That dreaded moment when you have been in an auto accident can be extremely stressful and harrowing. Your first thought is to check on your loved ones and the people in the other vehicle, to make sure everybody is safe and there are no immediate injuries that need tending to. Once that part is situated, the next steps are to call the police to get a police report created and to contact your automobile insurance company for assistance in making a claim for any needed car repairs.
The fear of saying the wrong thing to your auto insurance company can be overwhelming at that time, especially when faced with pending financial damages not just for your vehicle but possibly for the other vehicle or vehicles in the accident. You also might be worried about any property damage caused by the accident and any physical injuries to those involved in the accident on either side. That’s where we step in. Here at Warren Allen, we can help guide you with just the right things to say to your auto insurance company and in knowing what questions are best to ask before filing that auto insurance claim.
- What Is Covered Under My Insurance Plan?
The first question you want to ask your insurance company is what is actually covered under the automobile insurance you pay for. Auto insurance coverage varies per policy, as the more you have coverage for, typically, the higher the cost of the coverage. Each state has specific minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage when driving in that state. These requirements vary depending on where you insure your vehicle. For example, in Oregon, the Oregon DMV website states the automobile insurance requirements as follows:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability
o $25,000 per person injured, $50,000 per accident for all involved injured persons
o $20,000 per accident for property damage caused by the accident
- Personal injury protection
o $15,000 per person
- Uninsured motorist
o $25,000 per person
o $50,000 per accident for those involved injured persons
Notice, that there are three categories: liability, personal injury protection, and uninsured motorist coverage. Oregon doesn’t require collision coverage, which covers the cost of repairs to your own vehicle in case you cause an accident that damages your own vehicle.
Liability covers the cost of repairs to other people’s cars or property damage caused by an accident you caused. It also covers medical bills for those involved in the accident, including any passengers in the vehicles while the accident occurred or any pedestrians injured during the accident. The cost of damages or injuries is covered up to the amount of liability coverage you paid for.
If you have given permission to someone to drive your vehicle, including family members, and they get into an accident, liability coverage will cover those damages. It will also cover an accident that happens while driving a rental vehicle. Liability coverage does not cover the damage to your own vehicle or any personal injuries caused to yourself during the accident.
Personal injury protection
Personal injury protection will cover the cost of medical expenses caused to you or your passengers inside your vehicle when the accident occurs.
Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in when you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have any insurance coverage or if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident caused by another vehicle.
- Will My Premium Increase?
A great question to ask your auto insurance company before reporting a claim is whether reporting the accident will cause your insurance rates to increase. Sometimes, it may be cheaper to fix your car without going through insurance if the damages are less than the cost of your deductible or if the accident will cause your premiums to increase significantly.
Of course, if you’re involved in an auto accident with another vehicle and you’re at fault, there is no way around letting your insurance company know since the other party will probably file a claim with them as well. Also, if the repairs are extensive and costly and/or you need to pay for a rental vehicle while the repairs are being completed, the final cost could be worth filing the claim, despite a modest increase in premiums.
Typically, if you’re fully at fault or partially at fault for the accident, your premiums are at risk of increasing, but it’s not a guarantee, so ask your auto insurance company before filing that claim so you know what to expect on your next auto insurance renewal.
- Does My Insurance Policy Cover a Rental Vehicle?
When setting up your car repairs at an auto body shop, you may wonder how you will get around town and drive to work while the repairs are being completed. Leasing a rental vehicle can get expensive, especially when the repairs take a while to complete. It’s always a good idea to check with your auto insurance company to see if they cover the cost of renting a vehicle during the repair process.
You may also want to ask about insurance coverage for the rental vehicle in case there are any accidents that occur while driving the rental vehicle. Oftentimes, a car rental dealership will offer insurance coverage for a daily fee, but that may not be necessary if your rental vehicle is covered under your current auto insurance policy. It’s worthwhile to check.
- Will My Car Be Totaled?
Depending on the car’s current market value and the cost of any repairs that may need to be completed after an auto accident, your insurance company may decide to total the vehicle instead of paying to repair the vehicle. Most states have a specific formula that insurance companies use to determine whether a car is a total loss.
If your car is deemed a total loss, then your insurance company will provide you with a lump sum of money to cover the market value of the vehicle but not the repairs. You can choose at that point to repair the vehicle yourself or to use the settlement to purchase a new vehicle.
- How Much Is My Out-of-Pocket Cost for Repairs?
Before deciding to file an insurance claim, consider how much the cost for repairs will be, and if it’s less than what the insurance company will leave you paying after filing a claim, it may be best to just not file and pay for the repairs yourself. This can save potential insurance premium increases.
If you were in an auto accident and have questions about the next steps or need help with your insurance company claim, contact Warren Allen. Our team is here to help you when you need it most.