One of the most difficult, but necessary, components of the car accident claim process is dealing with the insurance company. Now, you might have thought the purpose of auto insurance is to protect injury victims in the event of an accident. And in theory, this is true. But getting the compensation you deserve can be more challenging than you might realize. It takes a certain level of experience to negotiate a bodily injury settlement that meets your needs.
Below, we go into further detail about how fault works when you’re filing an insurance claim, what to expect from the liable insurer after you file, and some of the insurance company tactics you will want to know before going into negotiations.
How Fault Works With Insurance Claims
After a car accident, you will need to file a claim with the insurance company. But which insurer are you going to file a claim with? It depends on the state you live in. Some states are fault states for car accidents and insurance, while others are no-fault states.
In daily states, you file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. But if you live in a no-fault state, you can file a claim with your own auto insurer. This is because no-fault states require their drivers to carry a type of coverage known as personal injury protection (PIP).
When you have PIP coverage, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident. Your own insurer is required to cover certain losses if you carry PIP on your auto insurance policy. The insurer can then file a subrogation claim against the liable driver to recoup the money the insurance company lost when they paid out on your injury settlement.
What to Expect From the Insurer
Whether you are dealing with your own insurer or that of the liable party, you can expect some pushback. The insurance company isn’t going to simply settle your claim fairly so you can get back to your life. That would cost them more money than they are willing to spend.
Instead, they’ll be looking for opportunities to reduce your settlement wherever possible. Your lawyer will be able to protect you from being taken advantage of during this difficult time in your life. But it is important to remember the insurance company is only required to pay out up to the highest limit of the insured’s auto policy.
If the liable party only carries $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, you file a claim with their insurer, and your losses are higher than $25,000, you’ll be in trouble. The insurer will only be obligated to pay $25,000.
So how do you recover the rest? Your best option after negotiating for the maximum amount with the insurance company may be to bring your case to court, where a judge or jury can award you the compensation you deserve.
Tactics to Beware of & How to Prepare
We mentioned above, insurers will try to take advantage of claimants to reduce the amount they pay out on injury settlements. There are two main ways they do this:
- Make you a low, fast offer
- Try to put blame on you for the accident
The insurance company knows you need money. If they make you an offer fast, it’s almost certainly for much less than you’re entitled to. And if they can blame you for the accident, your award will be reduced by your portion of fault.
The best way to protect yourself from being taken advantage of is to have your personal injury attorney handle all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf.