The sedan maybe 20 yards behind us is not so lucky, full head-on collision. Lots of fire trucks, cops, a bad night. Turns out dude in the van was apparently DUI. (Guy in the sedan was miraculously walking around).

Her insurance company (State Farm) says they can't do anything until she pays her deductible, which she doesn't currently have. They say she can go downtown to police HQ, get the accident report, and handle things herself. The police lady on-scene we talked to seemed to indicate van guy was probably insured, at least that's what she said when she looked him up on her little PDA.

- How exactly should she "handle things herself"? Hire a lawyer to sue the van guy's insurance company?
- Shouldn't State Farm handle this, since it was obviously not her fault?

I'm at a loss here, as neither of us have ever been in this situation. Any and all advice welcomed and appreciated. Thanks.
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 9:51 pm

Her insurance company's responsibility depends on what her coverage is. Without that info, I don't think it is possible to say whether what they said was reasonable or not.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 9:58 pm

Thanks JBI... ya, I need to find that out. I asked her, she's gonna look it up. Will post back when I hear from her (she's at work right now).
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 10:19 pm

It depends heavily on her coverage, but generally when someone else is at fault, they report it to their insurance company and then their insurance company contacts you. You can go ahead and have it covered under your own insurance (which includes paying your deductible) if you don't want to go through the other person's insurance, or want the other insurance to cover it later (though they may not agree to everything your insurance allows). That's my understanding from when I've dealt with these things.

Edited for a few details.
Last edited by FireGryphon on Tue May 22, 2018 10:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 10:30 pm

Here's her reply on the coverage:
- Bodily injury/property damage liability
- Medical payments
- 500 deduct comprehensive/collision
- Underinsured motor vehicle BI/PD
- Death dismemberment & loss of sight
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 10:45 pm

My take (I could be wrong...) is that if she wants this dealt with immediately, she's got a $500 deductible (under the comp/collision clause) until the two insurance companies agree that the other party was at fault, at which point her deductible should be refunded to her (paid by the at-fault driver's insurance). IMO she needs to discuss this with her State Farm agent to get it clarified.

Does she not have the other driver's insurance info?
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 11:00 pm

I'd be very wary of their claim that she can "handle things on her own". If she attempts to do that and then brings the insurance company in later it wouldn't just be the accident they'd be investigating, but any action she had taken about it afterwards as well. It really just allows for more opportunity for the insurance company to deny coverage.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 11:04 pm

In my experience, my insurance company did not 'go after' the other person's insurance. I had to wait a couple weeks until the other guy notified his insurance, at which point his insurance worked with me to fix the damage. It seems like there should be a legal recourse for someone not contacting their insurance company, or not doing so in a timely fashion...
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 11:05 pm

Number one....who is at fault. Sounds like the van driver. So his insurance should pay.

The police officer at the crash scene should have given your friend that guy's insurance info. And she should have pressed the issue until she got it.

I would NOT get her insurance company to pay anything unless it turns out the other driver does not have insurance. Even if it gets worked out in the end it will just complicate things.

You should get the van drivers name, van license #, and insurance company info. Sounds like you will have to get that from the police report at this time (You got that number from the cop at the scene I hope). Contact that company and tell them the situation and that you would like file a claim. A good insurance company should take care of you from here.

They should offer you a rental car if needed until yours is repaired. If they don't; you should demand.
They should pay to repair your car back to original conditions. Don't let them send you to a shop you don't like or use sub-standard parts.

Now, while your insurance shouldn't have any financial responsibility at this point, your (her) agent should be helping you navigate this process. If her agent isn't helpful it is a clear sign to find a new one. Really the agent makes a ton of difference as they can advocate for your and help you. We once changed agents...same insurance company....and the new one suddenly found all the discounts we qualified for.

Worst case scenario is the van driver isn't insured. In that case your friend's uninsured/underinsured motorist portion of the policy will kick in. I don't recall whether that will force her to pay deductable. But again, her agent should have already answered that question. That's what you pay them for.

Good luck. Glad you all were not injured.

