How to avoid getting screwed by another driver's insurance company?
July 10, 2013 5:32 AM   Subscribe

A relative was recently in an accident, and the other driver is at fault. It occurs to me that car insurance seems broken, since my relative is now trying to get paid by a company whose client is the other driver. How do we make sure they have our best interests in mind?

My relative ("she") was approaching a traffic light which turned red. She stopped, but the driver behind her ("he") did not. He squealed his tires and veered left, hitting the back left side of her car with his right. Everyone is fine, but it broke the axle and caused serious body damage. Police witnessed the accident and ticket the other driver, and he is clearly at fault.

Her car is an expensive luxury SUV. It is 9 years old but has only 25,000 miles on it, and is in excellent condition. Blue book values range from $17k for "good" condition to $34k for "excellent" condition. Since it is now his insurance that is paying for repairs, how does she make sure she doesn't get screwed? It seems to me that the other insurance company has no motivation to give her a fair deal. In the worst case scenario where the other insurance company wants to total the car, who/how is the pre-accident condition of the car decided?

To be clear, his insurance company hasn't gotten back to her with the adjuster's assessment yet. I'm just wondering if she should be thinking of contacting attorney's already, or if things are likely/not likely to go well for her through the "usual" insurance claims process.
posted by RobotNinja to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You have your insurance company deal with the other insurance company. Or rather, your relative has their insurance company deal with the other driver's insurance company.
posted by Grither at 5:33 AM on July 10, 2013 [18 favorites]

She has her insurance company battle it out with his insurance company. In this scenario, her insurance company is on her side.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:39 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm in this exact scenario right now and I am dealing exclusively with my own insurance carrier. (When you have damages in a car wreck, you need to notify your own carrier, regardless of who is at fault.)

Experience tells me you typically get better service through your own carrier. Your own carrier will then subrogate the claims paid for repair, medical payments, rental car reimbursement, etc. to the other party's carrier.

I would recommend she contact her own carrier immediately and open a claim.

And, there's no harm in contacting an attorney for a consultation, particularly if she has sought medical treatment, as a result of injuries sustained from the wreck, and/or diminished value of the vehicle may be in contest. The attorney will advise you if there's a case (they make their money on contingency).

Best of luck to her and I hope she is OK.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:47 AM on July 10, 2013

The other thing I'd suggest is that you or she should put together some documentation on the value of the car, including links to similar cars actually available, maintenance records, etc. My mom was in an accident like this many years ago -- damage to a car in unusually good condition, other driver at fault, dealing with it through her own insurance -- and they wanted to total the car and pay her a midrange blue-book settlement. She successfully argued that the car was worth quite a bit more than the insurance company's initial valuation.
posted by jon1270 at 5:59 AM on July 10, 2013

I'm in a similar situation right now. I was hit, the other driver was at fault. I notified my carrier (Progressive) but they told me to handle it with the other driver's company. So, while it may be easier to go through your own company, they may fob you off on the other guys.
posted by anansi at 6:47 AM on July 10, 2013

Your mileage may vary. We had liberty northwest (safeco) and they handled our claim 100%. We were with their subrogation department, which does nothing but deal with taking money from the insurance companies of at-fault drivers all day long.

Your relative should go with her insurance company and use things like her rental car coverage and medical coverage. Insurance companies have departments to handle this.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:55 AM on July 10, 2013

FWIW, their adjuster can report whatever they want, but your relative has the right to have repairs done wherever she wants. She should be getting quotes, too. And, then, it's up to the at-fault party's insurer to work with the repair shop your relative chooses on the costs. The at-fault insurer is *not* the final word on what will be paid for and at what cost. Your relative is.

Definitely get your relative's insurance company involved, if its only the local representative. They will walk you through everything, including your relative's rights and the at-fault insurer's responsibility.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:05 AM on July 10, 2013

How do we make sure they have our best interests in mind?

You don't. That's why you have an insurance company that wants to get as much as possible out of the other insurance company.
posted by Dasein at 7:06 AM on July 10, 2013

How do we make sure they have our best interests in mind?

Make it clear you'll sue.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:51 AM on July 10, 2013

As an aside, in theory the logic about having the two companies fight it out for you works even if you are in an accident with someone insured by the same company (or even the same agent!) who insures you. The insurer should assign each party to a different claims adjuster, preferably two that don't know each other and they resolve it like they would if they were dealing with a different company.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:00 AM on July 10, 2013

Work with your insurance, take your car where YOU'd like to go for repairs.

As long as the repair is less than totalling the car, your relative should be fine. Also, you can see if you're eligible for diminished value. You usually get this on newer vehicles. If they DO want to total the car, you may only get the 'book value' for the vehicle.

You can get values from Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book and NADA. Push for the highest value, and that's about all you can hope for.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2013

If your relative works through her own insurance company, she will be responsible for the deductible amount on her policy until subrogation is completed. This may be inconvenient. My work van (which is leased and insured by my employer) was recently damaged in a collision. The deductible was $1000 which I did not want to "front" my employer so I worked with the other driver's insurance. Fortunately they were easy to work with in regards to arranging for a rental and approving work with the collision repair shop I had chosen. Not all insurance companies are that easy to deal with, and I think the relative's insurer would be able to advise her in this regard. Of course if she has a low deductible working with her own insurance carrier would be a piece of cake. Value is generally determined by mileage within a range of values for a given year.
posted by coldhotel at 5:45 PM on July 10, 2013

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