We need more help...
September 29, 2010 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Wife was in a car accident. We're still having serious difficulties.

The wife was in a car accident. Thank you for the advice, btw. We're still having major issues dealing with it.

TOD is still completely denying what the wife and two witnesses said, and the police report, which states her as guilty, is nowhere near ready. We get the feeling that she will continue to lie as much as she can.

Our insurance adjuster hasn't even seen the car yet, and they don't seem too interested in actually solving the case. They have also told us not to rent a car (we need one) and to "get a ride somehow". It is almost impossible to get a hold of her, and she really doesn't seem to be doing anything about it.

She did however, give us the option of paying our collision deductible so they would start working on the car, while investigating about liability. We're scared that TOD's liability will never be proven, and her insurance adjuster seems to be prolonging the process unnecessarily. The other option is to wait until liability is accepted by TOD's insurance, and pay for the towing, storage, etc. out of pocket, to get reimbursed (which will probably be horrible paperwork)

If we decide to pay the deductible so our insurance can deal with it, Will our payments go up? Is it like accepting liability?

Should we lawyer up?

Would you rent a car?

Is it true that we need to get the car out of storage as soon as possible, because they won't pay for it if it's there for too long?

Do you have any general tips, experience or comments to help us through this crap?
posted by Marduk to Law & Government (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When you say your insurance adjuster, do you mean your local representative or someone who is working at the actual insurance company? I would try asking for someone who is better able to address your questions, whether it's someone further toward management or someone more directly involved in the resolution process.

Whatever you do, do not deal with the other person's insurance agent directly. Speak to your company, demand whatever you are allowed as spelled out in your policy assuming a no-fault or other party at fault collision.
posted by mikeh at 2:32 PM on September 29, 2010

thank you, mikeh. I mean the person who is handling our claim. She seems to be in charge of seeing our car, evaluating damage, etc. She hasn't done anything even though she tells us she'll do stuff ASAP. The accident happened on Saturday. Still nobody has seen the car. We asked the towing yard guy.
posted by Marduk at 2:34 PM on September 29, 2010

Just to clarify, is this person someone who works for your insurance company, or someone who works for the other driver's insurance company?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:36 PM on September 29, 2010

Ours. TOD's contacted the wife once, to get her side of the story. After that, we have only been dealing with our insurance agent.
posted by Marduk at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2010

Go through your insurance company. Pay the deductible. You'll get it back later. Your insurance will not go up if the accident was not your fault. Your insurance company will tell you whether your policy has rental replacement coverage. If it doesn't, then you may still be able to get a rental through the other insurance. When this happened to me I called them with their case number, which hopefully your wife got when they called her, and told them I wanted a rental. They told me who they used and what class I was eligible for if I were to get reimbursed. Then, when TOD accepted responsibility the other insurance company paid the bill.
posted by IanMorr at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2010

Thank you. The day she called the wife we asked her exactly that. She played dumb and after a lot of insisting she said they would approve a 24.99/day rental. The cheapest thing we've found is 40.00 for an economy. We had a SUV.
posted by Marduk at 2:45 PM on September 29, 2010

I recently spent two years dealing with a case sort of like this, where I was also (very clearly) not the driver at fault.

You really do need an attorney. In my experience - two accidents of my own, plus watching a roommate go through a situation where her car was hit by a tractor-trailer while driving on the highway - neither insurance company will really get moving until there is an attorney involved, and even then it may take a long, long time to sort things out.

posted by anastasiav at 2:52 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

We get the feeling that she will continue to lie as much as she can.

So what? No one is going to believe her over the physical evidence.

Is it true that we need to get the car out of storage as soon as possible, because they won't pay for it if it's there for too long?

Absolutely true and standard.

Our insurance adjuster hasn't even seen the car yet, and they don't seem too interested in actually solving the case.

Of course she's interested in solving the case; if she can prove TOD's fault, she likely gets a performance bonus. That doesn't mean it's her highest priority, or that she has infinite time available to her. Less than a week's response time is hardly out of the ordinary for many insurance companies. You should expect things to take weeks, not hours.

I once witnessed an accident where a woman drove into an intersection a good 30 seconds after it had turned green for the other directions. She hit a car broadside hard enough to push it across 3 lanes of traffic, then put her car in reverse, backed into another car, made a full circle thru the gas station on the corner and drove into the back of third car. Two months after the accident, her insurance agent called to get my version of the accident.
posted by nomisxid at 2:54 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Start a diary and save every note, paper, phone message, if your state allows recording then record all phone calls, if your state does not permit recording it cannot stop you from recording your own side of the conversation [ "you say to contact ABC Towing, where is that? 123 XYZ Street? got that"] for your own note keeping purposes. You can talk faster than you can write notes, that will be a valuable thing. Take photos of the car, the scene of the accident and everything you can.