Finally, I reread your earlier post where you say State Farm told her to 'handle it on your own'. Yeah, that just goes along with several other events where I can't recommend State Farm to anyone. Like I said earlier, they aren't exactly required to help you but they sure should. And if they won't now, why would you want to give them another dime.
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 11:07 pm

You should file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. In most states, the other driver's insurance should cover all of your expenses, including a rental while your car is in the shop. If the other driver is an uninsured scofflaw, then damages can be recovered in court, but hiring a lawyer costs you money and time and you can't always get blood from a turnip. If you file a claim with your own insurance, then you'll be on the hook for your deductible if your insurance company does not recover the damages from the other party. The large insurance company that I use cannot be bothered to go to the trouble to sue uninsured scumbags, so they make me pay the deductible. :x If the other party is insured, usually the two insurance companies will work things out and your deductible will be covered even if you originally filed a claim on your own policy.

I followed this path after a previous accident because the at-fault driver's insurance company took waaay too many days to call me back with a claim number. I dropped off my car at my preferred local body shop with a claim on my own insurance (understanding that I would pay the deductible if the other insurance company didn't come through). The body shop offered me a loaner vehicle at no charge, so I didn't have to worry about the cost of a rental. When the other insurance company finally did contact me and wanted to set up an appointment at an even more future date to estimate the damages, I told them that they should hurry to the body shop to see it before the replacement parts arrived and were installed. :lol:
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Tue May 22, 2018 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Tue May 22, 2018 11:13 pm

Like any business where there's a "mother" corporation and individually licensed agents, there will be some variation in quality. I've been with State Farm since forever and have generally been satisfied with the service I've received from them... but YMMV. If her agent seems to have a "can't be bothered to deal with her" attitude, it may be time to shop around. And we did have one incident where they insisted on using a "remanufactured" replacement part that turned out to be defective, so there's that too.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 12:15 am

Thanks to you all for your help and insight.

We could not get the van guy's insurance info, he was barely conscious. Whether that was from the wreck or the booze or both, dunno. We did get the accident report number from the police, and the nice police lady indicated that would be all her insurance company would need.

- videobits: The van guy was absolutely at fault. But given his inability to communicate at the time, there's probably no way the police officer on scene could've known his insurance details. I was surprised to see that she could determine the possibility of coverage at all. That's also a good point about a rental during repairs, I'll be sure to mention that.

- JAE: If I'm reading that right, she can file a claim with the at-fault guy's insurance company (assuming he's insured), completely bypassing her own insurance company? Makes sense, but can she do that personally, or would lawyers need to be involved?

- JBI: She's had this same State Farm agent for a long time, also has her home insurance. I don't think he'd personally try to jack her up... unless corporate tells him to.

Thanks again to you all for your help.
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 4:01 am

If the at-fault driver has insurance, she should call that insurance company (with the policy #, the name of the insured, the vehicle description and the police accident report number) and start a claim. That's the way that the process is supposed to work. If the insurance company is legit, no lawyers need to get involved.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 6:51 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
If the at-fault driver has insurance, she should call that insurance company (with the policy #, the name of the insured, the vehicle description and the police accident report number) and start a claim. That's the way that the process is supposed to work. If the insurance company is legit, no lawyers need to get involved.

Getting lawyers involved for a busted side view mirror would likely end up costing more in legal fees than just paying for the repair out-of-pocket.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 7:11 am

Part of the problem is that insurance companies operate differently in every state.

From my own experience when I was reimbursed for a totaled car (I didn't cause the wreck but insurance considered me at fault since it was a read-end), I was sent a check for replacement value minus the $500 deductible.

If the at-fault driver doesn't have full coverage and you do, then your insurance pays for your car to be fixed and they can go after the other driver for reimbursement. If both drivers have full coverage then you shouldn't have to do any more hands-on beyond filing and reporting. You shouldn't have to pay a dime out of pocket. Both drivers with liability? Tough luck on all sides. Your insurance company will not go to bat for you at all if you have liability. I put full coverae on every car I own, regardless of age or mileage.

There are instances where the officer on scene can't conclusively declare fault on one party, and that can really muddy things up (especially if one party doesn't have full coverage). This case seems cut and dry since the instigator was driving drunk.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 7:12 am

Been there, done that, three times.

Note, I am note a lawyer, or an insurance agent. Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. This is just my understanding from having gone through the process multiple times and paying attention to what everyone said, and reading my actual policies.

The general process:

The at fault driver's insurance pays. Assuming you aren't at fault, you insurance is a back stop to cover anything the at fault driver's insurance doesn't cover (up to your limits). How your insurance handles things depends on your insurance company.

First time, lady ran a red light crossing in front of me. I was with State Farm. They told me the same thing, to contact the at fault driver's insurance company and file a claim with them. I did. The at fault insurance company sent an adjuster out, I got my car fixed, everything we fine. I wasn't out anything.

