One of the most frequent questions I get asked is: Which insurance company should I go through to handle my property damage after an accident? My own company or the insurance company for the person who hit me?
I’m a Louisiana auto injury attorney here to explain.
The short answer is there are pros and cons to each decision.
I am going to give you my unbiased opinion, and some true war stories, so you can decide which carrier to go through to have your property damage repaired after your Louisiana auto accident.
If you were in an accident that you caused, the only option is to go through your own carrier, and to have your property damage repaired under your collision coverage. Don’t have collision coverage on your auto insurance policy? That’s a BIG problem as you will likely be out of luck and have to repair your property damage to your vehicle out of your own pocket.
So, you were in an auto accident that you did not cause and/or you were in an auto accident that was only partially your fault…you may be wondering which insurance company you should go through to have your property damage repaired? If you have an attorney, they should be helping you with this. In fact, we handle all of our client’s property damage and diminished value claims at no charge. If your attorney is not helping you through this, ask them to do so. Your attorney should be worried about all aspects of your auto claim, not just your personal injuries.
THE PROS AND CONS OF GOING THROUGH YOUR OWN CARRIER:
Summary: It’s usually faster than going through the other person’s carrier. However, it can be more expensive and costly to you. Other than likely having to pay your deductible first, you cannot make a diminished value claim and you may be shorted on the rental.
Which insurance company should I go through to get it done fast? The answer is typically your carrier as your carrier will likely conduct a faster investigation because they owe a legal duty to you. They must act timely, otherwise they can be penalized.
If your concern is getting your vehicle repaired immediately, regardless of whether you have to come out of pocket initially, this is the way to go. While it’s usually faster to go through your own auto insurance company after an accident to have your property damage repaired, you will likely have to come up with your $500 or $1,000 deductible first.
If you were not at fault and you have been a customer with your auto insurance company for a long time, you can ask your company to waive your deductible. If the accident is disputed, they will likely not be willing to waive your deductible.
If the accident was clearly not your fault, your insurance company may waive your deductible and repair your vehicle without you paying your deductible first. Whether they will waive your deductible usually depends on the policies of the specific insurance company, and they tend to do it for longtime customers. The reason they would waive your deductible is because your insurance company will ultimately get your deductible back from the insurance company of the person who hit you. So, if the accident was not your fault, it never hurts to ask your company to waive your deductible but don’t bank on this.
If your insurance company will not waive your deductible, you can pay it, and then your property damage will be repaired. Once your property damage repair is complete and the total amount of damages are paid by your insurance company, your insurance company will then file a subrogation claim against the insurance company for the driver who hit you. They will seek the amount of the property damage repairs and your deductible. Once paid, your insurance company will refund your deductible directly back to you.
Which insurance company should I go through if I want to make a diminished value claim? Other than likely having to pay your own deductible first, you cannot make a diminished value claim if you go through your own carrier. This is probably the biggest downside to going through your own carrier. Not everyone will have and/or want to make a diminished value claim, but if you do, you must go directly through the other person’s carrier.
Another big consideration here is the rental car. Most of our clients need a rental car to get to and from work while their car is being repaired. Each person’s policy has different rules and regulations pertaining to rental cars. So read your policy and/or ask your adjuster about the rental car provisions of your policy vs. the provisions of the at-fault person’s insurance policy. Which policy would be more beneficial to you?
Which insurance company should I go through if my car repairs will likely take longer than 30 days? The other person’s carrier.
Most insurance policies have a 30 day cap on rental cars if you are making the claim through your own carrier. If you make the claim through the other person’s carrier, there is no cap on rental time while your vehicle is being repaired. Usually I advise clients to go directly through the other person’s carrier when the damage to their vehicle are severe because they will likely be in need of the rental car longer and I don’t want them to run the risk of being on the hook initially for the extra rental days.
THE PROS AND CONS OF GOING THROUGH THE OTHER PERSON’S CARRIER:
Summary: Usually my preferred recommendation is to go through the other person’s carrier when the other person is at fault. You keep your record clean, you don’t have to come out of pocket for your deductible, and you can make a diminished value claim if necessary.
While the other carrier may take a little more time investigating initially, you don’t have to pay your deductible first. This is so assuming you were not at fault. If you were partially at fault, the other carrier will only pay the portion of responsibility of their insured.
Let’s take this example.
Your property damages are $10,000. You were 60% at fault and the other driver was 40% at fault. Their carrier will only pay $4,000 for your damages, and you will have to pay your deductible to get your carrier to cover the $6,000. Also, no chance of keeping this off your record. Because you were partially at fault, it will go on your record for assessment when policy renewal time comes.
If your property damages are not severe, and you have a little time to spare, make the claim through the other person’s carrier. You keep underwriting happy at your insurance company and avoid raising any red flags when it comes to renewal time. An insurance company should not raise your rates if the accident was not your fault. But if you have to many accidents, regardless of whether they were your fault or not, your premiums could increase. This is so because if you have too many claims in a short period of time, it is likely your insurance company will see you as a risky driver and be inclined to raise your premiums.
Of course, there may be downsides to going through the other person’s carrier. There are a few other considerations here, such as, what if the other insurance company is some kind of tiny, low-cost provider with a bad reputation? Or if my carrier has a superior parts usage policy? I’d be inclined to file through my own carrier in both of these circumstances, and then let my carrier subrogate.
OTHER NOTES ON PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIMS AND INSURANCE CARRIERS
Which insurance company should I go through? The deal is, most people feel as a matter of principle they should always go through the insurance company of the responsible party. I agree, in most circumstances, but it really depends on the specifics of each situation.
There are certain situations where you may be required to go through your own carrier.
Which insurance company should I go through when there is a multi-car collision? Usually your own carrier because each insurance company will be pointing the finger at the other insurance company. Further, there are situations when there is a multi-car collision, and even if one person is at-fault, the at-fault driver may not have enough insurance to cover everyone’s property damage. In this case you should file the claim through your own insurance company.
Which insurance company should I go through when the person who hit me does not have auto insurance? Unfortunately, you have to go through your own carrier in this circumstance and hopefully you have collision coverage.
A few other tid-bits:
- No matter which carrier you decide to go through, you get to choose the repair shop of your choice in Louisiana.
- You don’t necessarily have to use the money to repair the vehicle. You can get an estimate and take the money and do what you want with it. Be mindful though, sometimes estimates do not account for all damage (such as damage that cannot be seen until the vehicle is taken apart), in these circumstances, you shortchange yourself and may be in a pickle if you want to have the damage repaired down the road.
- For minor auto accidents without injury, you may want to consider not filing an insurance claim and paying out of pocket to have the damage repaired.
In answering the question of which insurance company should I go through, you must do what benefits you most given your situation, and seek legal counsel if necessary. This article is viewed from a property damage perspective only, and bodily injury claims are a whole other ballgame. At the Cardone Law Firm, we pride ourselves in providing total comprehensive counsel to auto accident victims. If you have a question about your property damage or your bodily injury claim, you can contact us at 504-522-3333.
We hope this answers your question of: Which insurance company should I go through? If not, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the pros and cons of making property damage claims either through your own insurance carrier, or through the insurance carrier of the person who hit you.
This article was written by attorney Hannah Salter. She charges no fee for handling property damage and diminished value claims, as this is work she provides for free when handling your bodily injury claim. She believes in total client care, and that an attorney should not only care about the bodily injury portion of your claim but rather your TOTAL claim. She realizes a client’s vehicle is important to them, and enjoys helping clients navigate through the frustrating process of filing a property damage claim following an auto accident.