It might seem obvious, but don’t panic and don’t fret
Remind yourself to take a breath and note exactly what is going. When you’re running errands or are preoccupied with other things, finding your beloved car with a big dent in it can be a shock. I myself am a big day-dreamer and while I haven’t experienced someone crash into me, I have returned to ‘mysterious scratches’ on my car. Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself to assess the situation:
- How damaged is it?
- Are you or is anyone else injured at the scene?
- Can you smell gasoline? (If so, leave the scene immediately)
- Is whoever ran into you still at the scene?
- If not, have they left a note?
If the other party is still at the scene, now is the time to get their vehicle registration number, license details and contact details. It is fundamental that you don’t admit blame or accuse the party of anything. Now is the time to gather information and document what happened. Dashcams come in very for situations like these to determine who is at fault.
If no-one is in danger and your car is still drivable, we recommend you drive it to a safe place away from traffic and contact your insurer if you have the other driver’s details or the police if you don’t. Do this as quickly as possible as it takes some time for the wheels of paperwork to turn. In many American cities being stuck without a car is massive inconvenience and we recommend you rip off the band-aid and get the ball rolling as soon as possible. This brings us to our second point:
Gather your paperwork
After the initial crash, the worst problem without a doubt is paperwork – those big bureaucratic hoops to jump through. This is where the quality of your insurance comes into play and we hope that for your sake you chose right. Insurance claims can around 30 days, but may stretch to more than that. The paperwork you’ll need is:
- Your license
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Decide if you need to get your car repaired immediately
If you are short on cash and your car is still roadworthy, you might want to consider whether you want to get it immediately repaired as you will be liable for the deductible immediately. This could set you back anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. The statute of claim limitations varies between 1 and 15 years so if you do want to repair your car when you’re a bit more cash liquid, note the last day you can file. You should be able to simply plug in your state + “statute of insurance claims” into a search engine and quickly find what you’re looking for.
Know what you are claiming
Your insurer will undoubtedly have a detailed list of all the different types claims one can make in an accident, depending on the service you need. What will be available for you will depend on the level of coverage you have. If you only have compulsory third party insurance you will be only be able to claim for the other driver’s damage. However, if you have comprehensive insurance, you may want to consider claiming for the following five different claims:
Claiming your medical bills on your car insurance is usually directly taken care of by the person who hit into your car once all the documents are filed. There’s a number of different mechanisms that consider whether the other party has insurance and whether your state is ‘no fault’ or non-’no fault’.
If the person who hit into you doesn’t have insurance, you likely have two options. Naturally, in these cases if you get injured in some way you will likely have the other driver’s details. The more straightforward way is checking to see if your insurer has a liability policy this exact situation.
The speed and exact circumstances vary depending on whether you live in a non ‘no-fault’ or ‘no-fault’ state. No-fault states do not place the onus on the driver on is quicker to pay your medical bills up to your state’s mandated limit. The opposite is true for non-’no fault’ states.
Alternatively, you can the other party to court to pay for your medical bills. Unfortunately, the other party is only liable for personal damages and not any ongoing expenses you might have.
Roadside assistance is the bread and butter of car insurance claims. Most insurers include roadside assistance as a default part of their policy and have a fleet of vehicles to help when you need a tow. Some services are even available to be purchased on a need-based basis, cutting out the need for insurance all together! Your insurer will have a 24-hour line on their website which you can call to organise a tow or any other type of assistance. It’s unlikely that you will need to pay upfront for this service as usually your insurance will have covered this behind the scenes. If you do however need to pay a bill, your insurer should be able to quickly settle the statement.
Glass and Windscreen
Some insurers don’t include this policy by default into their packages, some will offer you the option of having a reduced excess when paying for a new windscreen and otherwise will cover it totally. The devil is in the details. The nature of glass and windscreen repair means that these repairs should be quicker. If you however require the original manufacturer to replace your glass, this will take a little longer than whatever your insurer’s local repair shop has available. Depending on the state you are in, driving with a cracked windscreen may render your car unroadworthy.
Thoroughly check the car for physical damage to ensure you have a comprehensive list on record. Common places to check for damage include the undercarriage, the fenders, the bumpers and the car body’s lines. All gaps on the car should fit snugly together. The undercarriage can also be checked with a flashlight to see if anything has come loose or broken in the accident. Simple claims will usually require less than a week to properly assess, however complex claims might necessitate an insurance adjuster assessing your vehicle in person. Of course, if your car is roadworthy you can drive it until you get it repaired.
A write off, or a total loss claim can take up to 30 days to resolve as a lot of paperwork has been required. A total loss claim means while it is possible to repair, it is uneconomical to do so.
Will I lose my no-claim bonus?
If you can prove that it was entirely the other party’s responsibility and can provide their details, your insurer will not remove your no-claim bonus. Some insurers have clauses that allow you to keep your no-claim bonus if you are only claiming windscreen repair or window glass damage. It definitely sucks if you do not have their details, but your insurer should be able to work with you on what you’re claiming. Check the clauses of the terms of service to see what is covered.
Who pays for medical bills after an accident?
Your insurer will pay through a process called insurance subrogation. They will pay upfront for your medical bills and then seek reimbursement from the third party on your behalf.