Do I make a property damage claim through my own insurance or with the at fault party?
The best method for fixing your car depends on how your accident occurred. After the accident you will have to choose between making a claim through the at fault party’s insurance or, if you have collision coverage on your own policy, making a claim through your own insurance carrier.
If the fault of the other party is obvious (i.e. the other party rear-ended you), then you should always make the property damage claim through the at fault party’s insurance (also called third-party insurance). This process should play out pretty quickly.
If the fault for the accident is something that is not immediately known (i.e. collision at an intersection with four stop signs, which party failed to yield not immediately ascertained) then you may be best off filing a claim through your own insurance while the liability of each party is figured out. This is the best way to have your vehicle needs addressed as soon as possible. The bad news is that you will be responsible for paying the property damage deductible of your policy. The good news is that your insurance company will reimburse you for this expense if liability is later accepted by the other insurance carrier through a process called subrogation. It can take 6 months to a year for insurance companies to process these payments. Many of my former clients have received property damage deductible reimbursement checks months after their bodily injury claim has resolved.
Insurance companies act on behalf of their insured in accepting or denying the fault of their insured. Before an insurance company will accept liability (or responsibility to pay for) the damages in an accident, they must complete their own investigation as to who was at fault.
Insurance adjusters are required by their own internal procedures to obtain a recorded statement from their insured, other parties, and witnesses to figure out exactly how the accident occurred.
I have had many clients that did not carry property damage protection under their own insurance policy who ask why it is taking so long for the other party to accept responsibility for an accident clearly someone else's fault. The answer to this usually lies in the adjuster's ability to obtain a recorded statement from their insured. Insurance companies sometimes deal with difficult clients who refuse to answer any of their questions. This can delay issuing property damage payments for several weeks. While there is not a set deadline for them to make their decision, they have a duty to investigate all claims within a reasonable period of time. If the investigation is still going on two weeks after the accident, talk to an attorney to help expedite the process.
If you are still not sure what to do, call The Gerring Law Firm at (314)-222-0066 to talk to an attorney right now for free. After hearing the details of your accident, we will be able to tell you what insurance company you should make your property damage claim through.