housands of car accidents happen every day in the US, and the number is consistently increasing. The scary thing about car accidents is that they are ubiquitous and can happen to anyone. Even if you are a good and safe rider, you can still get into a road accident. It doesn't necessarily have to be your fault. You might be driving carefully, but some reckless drivers can still crash into your car.
In such cases, most people will choose to settle by themselves or consider paying for damages out of their pocket or from their insurance policy. But, most people are unaware that you can file a third-party insurance claim for the compensation. Let's learn about it in detail.
What Is A Third Party Insurance Claim?
A third-party insurance claim is when a third party makes an insurance claim to the insured (first-party) and insurance company (second-party). For instance, you met in an accident where the driver crashed into you. Now, you can claim the damage to the driver's insurance company which will cover the damage for you.
However, the insurance company will thoroughly inspect the accident to know who is at fault. If it is found that you were at fault, then the driver can claim to you and your insurance company.
How To Claim for Third-Party Insurance?
Gather Information Of The Driver
To file for third-party insurance, you will need the information about the other driver. You should gather all their essential information at the scene. You can obtain the driver's details from the driver or ask the responding police officer.
You will require the following details of the driver to claim the insurance:
- Name and phone number of driver
- Insurance policy number and name of the insurance company
- Details of the vehicles, including license plate number, make, and model.
- Photos of the accident scene and damage.
- Location of the accident and weather at the time of the accident.
- Name and contact number of the witness.
- Responding officers' contact number and badge number.
Also, you will need the police report to claim the insurance, so you should ask the responding officer for a copy of the police report.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Even if you are not at fault, it's always best to contact your insurance company about the accident and tell them in detail. Your insurance company can help you make a third-party claim with the driver's insurer on your behalf. Most people opt not to inform the insurance company about the accident as it may impact their insurance rates. However, your insurer is professional in these cases, so it's always a good idea to involve them. It'll make your claim process easier and quicker.
File A Third Party Insurance Claim
After getting all the information about the driver and informing the insurance company about the accident, you can file a third-party insurance claim. Usually, your insurance company can also file the claim on your behalf. But, the easiest way is to file the claim yourself. You can browse through the driver's insurance company's online portal or visit their office to file the claim. The company will assign you a claim adjuster and initiate the claim process through the inspection. However, the company must first verify if its customer is at fault before proceeding with the claim.
Work With The Claim Adjuster
Claim adjusters investigate the case to determine who is at fault during the accident. Prepare yourself to be interrogated as they will ask you several questions relating to the accident. You should tell them everything in detail and cooperate with them in their investigation. After the claim adjuster verifies that their customer is at fault, they will estimate the cost of the repairs or compensation required.
Receive Your Settlement
If the insurance company accepts your third-party insurance claim, they will issue a settlement offer that includes the total compensation amount they are willing to pay. If you are satisfied with the compensation amount, you can receive the payment and settle the claim. However, if you feel the settlement amount is meager, you can dispute the judgment or try to negotiate with them. Keep in mind that each company has its own claim process, and you may even start the process again.
Third-Party Insurance Claims In No-Fault State
Usually, the third party insurance claim works when one party is at fault and agrees to pay the compensation against the other. But, some states adopt no-fault insurance policies, and these claims are a bit different. The following states follow a no-fault car insurance system.
- New York
- North Dakota, and
In these states, the drivers file the claim with their respective insurance companies regardless of who is at fault. However, some states adopt the hybrid policy where you can claim the third party claim with the driver's company for the cost of the car's damage, but you need to file the claim for personal injuries with your own insurance company. These states require mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage which covers your bills after the accident.
When Should You Seek For Legal Representation?
Unfortunately, a third-party insurance claim is not as easy as it seems. It has a long and complicated process involving police reports, witness statements, photographs, and evidence. Sometimes you need to seek legal representation to solve the case and settle the compensation. But, taking to the court is a very long and complex process. You should also bear the legal fees when taking the case to court.
Thus, before seeking the legal representation, here are some ways to determine if it is worth taking the case to court:
If the driver's insurance company denies to pay you compensation
If the driver or the driver's insurance company is not cooperating to pay the compensation, even if they are at fault, you can sue them. You can hire a lawyer and take the case to court. You would need the police report, photos from the accident scene, and witnesses which prove that you weren't at fault.
If the driver's insurance companies offer a low settlement
You can consider legal action if the driver's insurance company offers you a low settlement that is not enough to cover your damages. But, before that, you need to make sure that you have tried negotiating with them. You can sue them after they are reluctant to negotiate.
If you were seriously injured or your family member was killed in the crash.
If the accident caused a severe injury or death, you should always consider seeking legal representation. These cases are very complex, and criminal charges can be filed. Thus, proper investigation is required, and legal involvement is needed.
If your injuries impact your quality of life
Sometimes, an accident can change your entire life. If the injuries impact your life, you should take the case to court. For instance, if you are an athlete but had a severe injury due to an accident and cannot play the sports anymore. This is a loss of quality of life, and you can also sue the driver for that.
If the at-fault driver does not have an insurance policy
There are high chances that the fault driver may not have an insurance policy. It is better to sue the driver to claim compensation in such cases. It is the last resort to claim compensation. However, you can sue the insured driver only if the case is severe and involves severe injury or death in most cases.
Road accidents happen every day, and your fault doesn't necessarily cause it. When you meet with an accident that another party causes, it is crucial to make a third insurance claim to compensate for all the damages. After that, the faulty driver's insurance company is responsible for paying for all your damages. However, it is crucial to consider various factors before making the third party claim and know when you should opt to sue the driver instead.