Second time, my daughter got hit on the rear quarter. I was with Farmers. Called my agent. He asked who the at fault insurance was. He said his instructions depended on who the Insurer was. He had a list of companies that would result in immediately opening a claim with Farmer's, rather than the at fault insurance company. The reason for the two options? If you file with your insurance first, you are responsible for the deductible. Your insurance then does all the interaction with the at fault insurance company, including any arguing over who pays, etc. Once the at fault insurance pays, you get refunded your deductible. When the other party is a more reputable insurance company, his advice was to file directly with the at fault insurance company. That way, you aren't out your deductible in the interim. But if the other insurance company drags their feet, or argues they aren't at fault, they can drag out the process, during which time, your car sits unfixed.

Third time, my daughter was turning left and a lady went around her on the left and they hit. Still with Farmers on this one. Again, called my agent. In this case, we filed with Farmers not because of who the other insurance company was, but because the at fault party was in question. The police report did not assign fault (not unusual), so it was up to the insurance companies to argue it out. Took them about six weeks. Had I filed with the other driver's insurance, I would have been waiting this entire time, only to have to go back to my insurance and file with them. In the end, my daughter was found at fault, so we didn't get the deductible back.

So, while not what she wants to hear, State Farm's response seems about right to me. She can either file directly with the at fault insurance company and if all goes well, she'll be taken care of promptly without any (or minimal) expense. Or, she call file with State Farm and get taken care of immediately, but is responsible for her deductible until State Farm can reclaim it from the at fault insurance, at which point she'll get it back. The van driver's insurance should be on the police report if they couldn't get it at the scene, it should have been determined as part of the follow up investigation. If the police don't have the information and she can't get it, then she probably won't have a choice but to file with State Farm and let them do the work.

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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 7:12 am

just brew it! wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:
If the at-fault driver has insurance, she should call that insurance company (with the policy #, the name of the insured, the vehicle description and the police accident report number) and start a claim. That's the way that the process is supposed to work. If the insurance company is legit, no lawyers need to get involved.

Getting lawyers involved for a busted side view mirror would likely end up costing more in legal fees than just paying for the repair out-of-pocket.

Correct, and if there's no damage to the door sheet metal then the mirror alone probably would cost less than the deductible anyway.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 7:17 am

Drewstre wrote:
- JBI: She's had this same State Farm agent for a long time, also has her home insurance. I don't think he'd personally try to jack her up... unless corporate tells him to.

If she ends up dealing with her insurance at all, It'll get handed off to a claims adjuster at corporate. Her agent can help her navigate the process if it comes to that. As others have said, this seems like it should be pretty straightforward; assuming the other driver has insurance, you'll just deal with the other insurance company directly.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 7:33 am

If your friend doesn't agree with the service she's getting from her insurer, have her contact her state's Department of Insurance (insurance is still regulated state-by-state). They all have Consumer Affairs staff and can assist in getting the process working.

FTR, Insurance is part of the larger state Department for which I work (in the Banking Division).
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 8:27 am

Redocbew wrote:
I'd be very wary of their claim that she can "handle things on her own". If she attempts to do that and then brings the insurance company in later it wouldn't just be the accident they'd be investigating, but any action she had taken about it afterwards as well. It really just allows for more opportunity for the insurance company to deny coverage.


This needs to underlined, bolded, large font!

I used to have State Farm and my agent was really nice and did everything he needed to take care of his customers.
I have heard stories of some of them working for the company and not their customers and things not going so well.
I'm also in a "no fault" state so while my insurance is EXPENSIVE compared to at-fault states everything gets handled as people expect.

I currently use Farm Bureau since we have a farm and need liability insurance etc. etc. and is much cheaper than state farm.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 9:52 am

just brew it! wrote:
Her insurance company's responsibility depends on what her coverage is. Without that info, I don't think it is possible to say whether what they said was reasonable or not.
This
kvndoom wrote:
Part of the problem is that insurance companies operate differently in every state.
Also this
Captain Ned wrote:
If your friend doesn't agree with the service she's getting from her insurer, have her contact her state's Department of Insurance (insurance is still regulated state-by-state). They all have Consumer Affairs staff and can assist in getting the process working.
Definitely this

Any expectations from posters here is largely going to be based on our personal, state-specific experiences, so making sure that you understand those nuances will be important to navigating a claim. Aranarth's "no fault" situation is an example of that.