Be prepared for issues as yet unknown by doing a bit of over kill.
posted by Freedomboy at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2010

"Should we rent a car?" I don't know. Does your policy cover car rental in case of an accident? With *my* auto insurance company, that's an option, but not an automatic one. Don't assume that your policy covers the rental car, and that it will just turn on who's at fault. Even if the other driver is indeed held liable, you might not be covered.
posted by kestrel251 at 2:59 PM on September 29, 2010

RE the rental car & rental per diem: When we were in that situation the Insurance company had negotiated rates with Avis or Hertz. See if your insurance company does the same (though it sounds like you're getting a run-around with them as well...jerks.)
posted by Wink Ricketts at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2010

kestrel251, are you sure? I thought they would be liable for the accident cost, and anything that derives from the accident. TOD damaged our only car, and we still need to go places.

Our own insurance does not cover rental for us.
posted by Marduk at 3:02 PM on September 29, 2010

We are considering getting a lawyer. We want to get out of this as soon and as best compensated as possible.
posted by Marduk at 3:07 PM on September 29, 2010

Hmm... I guess I'm not SURE sure, and it probably depends on the state. Take what I said with a grain of salt; I shouldn't have spoken so authoritatively.

But in NJ I was in an accident where the other driver was 100% at fault, and the rental car was covered by MY insurance. I remember this because the cost of the rental car was more per diem than my coverage (I don't remember exactly, but it was e.g. $30/day for the car and my coverage was $20/day), and I had to swallow the discrepancy. But the $$ for my totaled car, AND the deductible, was paid by the other party's insurance. (My insurance cut me a check quickly, and then sought reimbursement from the other company).

I GUESS I could have lawyered up about the rental car cost, but it was hardly worth it.
posted by kestrel251 at 3:09 PM on September 29, 2010

//Less than a week's response time is hardly out of the ordinary for many insurance companies. You should expect things to take weeks, not hours.//

I'm going to disagree strongly with this. My wife went through this last year, complete with an uncooperative TOD, injuries to my wife that required 4 months of physical therapy, etc. Our insurance company (one of the big national ones) had a check in our hands for our totaled vehicle(minus my deductible) within about a week. Once the legal proceedings were through and TOD was found guilty of running a red light, I also got my deductible back. If the police are writing TOD a ticket it's going to be her fault, unless TOD somehow beats the ticket in traffic court. If you are with an insurance company that expects to get paid before they take care of their own policy holders you need to run screaming from these people at first opportunity (once all this is done.)

I could see an insurance company taking up to a week to examine your car, but anymore than that and it's time to go up the management chain and complain about crappy service.

Unless you are with some low end insurance company, they should have deals with rental companies where the insurance company gets billed directly by the rental company. All I did was sign stuff and Enterprise and my insurance company dealt with the finances on the rental. I never even knew how much the rental was. I do have rental coverage on my policy through.
posted by COD at 3:12 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are with an insurance company that expects to get paid before they take care of their own policy holders you need to run screaming from these people at first opportunity (once all this is done.)

This. Your insurance company should surely pay you first! If you want a recommendation: Amica has been good to me.
posted by kestrel251 at 3:14 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

We are considering getting a lawyer.

Just consider that a lawyer's bills will add up quickly. Possibly a lot faster than the cost of a long-term car rental, if you negotiate.
posted by Dasein at 3:16 PM on September 29, 2010

Marduk - unfortunately, many state laws only stipulate "basic transportation" in payment/reimbursement for rental cars by a third party/adverse insurer. In English: they owe you a rental, but not necessarily the equivalent of the car that was wrecked.

Re: moving your car from the wrecker yard - that's your adjuster's job (or whichever adjuster ordered the tow) and the insurer will be the one to pay if the car starts racking up storage fees. S/he's probably leaving it at the tow yard for now, until the damage appraiser can see it, because once it leaves the wrecking yard it becomes harder for the appraiser to access, and more damage can be incurred. It's safe at the wrecking lot - that's why they charge up to $50/day (depending on where you live) to keep it there.

Re: time frame - once a rental car has been approved and appraiser sent to see your car, your adjuster (and/or the adverse adjuster) will be hustling hard because every day s/he pays for car storage and car rental has his/her supervisor breathing flames.

Since TOD is denying, expect to give a recorded statement to your and possibly the adverse insurer. However, your resolution should come pretty quickly, based on the above. Then your insurer (if you're sticking with the claim with your insurer and not going directly against the adverse carrier) can recover against the other carrier without you're having to be further involved.

Re: TOD's lying - We always kept a bunch of Hot Wheels cars and trucks at our desks, which we used in conjunction with driver/witness statements, police reports and appraiser's damage photos to re-enact the crashes, and I think we generally got it right. You can lie all you want; the angles tell the truth.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:50 PM on September 29, 2010

I thought they would be liable for the accident cost, and anything that derives from the accident.

