Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tips on auto insurance claims

After this week's record-setting snowstorm, it seemed like a good time to post some tips on auto- and homeowners claims. We'll start with auto, and then put up a second post specifically about homeowners claims. For more, please see our auto claims web page.

Claims process
Get the name, contact info and insurance info of the other driver.
Get the names and contact info of anyone in the other car. We've seen fraud cases in which friends of a car's sole occupant claim that they were in the car, too, so they can file claims.
Call your agent or the company. They’ll walk you through the process.
That said, if it’s just your car and the damage is minor, you may want to just pay for repair yourself., especially if you have a high deductible.

In Washington state, you can generally choose which shop to take your car to, but the shop and the insurer must agree on price. If they can't agree, you may be stuck paying the difference.

Who pays
If you have collision coverage, the fastest thing may be to file a claim to your own insurer.
•      There’s often disagreement over who’s at fault. Unfortunately, these disputes fall outside our administrative authority. Work with the person processing the claim. In major disagreements, you may want to seek legal advice.
But if you’re confident that another person was at fault, you may want to wait for their insurance to pay. That way you won’t have a claim on your record
If the other person’s at fault, your insurer can also recover its costs from their insurer. This is called subrogation. If you file the claim against your insurer and they get the other driver's insurer to pay, you may get your deductible back.

Rental car?
If other person was at fault, their insurer will negotiate with you to pay for a rental car.
Or your policy might pay it for you.
Pay attention to the limitations, though: Rental car coverage is often limited to a short period of time. We often get complaints from people about this.

Diminished value
This is the difference in value between a repaired car and one that was never damaged. See if your policy covers this.
If you're making claim to other driver’s insurance, you need to prove that the value is diminished. This can be tough to do.