Written by: Reginald C. Hair
Safe drivers assume that they will never be involved in a car wreck. This is a bad assumption to make. Although you may be able to control your actions, you are never able to control the decisions that other drivers make. To protect yourself, it is good to have an understanding of what typically occurs after a car wreck.
The purpose of this blog is to give you a brief overview of how a property damage claim gets resolved.
For educational purposes, we will assume that the person reading this blog has not been listed at fault for causing the collision. Immediately, you may think, “If I didn’t cause the collision, the at-fault party’s insurance company should be responsible for securing my rental car and repairing my car.” In a perfect world, that would be the case. Once a claim is filed with the insurance company, bodily injury and property damage adjusters are assigned to the claim.
The investigatory process requires a great deal of patience. Your insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurance company both have the right to investigate the collision and accept or deny liability. Note that this investigatory process is conducted even if the FR-10 (document you receive from the police officer) has the other driver listed at fault for causing the collision. If the at-fault party’s insurance company accepts liability, the company should provide you with a rental car until your car is either (1) repaired or (2) declared a total loss. Should your vehicle be deemed a total loss, a property damage settlement check may be issued.
There are situations for which liability is considered “pending.” How so? Here’s the short answer. Although the at-fault party is listed at-fault for causing the collision on the FR-10, he/she may have advised their insurance company that the police officer made a mistake.
In these circumstances, both insurance companies will likely ask you to provide a statement that will be recorded to determine liability. Please consult with an attorney before giving a recorded statement to an insurance company. You will often be asked questions about your injuries. However, you should not discuss your injuries, as they have no bearing on whether or not you caused the collision. Sharing information with an insurance adjuster regarding your injuries can be used against you to devalue your bodily injury claim, which may jeopardize your case.
Rental Reimbursement Coverage
The at-fault party’s insurance company should provide you with a rental car a couple of days after the collision. This does not always happen. If you cannot wait on the at-fault party’s insurance company to accept liability and provide you with a rental car, it would benefit you to use the rental reimbursement coverage under your insurance policy.
Rental reimbursement coverage is optional coverage that, if purchased, provides you with a rental car while your vehicle is in the body shop for repairs from a covered loss. For people that decided not to purchase rental reimbursement coverage, you have two options: (1) pay for your own rental car and seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurance company, or (2) wait until the at-fault party’s insurance company accepts liability.
Once liability has been accepted, the property damage adjuster will inspect your car to determine what was damaged and will provide you with an estimate for the repairs. The property damage adjuster should provide you with a full report from a body shop. After reviewing the full report, you will want to select a body shop to perform the repairs.
If the car is repairable, the insurance company may send you a settlement check and let you handle the bill, or the insurance company may pay the body shop directly. In the event that your car is declared a total loss, you will be given a settlement check for the market value of your car at the time it was involved in the collision. This check may or may not cover the amount of money you owe your lender.
To review, property damage claims require a lot of patience. Even when liability is clear, property damage adjusters may deny accepting liability for various reasons. Please consider purchasing rental reimbursement coverage if you do not have it.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
You should not have to deal with the insurance companies alone. At the Solomon Law Group, we will represent you and fight for you. We want you to be able to focus all of your attention on your recovery and well-being.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car collision, call the Solomon Law Group today at (803) 391-3120. You can speak with a Columbia, SC car accident lawyer about your options for free.