Besides that, your friend might use the reporting police department to get the necessary information. That would cover the records for the van and driver, which can be passed on to insurance in any case (important with an incoherent driver). If your friend has time, they might also go and meet with the agent in-person. That would be a better way to read the agent (to see if they are working for the customer), and it might just create enough of an inconvenience to get people moving.

EDIT: also, I'll echo the "shopping around" suggestion. Losing a customer over a $500 deductible will cost State Farm more than said deductible, and that would be especially bad for them in a case where the insured driver wasn't at fault.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 10:39 am

If you don't care about the scuffs, and it's just the side rearview mirror+assembly, those (shouldn't) cost anything remotely approaching $500 anyway.

Someone took mine near clean off overnight once when my car was parked.

OEM, it'll probably be like 200-300.

Aftermarket or pick, probably less than 100, at least mine was.

Completely out of pocket and replaced by myself (it is typically not hard at all, should be videos like for everything else on the youtube), didn't contact insurance or police because, I mean, unless someone reported it (which I doubt because they certainly didn't leave a note), I have evidence of exactly nothing.

---

I have also been in an accident in which I was incapacitated. The police (in my case and therefore I presume yours as it was serious multi-party accident and you said a police officer was present) took the insurance information of everyone (in my case by rummaging through my vehicle to find it, as I never gave it to anyone) and I got a card in the mail that listed all the address/insurance info of those involved. This was not the full report, I had to separately go see that in person at the State Police barracks and review (which I did for my own edification because I had no idea what happened in the accident).

The previous paragraph differs heavily by the state, but you've already indicated that you were present during the accident and that the police officer indicated that the other guy wasn't insured. In any event, you need that insurance card or report to figure out what insurance he actually had, if any.

So as many have said, the first step is to call the police department involved and get that information.

If the other guy was insured, call that company with the info provided and make a claim referencing the police report. If you need this fixed immediately, tell them that. You might have to temporarily carry this out-of-pocket, insurance companies have the obligation to make you "whole" but it's not automatically a timely thing, and if you admit to them that you "could probably get by without or with the damage" when talking to them, well, that's basically you self-limiting your loss to strictly the damages on the vehicle itself. Believe me, the opposing insurance company will ask you questions in that vein, so if you really want to stick it to them, say "absolutely I need this vehicle and it is not-operable/street legal" etc...

If he wasn't, well, call her insurance company again, but if she doesn't have like low or no-deductible uninsured motorist coverage (which her insurance company seems to be indicating that she doesn't), I mean, get a quote for the whole thing if you are bothered about the "scuffs" or just google your make/model and driver side rearview mirror for a price.
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 12:32 pm

Anyone who has dealt with another party's insurance company knows that it's almost always a nightmare. They will jerk you around at every turn, try to send you to shoddy repair shops who do lousy work, and string everything out for as long as possible. It's not worth the time or aggravation. If she has full (comp & collision) coverage (which it looks like she does), I would just pay the deductible and let her own insurance take care of it. Since she wasn't at fault, the deductible should come back to her at the end (but she can clarify this with her agent).
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 12:52 pm

The Egg wrote:
Anyone who has dealt with another party's insurance company knows that it's almost always a nightmare. They will jerk you around at every turn, try to send you to shoddy repair shops who do lousy work, and string everything out for as long as possible. It's not worth the time or aggravation. If she has full (comp & collision) coverage (which it looks like she does), I would just pay the deductible and let her own insurance take care of it. Since she wasn't at fault, the deductible should come back to her at the end (but she can clarify this with her agent).

Again, totally a state-by-state thing. In Colorado the process is fairly consumer-friendly.
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 12:56 pm

The Egg wrote:
If she has full (comp & collision) coverage (which it looks like she does), I would just pay the deductible and let her own insurance take care of it.


OP indicated a 500 dollar deductible.

Unless "scuffed" actually means bent metal or deeply scratched paint, we're not almost certainly not talking anything near that high in damages. Driver-side side rearview mirrors aren't that expensive typically.

Thus, you're not really paying the deductible, as it won't be deducted from anything. You're just paying for it.

The Egg wrote:
Since she wasn't at fault, the deductible should come back to her at the end (but she can clarify this with her agent).


The only way that would happen, normally, is if the other insurance company reimburses her. So, why not just contact them outright?

The claim is against the other guy/his insurance company, and there's no deductible if it isn't your insurance (i.e. they are at fault, they eat the entire cost).

