Non standard auto insurance-after you have an accident.

So You’ve Had an Automobile Accident

As difficult as it may seem, it is important to remain as calm as  possible after experiencing an accident.  If someone is hurt, contact the  paramedics and the police. It is always a good idea to call the police from the  scene of an accident.  Each police jurisdiction has different criteria for  police reports. If the police decide not to come to the scene of the accident,  then ask for direction on filing a report at the station.  With or without  a police report, it is your responsibility to gather as much pertinent  information about the accident as possible. 

Try to gather the following information: take down the license plate number of all vehicles involved; try to get complete names, addresses, phone numbers, and drivers license numbers of all other drivers, along with the registered owner’s name for each vehicle; see if there were any witnesses, as they could be very important later should there be a question as to which driver was at fault; obtain the complete names, addresses, and phone numbers of each witness; and always carry a pen or pencil, and a notepad in the glove compartment, so you will always be prepared in the case of an accident.

What ‘s Next? When you are involved in an accident, you need to contact your  insurance agent/broker or company directly and report the accident.  A  claim number and claims adjuster will be assigned to you.  The driver  should give a complete, detailed accident report, including any witness  information.  As part of the investigation, other drivers and witnesses  will be contacted.  If you have medical or uninsured motorist claims, then  you will be required to provide documentation as to your injuries, medical  expenses, and lost wages.  Ask questions if there is anything you don’t  understand or with which you don’t agree.  The adjuster should be able to  address your questions and concerns.

The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations require that insurers  acknowledge receipt of your claim within 15 days. Upon receiving proof of claim,  every insurer shall immediately, but in no event more than 40 days, conduct an investigation and either accept or deny the claim in whole or in part. When settlement is reached, the insurer has up to 30 days to make payment.

If the investigation takes longer than 40 days, then insurer must notify you  in writing that additional time is needed, and issue a written claim status  every 30 days thereafter. A denial must contain a statement listing all basis  for such rejection.

When you make a claim for damages to your automobile, the insurance company will decide whether to repair your vehicle or declare it a total loss. Generally, if the cost to repair your vehicle is higher than the fair market  value of the vehicle, the company will declare it a total loss. Read your policy  carefully to determine when your company can declare your automobile a total  loss.

If the insurance company decides your vehicle is to be repaired, then the  insurer must give you a copy of the estimate to repair.  If you obtain an  estimate which exceeds the insurer’s estimate, then the insurer must reasonably  adjust any written estimates or furnish you the name of at least one repair shop  which will complete the repairs for the amount of the insurance company’s  written estimate. Betterment or depreciation may be assessed against the  settlement amount, but it must accurately reflect the value of such deductions.  An example of betterment would be the company painting your entire vehicle due  to old oxidized paint, when only the front fender of the vehicle was damaged. A new paint job puts you in a better condition than you were before the accident  occurred.

If your vehicle is declared a total loss, then the insurance company must  replace it with a comparable vehicle or pay the actual cash value of your  vehicle.  The actual cash value of a vehicle is the fair market price of  the vehicle if it was offered for sale in your local area. The amount of the  settlement must include sales tax and license fees. If you are not  advised  at the time of settlement where a comparable vehicle can be purchased, and you  are unable to locate one on your own within 35 days after receiving the claim  payment, then you need to notify the insurer. The insurer must then re-open the  claims file and make further efforts to adjust your loss.

The insurer also has the responsibility to determine which driver is at  fault.   Under the law, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault,  and there is a total of $750 in property damage, or if there are any injuries, you will be assessed a surcharge.   This means there will be an increase in your premium for the next 36-month period.