They may well be legally liable, but if one insurance company or another is not going to willingly pay up, the only way to get compensated is to win a lawsuit.

I would talk to your insurance agent and tell them about the trouble the adjuster is giving you. Have them explain EXACTLY what coverage you have been paying for, and tell you how to go about filing a claim to get that coverage.

Or ask them for a copy of the policy and figure it out for yourself. In order to be successful, you have to know what coverage you have been paying for. It is a rare individual or company who will honestly answer the question "so, exactly how much money do you owe me?"

Explain to anyone you encounter within the company that you have been paying for a certain coverage, and that the company is going to honor the coverage you have been paying for. Explain to them that it really doesn't matter at all what the other guy says: your car has been damaged in an accident, and you'd like it fixed. As well as any other pieces of coverage the company is contractually obligated to provide you.

( I don't know why i have this impression, but I *believe* some insurance companies use independent adjusters who work on a case by case basis. Their best interests are not aligned with yours. Beware.)
posted by gjc at 5:59 PM on September 29, 2010

She played dumb and after a lot of insisting she said they would approve a 24.99/day rental. The cheapest thing we've found is 40.00 for an economy. We had a SUV.

While I appreciate that you had a SUV, right now you need transportation. Have you called Enterprise? When my car was hit, I rented through Enterprise local and it was about $15 a day 'collision rate'. You may have to compromise on not getting a SUV, but rentals to cover you in event of an accident don't promise to give you the same class car, just to make sure you have transportation.

Your adjuster sucks. My car got hit and run, in that while I saw it (as did dozens of other people), when I pursued the damaged vehicle to where it pulled over, when I turned around to take out my phone, the guy ran away. Then, about 10 minutes later, the owner of the vehicle mysteriously turned up at my location saying that "a friend" told her that they had "seen her car on the street" and that she had left it running out side warming up (on a balmy Seattle fall night). Her insurance company was some rinky dink nonsense that denied everything. After getting the runaround, I called my insurance company who took a look at the record, saw who we were dealing with, made some disapproving noises, and told me that they would reimburse me and then just deal with them because it was going to take a while based on her experience. I had a check for my deductible about a week later.

I am not sure a lawyer is going to be much quicker, and unless there was personal injury involved, I would pay the deductible, get my car fixed and get on with my life. If you have to lawyer up later, then lawyer up late.r
posted by micawber at 9:00 PM on September 29, 2010

Marduk, I used to be an Automobile claims adjuster. It was a long time ago--but much of what were rules then are still rules now. Witnesses are KEY. Were the witnesses "independent" (meaning, were they bystanders not known by either driver?) If one or more of the independent witnesses side with your wife's version you are in excellent shape. If such is not the case it is very likely that the other company will "uphold" their policyholders version of what happened (they are actually required to do this unless it can be proven that their policyholder is lying).

Generally when you carry collision coverage you also have rental reimbursement. I recommend that you go through your own company, pay the deductible, and rent any economical car until the situation is completely sorted.

I was in an accident recently and I was shocked with how awful both my own company (that I used to work for) and the other company treated me! Steel yourself for all that--(and write again if your vehicle is deemed a total loss---I learned a lot about that entire process!). If you have the independent witness phone #'s it would not hurt to call them and verify what they are prepared to say or have already said in statements. I did that after 3 weeks of being jerked around and my witness was great. I hope you have the same outcome (that the other company accepts liability).
posted by naplesyellow at 10:17 PM on September 29, 2010

p.s. of course your company is required to get your deductible back from the other company in what is called subrogation. Liability has to be established, however. The companies are both "investigating" and in order to move things ahead it is wise to go through your own collision coverage.
posted by naplesyellow at 10:20 PM on September 29, 2010

I was in an accident where TOD driver lied to the police, claiming that the accident was my fault (he went so far as to tell the officer that I was on my phone - even though I was not and could easily prove it through phone records). The accident was not my fault in any way - which the police could tell from the damage to my car and from an eye witness.

TOD's insurance refused to deal with my insurance company.

I paid my deductible and my insurance company paid for everything over the deductible. My insurance company used their lawyers to deal with TOD's insurance. The complaint went through subrogation. Ultiminately, my insurance company won and was reimbursed by TOD's insurance company. Then, my insurance company sent me a check for my deductible.

I would recommend that you pay your deductible (yeah, it stinks, but it's better than being without a car for months). The insurance company should cut you a check for the rest, so you can purchase a new car. You will likely get your deductible back eventually.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:42 PM on September 30, 2010

« Older I hope I can read the popup reminder...   |   How to negotiate better rent in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.