Your agent can hand-hold you through that process, and I guess really nice concierge-like services will do that, but it really doesn't have anything to do with them in actuality. At least in most situations, anyway, the property damage process isn't even where most of the state-related differences come into play.

In normal jurisdictions, the only way it does is if the damage is over your deductible, you make a claim for yourself, and then they later subrogate against the other insurance company.
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 1:52 pm

The Egg wrote:
Anyone who has dealt with another party's insurance company knows that it's almost always a nightmare.

Maybe it's Florida, but we've always had great success. Our car got sideswiped by some num-nut not paying attention. We took it to their service center the next day. They had a rental car there waiting for us. We picked it back up 4 days later. They also cut us a check immediately to reimburse the purchase of new car seats (those are supposed to be replaced even for non-major accidents). Very painless and the staff was very pleasant. I never saw the place that did the work, but aesthetically the car came out looking great.
 
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 3:32 pm

Glorious wrote:
OP indicated a 500 dollar deductible.
Unless "scuffed" actually means bent metal or deeply scratched paint, we're not almost certainly not talking anything near that high in damages. Driver-side side rearview mirrors aren't that expensive typically.
Thus, you're not really paying the deductible, as it won't be deducted from anything. You're just paying for it.
The Egg wrote:
Since she wasn't at fault, the deductible should come back to her at the end (but she can clarify this with her agent).

The only way that would happen, normally, is if the other insurance company reimburses her. So, why not just contact them outright?
The claim is against the other guy/his insurance company, and there's no deductible if it isn't your insurance (i.e. they are at fault, they eat the entire cost).
Your agent can hand-hold you through that process, and I guess really nice concierge-like services will do that, but it really doesn't have anything to do with them in actuality. At least in most situations, anyway, the property damage process isn't even where most of the state-related differences come into play.
In normal jurisdictions, the only way it does is if the damage is over your deductible, you make a claim for yourself, and then they later subrogate against the other insurance company.

I guess it varies from state to state, and from one company to another. My experience (with State Farm in IL) has been that you pay your deductable and can just about wipe your hands of it. The car gets fixed under your insurance (as well as rental, etc), and they handle everything related to dealing with the other insurance company. Once they collect from the other company, your deductable is reimbursed.

As far as cost, when my driver's mirror was knocked off, I think it was somewhere around $250 to be professionally repaired. It that was only that inexpensive because the motor mechanism was undamaged, and I picked the body color top shell off the street, which was also largely undamaged. The OP mentioned her mirror was "obliterated". If this includes a motor and/or any sort of winter heating element and/or damage to the door where the mount attaches, it could easily go over $1k with labor at a quality shop.
 
xgsound
Gerbil First Class
Posts: 100
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:48 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 4:20 pm

Check out Amazon for the mirror before any one gets excited. This is a heated motorized mirror for a Sonata - $36. E-Z replacement
https://www.amazon.com/Hyundai-Unpainte ... dpSrc=srch

This should surely carry you through until the rest is settled.
 
TheRazorsEdge
Gerbil First Class
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Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 4:29 pm

There is so much variety state-to-state that a general answer will not be meaningful.

In my state, the at-fault driver (or his insurance) must cover all repairs and injuries, and the other party doesn't need to worry about deductibles at all.

Car rental is covered by my insurance since I have it on my policy (again, no deductible), and they file for reimbursement from his insurance. This is probably due to the fact that rental coverage is optional, whereas coverage for property and injury liability are mandatory.

If I am not fully or partially responsible for the accident, I pay nothing.
 
ludi
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Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: Car accident, what is insurance's responsibility?

Wed May 23, 2018 5:42 pm

TheRazorsEdge wrote:
In my state, the at-fault driver (or his insurance) must cover all repairs and injuries, and the other party doesn't need to worry about deductibles at all.
....
If I am not fully or partially responsible for the accident, I pay nothing.

Well, now we're talking about two different things. One is when you directly pursue the at-fault party's liability insurance for repairs and rental vehicle. The OP said there might be some delay in getting that process underway as the at-fault party's insurance information (if it even exists) is not yet known.

The other is when you have collision coverage on your own vehicle, and elect to file a claim under your own policy, in order to expedite the repair process. That requires you to pay your own deductible, and you will have to rent or borrow another car at your own expense unless you had that option added to your policy. If and when the other party pays, your insurance company will subrogate to cover their payout and legal costs, and then refund your deductible.
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