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The best way to handle a car accident insurance claim against my policy?
December 2, 2013 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Hopefully, this won't be an expensive lesson in car insurance practices, but I lent my car to a teenager... and she got into an accident.

Naively.. I lent a car to a teenage in-law for a relatively short road trip, not really thinking about the insurance liability... but Murphy's law always seems to intervene -- and her friend on the trip drove a section and got into an accident. I'm not exactly sure what all the details were, but it seems there was minor damage all around, and thankfully no one was hurt. The police weren't called, and both parties drove away from the accident after exchanging some contact information.

This all happened in California -- so the other driver's insurance is coming after my insurance policy (after tracking down my address from my license plate). My question is: now that I'm in this situation, is there a best way to handle this?

Since there was no police report, it's basically a he-said, she-said claim.. and I want to protect myself as much as possible. The letter I received already has language in it that makes it sound like it was *my* fault (even though I wasn't in the car). Should I be worried about that even though the damage is minor? Or should I stay in full paranoid mode? Should I just trust my insurance agent to handle it appropriately?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks, hivemind!
posted by lostguy to Law & Government (8 answers total)
 
i'm betting your insurance company will find out about this eventually, so, as pr people always tell their clients, you should get ahead of the story by telling your agent first, before s/he finds out about it from someone else. do not talk directly to the other driver's insurance company.

your teenage in-law let friend x drive it? boo.

it would help if we had more information as to whose fault this was. when you sit down with your agent, discuss the possibility of going after friend x's insurance. no, you should not be in any kind of paranoid mode, you should be in relief mode because these fools didn't kill or injure anybody. it's just a car.
posted by bruce at 7:19 PM on December 2, 2013


I thought this had an easy to understand explanation of what happens when someone else has an accident driving your car.
posted by cecic at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The insurance goes with the car and not the driver in a case like this, but you do need to speak with your in-law and her friend immediately. Make sure you get the whole story with all the details. Your insurance company and the other driver's insurance will want a recorded interview with the driver. The driver should be ready to give an accurate report of what happened and also be aware that the other driver's insurance company may try to bully them into taking more responsibility/fault for the accident. In-law's friend should be prepared and not take the interview lightly. The accident and final responsibility findings will still be attached to your policy.

Tell your agent and get their guidance. They will be able to tell you what to expect.
posted by quince at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This all happened in California -- so the other driver's insurance is coming after my insurance policy (after tracking down my address from my license plate).


The letter I received already has language in it that makes it sound like it was *my* fault (even though I wasn't in the car).

it's their job to make in sound like it's your fault. call your insurance company and get them on it.

make sure your teenage in-law owes you big time.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:43 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here are truths about accidents:

1. ALWAYS call the cops. Always.

2. After calling the cops, call your insurance company. Program them into your phone and download their app.

Call your insurance company and tell the truth. They're going to want to talk to the driver of the car at the time of the accident, so call your family member and find out all of that information so that you can give it to your claims person.

You may have your rates raised, or not. But you do have some recourse in that you can make the person you loaned the car to, responsible for compensating you for the hassle.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:20 AM on December 3, 2013


Not sure of the law in CA, but when my brother got in a collision in NYS while driving a friend's car, the other passengers were able to collect against the car owner's insurance, my brother's car insurance, and the insurance of everyone in my brother's household (including my car insurance, my parent's car insurance, and my parent's umbrella policy); he was not a minor at the time of the collision. My rates increased as a result of his accident with a friend's car (yes, I billed him for that). I believe this is due to the particularities of NYS insurance law, but the same/similar laws may exist in CA.

Stay in full paranoid mode. The other driver's insurance company will go after anyone else they think they can pin the cost on. Notify your insurance company, have the driver notify theirs (or their parents' policy).

Educate the teenager on how to properly respond to a collision, which is call the police. Every. Single. Time. And never apologize to the other driver.

The letter I received already has language in it that makes it sound like it was *my* fault (even though I wasn't in the car).

(A) It's their job to make it your fault; (B) But for your decision to loan your car to the teenager, this collision wouldn't have happened.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:03 AM on December 3, 2013


The teenage friend driver is possibly covered under his/her parent's policy as well. Get that policy info ready, and get them all in the mix.
posted by fontophilic at 9:30 AM on December 3, 2013


The teenager will be interviewed extensively by the insurance company. The insurance company will try to get them to say anything that might implement them as being at fault, asking the same questions repeatedly, etc.

You need to talk to them about what happened, and having them write down what happened with make talking to the insurance company far less stressful for them.
posted by yohko at 12:19 AM on December 4, 2013


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