Car_Insurance_Filter: An accident, a No-Fault State, and liability only
April 24, 2014 11:04 AM   Subscribe

A seemingly straight-forward car accident has turned into a puzzling conundrum thanks to No-Fault State laws.

Last night, I was hit by a guy who ran a red light. No question, it was his fault. The sites of damage alone make that clear, but I even collected contact info from several witnesses just to cover my butt. My car was rendered un-drivable.

Sounds straight-forward, right? Behold, the complications:

- I live in a No-Fault State (Minnesota). These laws seem to only spell out repercussions for bodily harm/medical bills. I can't find any clear details on whether or not vehicle damage can be reimbursed by the liable party's insurer (i.e. the other guy).

- I carry Liability-Only insurance. My car is a hobbled, duct-taped, 15-year-old junker, and I had already arranged to ditch it in June and inherit my mom's old car, so I dialed down my coverage.

- The police never arrived. I called twice and waited over an hour. There is no police report or record of the accident beyond my call to emergency services.

- The man that hit me is Somali, spoke very little English, and seemed deeply confused by the entire situation. I collected his contact and insurance information, just to be safe. Hate to make assumptions, but the guy doesn't seem like the type to have robust auto coverage.

- I'm not really looking to get my car fixed. Again, it's a 15-year-old junker. There's no way I'm dropping several thousand dollars on it. I was going to replace it with a (free) vehicle in a month anyway. I would, however, love a rental for the short term, if I can get someone else to pay for it.

- Got the car towed, for free (thanks, AAA!), to my garage, where it currently resides.

So...what do I do?

I've held off on calling my insurance company, as those jerks seem to raise my rates every time I sneeze. So far, this incident has cost me $0, and I'd like to keep it that way. Plus, the sketchiness of the other driver combined with the murkiness of No-Fault laws makes me think I won't be getting a dime out of this anyway.

posted by sureshot to Law & Government (8 answers total)
If you are not injured, the no-fault laws have no impact on this incident. Those are for medical costs and such, not property damage.

If you would like this paid for, call your insurance company, they will call the other guy's, HIS insurance (property damage) coverage should pay for your car to be fixed/declared totaled.

Yes, your rates will probably go up. They will definitely go up when you get a nicer car.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 11:19 AM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

General rule: the "no-fault" part of auto insurance only applies to bodily injury. PD is covered by first-party physical damage and third-party liability coverages.

Call your company. They shouldn't raise your rates for a not-at-fault accident. Indeed, most states' departments of insurance have rules prohibiting that sort of thing. But you are contractually obligated to report all losses to your insurance company as a condition of the contract, even if they never wind up paying anything out.

If this were another situation I'd suggest that you lawyer up. But we're probably talking about a situation that's really only going to get you a grand or two at best. May not be worth the hassle and ultimate expense of getting a lawyer in that case. So call the other insurance company and make a claim. They'll probably do an investigation and offer total out your car for you. You can probably get them to pay for a rental in the mean time.
posted by valkyryn at 11:20 AM on April 24, 2014

Call your insurance company. Dealing with this sort of situation is what you pay them for. If nothing else, they will be able to provide advice before you file a claim.
posted by pmdboi at 11:30 AM on April 24, 2014

Also for a bit of CYA go to the police station and file an accident report.
posted by Gungho at 11:48 AM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you were not at fault, your rates will not go up. The last time I went through this, my insurance processed the claim then tried to recoup their costs through subrogation. And at the renewal date, my premiums went down (even after the subrogation failed).

However, you wouldn't be able to have insurance pay for a rental car for a month just because that's when you're getting your new car. The best you'd be able to get would be to have a rental while your car is being repaired. But since it sounds like your car won't be repaired, and will be totaled, you'll just get a check for whatever the car is worth.
posted by hwyengr at 12:11 PM on April 24, 2014

In Minnesota, NAFs CAN make your rates go up. I don't think this is the case in California and some other states, but I just verified that you can lose "good driver" discounts in MN as a result of a NAF.

I work in car insurance. I've work on MN car insurance specifically in the past few years. This law has not changed.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 1:00 PM on April 24, 2014

Call your insurance company and give them what information you have. Then call the police and ask to make an accident report on the phone, that will give you the police report.

Your insurance may cover you for rental car, if not, they may have a negotiated rate with a particular vendor that they can refer you to. State Farm uses Enterprise and you can get rentals for about $12 per day under 'shop rates'. Worth a try.

Who knows what the other guy has, your insurance will call his and find out for you. Let them walk you through the process.

You're entitled to whatever the blue book value of your beater was, so go to and look it up. You may get a few bucks out of it.

It sounds like you did a good job documenting things, getting witnesses, etc.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:08 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pay attention only to those who know something about Minnesota law. In my state, the no-fault laws do relate to vehicle damage. You have to look to your own carrier for payment, if you have selected that coverage.

This varies widely from state to state.
posted by yclipse at 6:19 PM on April 24, 2014

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