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Not-At-Fault Auto Accidents

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Getting into a fender bender stinks!

It will derail your plans for the day, could cost you money, will cost you time.  It’s embarrassing standing on the side of the road as people are driving by you.  It’s one of those situations that even I, the forever optimist, can say has very VERY little  potential for a positive outcome.

Especially if someone rear-ends you.

We all get tail-gated from time to time or we have all been in a situation where someone stops behind us a little too close.(By the way if you are ever getting tail-gated by someone just slow down to like 5-10 mph.  Usually the person will back off, sometimes they get incredibly agitated which is very funny to watch)  Sometimes it’s a mistake and sometimes the person is just a jerk.  When it comes to auto insurance, the personality and disposition of the driver behind you doesn’t matter.  They are at fault whatever the case may be.

It’s a not-at-fault accident.  OK, no what?

Here is what you want to do if you are rear ended or in any type of not-at-fault accident (NAF)…

  1. Get the Other Driver’s (OD) information-name, address, phone number.
  2. Obtain the OD’s insurance information.  Company, policy holder’s name (especially if it’s a young driver who may be on a parents policy), policy number.
  3. Get the information on the OD’s vehicle.  Year, make and model.  VIN if possible.
  4. Take notice of the time, date and location of the accident.
  5. Take pictures.  We all have iPhones and droids.  Take pictures of your car as well as the OD’s.

Once you have this information you should contact your agent.  It doesn’t have to be at the scene of the accident.  But the next chance you get, contact your agent and discuss the situation.

With NAF accidents, your agent should recommend contacting the OD’s insurance company to set up a claim.  You do not want to call your carrier unless there is an issue with the OD or their insurance company.  Usually there is no problem.  The OD’s insurance carrier will inspect your vehicle, give an estimate for the damages, issue a payment, authorize a rental car (if needed) and close the claim.

Although a NAF accident is annoying, for the most part they are handled appropriately and you are left satisfied once all is said and done.

Sometimes,though, things go awry.  Here are a few examples…

  • The OD doesn’t have insurance (as recently happened to a friend and one of our Insureds)

If you are in this situation then you will need to report the damage to your insurance company.  You will pay your deductible.  My friend reported the OD to the police and a citation was issued.  Your carrier will pay the claim and then they will subrogate against the OD.  If they receive any money back from the OD then your deductible will be returned.  This is a lengthy process as usually collections are involved.  Plus, anyone driving around without insurance is probably not too likely to start reimbursing an insurance company.

  • The OD does not return phone calls to their insurance company.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, the OD does not return phone calls to their insurance company.  In this case, you will go through the same process as indicated above.  Only this time, your carrier will complete the investigation of the accident which increases the probability that your deductible will be returned.  It is still a lengthy process but the light at the end of the tunnel is much brighter.

  • The OD’s insurance company indicates your car is a total loss and will not pay to fix it but rather writes a check for the value of the vehicle.

I hate this one.  Imagine you are driving a 15 year old Honda or Toyota.  It was your wife’s grandmom’s car.  It is incredibly valuable to you as it is your second car.  Very reliable and incredibly inexpensive to maintain.

*BOOM*

You’re rear-ended.  Four thousand dollars worth of damage.  The OD’s insurance company is going to call that car a total loss because the value of the car is less than the amount needed to make the repairs.  You get a check for the value-$3,500.  Good luck finding a car as reliable as your 15 year old Toyota.

Sometimes, the insurance company will allow you to negotiate a way to keep the car.  Ask the claim rep if this is a possibility.  If it is not, then unfortunately you are screwed.

 

Always call your agent if you have been in any type accident whether you are at fault or not.  Never admit fault at the scene of accident.  If you are a tailgater—BACK OFF!

Your rates should not increase because of a not-at-fault accident when your policy renews.  Make sure to get an explanation from your agent if the rates do increase.

 

Have you even been rear-ended?  Did you experience any problems with the other carrier?

-Keith Laskey-

 

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