Proper protocol after auto accident claims request?
August 6, 2012 12:41 PM   Subscribe

(CA) Driver who hit me is uninsured and I've begun the claims process with my ins. co. Should I give uninsured driver a head's up?

This is a fairly straightforward question and I wanted to get a flavor of what the proper protocol is. I was rear-ended on the freeway by an uninsured driver (not sure if the vehicle has insurance, it may not have been his car), got the plates, exchanged numbers. He left me a message the next day informing me that he didn't have insurance and wanted to know where things stand, as his lack of insurance may complicate things.

I have started the claims process, but have yet to respond to the driver. Should I give a call back or just let the insurance company handle it from this point on?
posted by chloe.gelsomino to Law & Government (17 answers total)
Let the insurance company handle it.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would call him out of courtesy. He will need to either prepare for being sued by your insurance company (via subrogation) or prepare to pay a settlement with your insurance company. It's a business matter; he should not be surprised by this.
posted by saeculorum at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2012

Let the insurance company handle it. That's what you pay them for. Getting involved in a person to person discussion of how to reimburse you for the damage is fraught with risk.

Ideally, one exchanges insurance information at the side of the road. Even more ideally, you'd have called the police and filed a report, though you might often find that they don't want to come out if there are no injuries or disabled cars in the middle of the road.
posted by rocketpup at 12:48 PM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

I think there are two different interpretations of the question going on:

keep it under cover and rocketpup seem to be answering the question "should I proceed with claiming via my insurance company or should I try to settle with the uninsured driver over the phone?" I seem to be answering the question, "given that I am claiming via my insurance company, should I try to tell the uninsured driver that I am doing so?". Clarifying the question might be helpful here.

If I am misinterpreting the question, keep it under cover and rocketpup are almost definitely correct. Someone that has no insurance is not likely to be able to pay you for the damages they cause; there's little reason to delay a claim in case they actually end up paying up. The insurance company already knows about the accident anyway, so they can and probably will use it to increase your insurance rates anyway even if you don't finish the claim.
posted by saeculorum at 12:52 PM on August 6, 2012

The complication of his lack of insurance is what you pay your insurance company to deal with. You can call him if you want, but it's bad news you'll be delivering: My insurance company will be in touch with you soon.
posted by carsonb at 12:57 PM on August 6, 2012

Best answer: My answer came from the viewpoint that the other driver would likely try to convince Chloe to cancel her claim (if such things are even possible) and accept some form of assurance that he will pay up. It's best never to even open the door to such discussions. You would either feel pressure to accept and lose your chance to be compensated or invite attempts at bullying by the other party to get you to change your mind. I don't think he could credibly be surprised to be contacted by Chloe's insurance company, given the circumstances.
posted by rocketpup at 12:58 PM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

I am not a lawyer, but I imagine the possibility of you inadvertently waiving rights during your conversation is possible enough to make any courtesy call not worth it. They will get a call from the insurance company who are trained to handle such contacts.
posted by inturnaround at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2012

saeculorum, I am answering the question of "given that I am claiming via my insurance company, should I try to tell the uninsured driver that I am doing so?"

The other driver should be expecting OP to file a claim with their insurance company, they do not need a heads up to realize that. I don't see why the other driver would have any reason to expect otherwise.

And as rocketpup said, going into further discussions with the other driver is both risky and unnecessary. The other driver will probably try to persuade OP to drop the insurance claim and settle between themselves, or start an argument about fault with OP. Either of these avenues of discussion would have no benefit to OP and possibly be detrimental to her claim. It's not worth it.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:04 PM on August 6, 2012

Fair enough. Personally, I'm fine with telling someone - as a statement, not as an open question - what I'm going to do, since I would like the same thing to happen to me in reverse. However, I agree that there is absolutely no expectation or requirement to do so, and I agree that the OP is absolved of all responsibility once the claim to the insurance company is filed.
posted by saeculorum at 1:08 PM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much, MiFis. This definitely reinforced my initial reaction to not call him back.

While I felt inclined to give him a courtesy response, the thought of complicating things is something I am not feeling up to task for, especially now that the claim has been opened up with my insurance company. He attempted to "square away" the situation prior to me getting his information (giving me $100, which I declined of course) and based on his squirrelly behavior, I had figured he wouldn't have insurance.
posted by chloe.gelsomino at 1:08 PM on August 6, 2012

Best answer: I got hit at a red light years ago by an uninsured driver who tried to run away but failed because his license plate number was imprinted on my bumper. I have no idea what the resolution was, and I don't need to know. All I know is that once my insurance company had the other driver's information, my insurance company paid for my car repairs without raising my rates, and I moved on with my life. That's all I needed, and that's all you need. Don't bother calling.
posted by postel's law at 1:17 PM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

If someone rear ends you and offers you $100, run away. The appropriate response is for them to give you their insurance information. A somewhat credible response is for them to ask for you to get an estimate from a body shop and say they will send you a check. But an on the spot offer of $100 to make it go away indicates this guy is either clueless himself or trying to pull one over on you. The slightest of rear end damage even for a light tap costs well over $100, even if the only thing being repaired is a scratched bumper -- assuming you care about the cosmetics.
posted by rocketpup at 1:18 PM on August 6, 2012

Always let insurance handle it. There are so many good resons for this and no good reason not to.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:21 PM on August 6, 2012

Based upon personal experience in the last 10 years, there is no "we" to check on the status of. He'll get a form from the DMV requesting proof of insurance at the time of the accident. If he doesn't provide it, his license will be suspended for a year. It's pretty automatic.
posted by rhizome at 1:27 PM on August 6, 2012

You've found one of the upsides of having insurance: you don't have to deal with the other guy.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

NO, do not in any way contact him, and do not respond when he attempts to contact you. (If he calls and you happen to pick up? Just hang up, do NOT talk to him.) Let your insurance company handle this: that's what you've paid them all those premiums for! Your company will take care of all contact with him or his own (if any!) insurance company.
posted by easily confused at 4:25 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a little tangential to the question, but in the hopes others find this, if possible always get several photos at the scene, especially one of the driver of the other car. It's not uncommon for people to later claim they were never there which can complicate claims, especially where fault isn't clear. You don't have to obvious or aggressive about it, just snap a photo when you get out of your car.

And definitely don't call the guy. If you can see damage on your car, it's already over $500 and an offer of $100 is crazy talk.
posted by maxwelton at 11:52 PM on August 6, 2012

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