Conflicting advice about what to do after being rear-ended
December 4, 2017 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I was rear-ended last night on the highway. I am reading conflicting things about telling my insurance, the other party's insurance, or both.

In searching through Metafilter I've found that other Mefites have filed a claim with the at-fault party's insurance only, which I've never heard of before. As of now I've reported the accident to my own insurance. My own insurance card says not to speak to the other party's insurance at all, and I am inclined to follow that advice. The police said they wouldn't come out before we called our insurance companies, and we didn't do that at the scene, so there is no report.

I also initially suggested to the other party that we settle outside of insurance, but they kept insisting they had no more than scratched my bumper and wouldn't offer more than a trivial amount, so I decided not to go that route, especially since I noticed that the bumper actually became misaligned in the collision and I have read that bumper covers can conceal a lot of damage underneath, and that the metal frame may have been knocked out of alignment too. Is there any way that my initial suggestion is going to cause trouble?

Finally, I have never been rear-ended before and am worried that whiplash may set in. It was difficult to tell what speed the other party was going at when they hit me, but I was at a stop because the car in front of me had stopped abruptly. I'm having back pain but not sure if I can distinguish it from run-of-the-mill aches and pains. I'm particularly freaked out because I am just a few weeks out of a mild concussion that sidelined me for a week and a half, and am worried about my ongoing recovery.
posted by ziggly to Law & Government (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In a rear-end collision, always tell your insurance company, especially with your medical concerns. You've got to protect yourself. Do it now and let your insurance company sort it out.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:12 AM on December 4, 2017 [14 favorites]

As of now I've reported the accident to my own insurance. My own insurance card says not to speak to the other party's insurance at all, and I am inclined to follow that advice.

You've already done the right thing.

Is there any way that my initial suggestion is going to cause trouble?


I'm particularly freaked out

You haven't actually asked a question on the medical issue. Get medical attention urgently. Report everything to your insurance agent. They'll handle it. Unless you believe your agent is not taking care of things, that's all you have to do.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:13 AM on December 4, 2017

One of the reasons you have insurance is to protect you when things which seemed simple at first turn out to be more complicated. Let your insurance pursue the other party, and immediately consult a doctor about your aches and pains. You have paid in advance for all this attention.
posted by ubiquity at 8:24 AM on December 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

Advice can differ because state auto insurance rules differ.
posted by soelo at 8:26 AM on December 4, 2017

You're good. This is why you pay your insurance company. Let them handle everything, keep records of any medical visits you make, and don't talk to the other company. I've had an unusual number of accidents in which I was 100% not at fault (parked, legally stopped at a light, etc...) and my insurance rates have never gone up due to these incidents, and my insurance company has always handled everything.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:28 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

The police said they wouldn't come out before we called our insurance companies,

That is totally insane; I would be filing complaints with the police, perhaps escalating depending on what they say. It's great this accident didn't cause obvious massive damage to your person or property, but the cops should absofuckinglutely come out to help with any auto accident, that is their job. Whether or not you had the ability or time to call your insurance is immaterial to needing police assistance in a potentially deadly situation.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:02 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

So I was rear-ended in the fall and initially filed with the other driver's insurance. That was a nightmare, and I ended up filing with my insurance after all. (Bumpers may look like "just a scratch" but will end up costing thousands to repair, as I learned). I wish I had just gone with my insurance from the beginning. So you've made the right decision. Let your insurance handle it. (And you should be able to call a police non-emergency line and report the accident; I didn't, but if injury comes into play I think it's much more imortant to have a record of the accident--try to pinpoint time and exact location as best you can).
posted by TwoStride at 9:20 AM on December 4, 2017

One further note [and this may be a varies-by-state thing.] If you have liability only coverage on your vehicle, at least in the state of IL, your insurance company will not assist you with filing a property damage claim against the at-fault party's insurance. If you have collision coverage as well through your insurance company, your ins. co will typically cover the cost of repairs and then attempt to collect from the at-fault party's insurance co. Personal injury is probably a totally different story, and I don't know about that.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 9:24 AM on December 4, 2017

the cops should absofuckinglutely come out to help with any auto accident, that is their job.

As I've learned by moving and living in different areas, this absolutely isn't universal and they may be well within their mandates from states and municipalities. In many cities, the police will not come to the scene if there are no apparent injuries. If you call to report, they will say that you need to come to the precinct to fill out a report, and most drivers don't want to take the time to do that. So there's not necessarily any recourse to the police here.

