Involved in accident, at-fault party's insurance couldn't pay for all
January 3, 2014 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Involved in a four-car accident, at-fault party's insurance couldn't cover all the property damages. Now what?

I was involved in a four-cars accident couple weeks ago. I need some guidance on how to proceed with claim.

I stopped in the traffic when a distracted driver rear-ended into a white van, which caused the white van to rear-ended into my car. The momentum of the impact also caused my car to hit a blue van in front of me. There were heavy damage to the white van, moderate damage to my car, and light damage to the blue van. I was uninjured and my car is still drivable. The police report determined the distracted driver was at fault and a citation was issued.

I have a very good comprehensive coverage with GEICO, which included both collision and under/uninsured motorist coverage. However, I have a $1000 deductible. I just moved to a new state, there are no geico agents within 100 miles radius that I could consult with. I called Allstate, which is at-fault party's insurance, they suggested that I file a collision claim with GEICO and pay the $1000 deductible while the insurance companies sort out the settlement. Allstate also notify me that there weren't enough coverage with at-fault party's insurance to pay for all damage claims.

Is that the best way to proceed: pay the $1000 deductible and hope GEICO will be able to recover my loss for me? I will be able to pay the $1000 out of pocket.
posted by Carius to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is that the best way to proceed: pay the $1000 deductible and hope GEICO will be able to recover my loss for me?

That's not just the best way to proceed, it's the only way to proceed. The fact that the at-fault driver reached the insurance limit does not relieve the at-fault driver of liability for the accident. However, GEICO is either going to determine that getting money from the at-fault driver is infeasible (it's very hard to get money from someone when their insurance has been exhausted) or will proceed with legal action against the at-fault driver/insurance, get as much money as possible, and refund your deductible when that action is complete.
posted by saeculorum at 12:02 PM on January 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

It seems that you have a contract with Geico. It's their problem to get the $1k, not yours.

If your coverage includes uninsured motorist, I can't imagine that being subject to the deductible. Your policy should be explicit on that. Are you absolutely certain?

I've been wrong so often I have a callous on that part of my brain, but hey... something smells fishy. Or lizard-y.
posted by FauxScot at 12:21 PM on January 3, 2014

I was in an accident very like the one you describe. I was hit by the at-fault driver, and the collision chain went up three other cars in front of me. I had to pay my deductible ($500), and my insurance company eventually refunded that when they finished negotiating with the at-fault driver's insurance. It did take a long time. I remember being surprised when I got the refund check, the accident had been six-nine months earlier.
posted by gladly at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2014

In a similar accident, I hired a lawyer.

Recently, in a different accident, when the other party's insurance company was being difficult, I informed them I was looking into getting a lawyer.

Geico is not your friend, and neither is AllState.

See a lawyer if you want to be sure, otherwise, pay the deductible and cross your fingers.
posted by jbenben at 1:10 PM on January 3, 2014

i would sue in small claims court against the driver at fault and maybe white van guy as well, for the deductible and any incidentals like time value and specific consequences not covered by geico.
posted by bruce at 1:25 PM on January 3, 2014

I've been hit by another driver while insured by Geico. They told me I should proceed with damage assessment / repairs on my own policy while they pursued the claim against the other driver's insurance, and when the claim was resolved, my policy would be reimbursed. This is standard. The alternative is to wait for the claim to be resolved before proceeding, but that just delays the whole repair process.

(As it turns out, the other guy was also insured by Geico, and the claim was resolved very quickly - days, not weeks. But my vehicle was a total loss, and it cost a lot more to buy a replacement. Sigh.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2014

LAWYER. Trust me, lawyer.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:15 PM on January 3, 2014

Best answer: As a lawyer (but not your lawyer) that handles tort claims, it's my sense that your best bet is to submit tis claim to your insurer and press them to assert your claim, along with theirs against the at fault driver and his insurer.

I doubt you will find hiring a lawyer to be economically sensible it the only amount that is not covered by your insurance is $1000. Most cases like this are handled on a contingent fee basis where the lawyer takes a percentage (usually one-third) of the recovery as a fee. I'm fairly certian that you will not want to pay 1/3 of the amount that your insurer is willing to pay voluntarily, and reputable lawyers will not take a fee on money that is paid without contest.

However if $1000 is the amount in controversy, I'm pretty sure that you will have a great deal of difficulty finding a lawyer to take this on for a contingent fee of $333.33. You will not want to pay an hourly fee to collect $1000 on a case like this.
posted by mygoditsbob at 10:26 PM on January 3, 2014

Odd. When a drunk driver hit my husband and totalled my car, it was the lawyer that made sure we got what we needed to get. Maybe the diff was hubby chipped his teeth and had medical bills, but I know it really mattered in our case.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:26 PM on January 4, 2014

Medical bills are the difference, generally.
posted by litlnemo at 7:04 PM on January 4, 2014

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