Should You Call Your Car Insurance Company if a Car Accident Was Not Your Fault?
Imagine this – you were at the intersection of Fairbanks and Orlando Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. You travel through a green light when somebody runs a red light and t-bones you.
You lose consciousness for a second then come to. You can tell that you do not feel well. The police are responding. Next thing you know you are in an ambulance and taken to the emergency room. You get to the emergency room and are checked out by the ER physician. Thankfully, the ER doctor does not see any broken bones or fractures and determines that you do not need to stay overnight. You’re discharged and are set home with orders to follow up with your primary care physician.
You go home and go to bed. You wake up the next morning and you think to yourself, “should I call my insurance company and report the accident even though it wasn’t my fault?”
The short answer is yes, you should call your insurance company and report the claim. Before you do that, you should speak with a personal injury attorney to learn about your rights. You should also speak with a personal injury attorney to learn about what benefits your auto policy gives you.
Should I call a personal injury attorney before I call my insurance company?
I hear it all the time – “the insurance adjuster was really nice” or “the insurance adjuster told me that the other person will have to pay.” The next question I ask is whether you gave a recorded statement or not and, inevitably, the answer is almost always “yes.”
I’m going to fill you in on a little secret – insurance adjusters should almost always be “nice” to you on the phone if you do not already have an attorney. Remember, they want to build trust and have you talk to them.
Insurance adjusters are employed to resolve claims for the least amount of money they can. This is separate from a personal injury attorney, who owes you a fiduciary duty. That means that an attorney should act in your best interest. An insurance company adjuster does not have to act in your best interest.
I often tell a joke to my clients that insurance companies do not make money when they pay claims. When you call an insurance company, the adjuster wants to get as much information as possible. This is to help the insurance company mitigate their damages.
When you call an insurance company after a car accident, they will want to take your recorded statement. Since the normal person does not have experience with the questions asked during a recorded statement, oftentime you won’t understand the questions.
Your recorded statement can later be used if you file a claim against your own car insurance company. This would occur if you have underinsured motorist coverage (which you absolutely should carry). Your recorded statement may also be used to impeach you if your insurance company denies your PIP claim.
Speaking with an attorney before calling your insurance company can help to protect your rights after an accident. In fact, my office will actually report your claim for you to your insurance company. If a recorded statement is requested and required under the policy, we will be right there with you while you give it.
My theory is that insurance companies want recorded statements as soon as possible after the car accident because your injuries have not set in. The adrenaline is pumping and the inflammation is down. This is why it is important to be prepared for the questions that they are going to ask. This is also why it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney before you contact the insurance company to report the claim.
What is My Insurance Company Going to do After My Car Accident?
Many people do not realize that they will qualify for insurance benefits from their own insurance company after a car accident. For example, all Florida car insurance policies have what is called “personal injury protection” benefits, also known as “no-fault” or “pip.” That means that if you were involved in a car accident, regardless of fault, you should qualify for up to $10,000.00 in insurance that can cover your medical bills and lost wages.
In addition to no-fault insurance, there are two other insurance coverages that you may benefit from. These are your collision insurance and your underinsured motorist coverage insurance. Let’s talk about collision insurance first.
Collision insurance covers the physical damage to your vehicle in an accident. This means that after an accident, you can file a claim through your own insurance company to fix the physical damage to your vehicle.
Why would you want to file through your own insurance?
Yes, you will have to pay your deductible. But filing through your own insurance can make things a whole lot easier. If you have collision insurance, filing a claim through your own insurance means that your insurer will work with you to get your car repaired. Since you are a customer of your insurance company, they will (ideally) try to give you good customer service to get your car fixed.
Additionally, if the person who caused the accident has insurance, your insurance company will file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. This is to try to get refunded the money that they paid to get your car fixed (this is called “subrogation”). Once your insurance company gets reimbursed, they should reimburse you the deductible that you paid. I have found that it is almost always easier for my clients to file the property damage portion of the claim with their own insurance company.
Additionally, you will want to file the claim with your own insurance company so that you can tap into your no-fault benefits. You will also want to file the claim with your own insurance company to access your underinsured motorist coverage. This is coverage that will kick in to cover your injury if the person who hit you does not have adequate insurance coverage to pay for the medical bills and damages.