Call and report this to your insurance.
Let them get in touch with Other Person's insurance.
Other Person can get in touch with their own insurance.
Other Person's Insurance will contact you directly if they need a report from you.
Get your claim rep's name and direct line at your insurance and keep them posted on everything that happens.
They'll tell you what to do.

You should definitely put a claim through on this. Fender-benders, especially rear end ones, can do a lot more damage than what's visible from outside the car.
posted by Miko at 9:26 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

On the police thing: if your insurance company needs you to file a police report as part of the accident claim (in order to assign fault to the other driver, possibly a prerequisite so they can subrogate the other driver's insurance company) they'll let you know. Otherwise in some states the police department really doesn't want to be in the business of determining who's at fault (because in complicated accidents it means a city/state resource is tied up in court testifying) and the insurance companies will probably just calculate fault on their own. IANAL, TINLA, I've just been rear ended multiple times and had to jump through these hoops.
posted by fedward at 10:06 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Your insurance company is the go-between with the other insurance company. It's what you pay them to do. They will determine fault and arrange for assessment and repair of your car, and tell you where to get a loaner, if needed. Do Not accept a pay off from the other guy. If they don't have insurance, that will fall to them to figure out. Don't make their problem your problem. If you think you have injuries, no matter how minor, go to the doctor Today. There's no harm in getting checked out just in case and then there's a record of you taking any potential injuries seriously.

You pay for your insurance. Now put those payments to use and let the insurance company do what they do - handle this. Good luck!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 11:19 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


My neck hurts and I feel dizzy, so I scheduled an appointment with my doctor for tomorrow, but will try to move it up to today.

The other insurance called and and left a voicemail. My insurance called, left a voicemail and said the other party's insurance accepted liability, and do I want to go through them and close my claim? Do I insist that my insurance handle it?
posted by ziggly at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2017

Update 2: I am planning to go through the other party's insurance and closing the claim with my insurance.
posted by ziggly at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2017

I wouldn't go through the other party's insurance. Particularly now that you're having some medical symptoms, you want someone definitely on your side. Your insurance company should serve as your advocate here, even if the other company is paying 100% of the costs. Everything may seem OK right now, but do you really want to deal with getting the other insurance company to pay all of your medical costs? This is where your insurance company earns the premiums you've been paying them.
posted by Betelgeuse at 1:22 PM on December 4, 2017

Other Person's insurance will always try to low-ball you. Their job is to protect themselves and their insured. I agree with those who say to go through yours.
posted by Miko at 2:20 PM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding Betelgeuse and Miko. The other insurance company will try to rush you into a settlement based on their first offer. You still need to get your medical examination. The other insurance company will try to get you to sign a release before your medical condition is known, and will try to get you to waive additional medical issues that may come up in the future.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:52 PM on December 4, 2017

This information varies based on your individual insurance policy and the state laws where you reside, so YMMV:

Check your insurance to see if you have something called Med-Pay. It pays your medical bills if you need medical treatment. In some states, you have to specifically sign a separate document declining the coverage, so don’t assume that you don’t have it (it may be included in your comprehensive or collision coverage). If you have it...use it! You’ve already paid for it, and (also in most states...your state may vary) they cannot raise your premiums for using it.

Then, BEFORE you settle your claim with the at fault insurance, you need to ask for pain and suffering separate from the property damage claim (sometimes it’s a separate adjuster and they handle it separately). Pain and suffering covers your medical bills plus a payment for pain and suffering. That means you can submit your medical bills to the at fault insurance and get reimbursed for them, but in a lot of cases you DO NOT have to surrogate or give that payment back to your own insurance company, so it becomes money in your pocket.

Bottom not agree to the first offer they give you, read everything, and ask your insurance about Med Pay and whether or not they surrogate plain and suffering payments from the other insurance. (Anecdote: In Arkansas, it’s typical to get 2x the amount of your medical bills as your pain and suffering payment. That can become a sizable sum, but sometimes the insurance drags out sending that payment so be prepared to wait it out. A lawyer doesn’t make it move faster but does automatically take a portion of your settlement money, so don’t jump to get a lawyer too soon).
posted by MultiFaceted at 4:00 PM on December 4, 2017

This really depends on where you live, I'm assuming, but the few times that I've been rear-ended, the other party's insurance offered me 500 dollars upfront for the medical expenses. Don't accept that right away, because it can absolve them of responsibility for future medical claims.
posted by lilies.lilies at 4:21 PM on December 4, 2017

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