You’ve been in a car accident – I’m sorry to hear it. Hopefully you’re able to get back on your feet quickly.
If you’ve been in a wreck and it was another driver’s fault, their insurance should be the one to pay for your damages and injuries. However, sometimes it makes sense to use your own insurance policy first (and let the other driver’s insurance company pay you back later).
Using Your Own Insurance First Is Faster
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters sometimes have an incentive to slow down the speed at which your claim is resolved. Insurance companies benefit when they pay out less in claims – it means they get to keep more money for themselves.
For this reason, adjusters are always on the lookout for reasons to devalue or deny your claim. That’s not inherently wrong – many times, they’re able to find real reasons that you claim isn’t worth as much as you think.
However, the problem comes when adjusters purposely do things to devalue your claim. One tactic I’ve seen again and again is when adjusters drag their feet. Your adjuster might ignore your calls or take forever on paperwork on purpose because they know it’s going to put you in a tough spot – you need to get your car fixed and your medical bills are piling up, but you can’t do anything until they write you a check.
The adjuster knows the slower they go, the more pressure you’ll feel, and the more pressure you feel, the more likely you are to accept a low settlement. If they take long enough, you’ll be eager to take whatever they offer you.
Using your own car insurance first removes this problem. You will have to pay a deductible, but your insurance company will go back against the other party’s insurance and you will get your deductible back at that time (usually three or four months later).
You Can Get a Rental Car Easier
I’ve written extensively on why it’s difficult to get a rental car after an accident and what you can do about it. You’ll find that article here.
After someone has been in an accident and learns that their car needs to be repaired, the immediate reaction is to figure out a way of getting a car rental while their vehicle is being fixed. Drivers expect for the insurance company of the at-fault driver to cover the costs of renting a car, because it is considered to be the right thing to do; their insured driver hit your vehicle, which means they are obviously going to pay for the expenses of your vehicle, right? Think again. In short, it can be very difficult to get the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your rental car. If you have rental car coverage on your own policy, I tell my clients to use it. It’s often much faster and easier than fighting the at-fault driver’s insurance company for that benefit upfront.
If you do use your own insurance to get a rental car, you can seek reimbursement for it later.
When There’s a Dispute Concerning the Wreck
Unfortunately, not all car accidents are cut and dry. Usually one driver thinks the other is at-fault and vice versa. When there’s a dispute on who caused the accident – especially if there were big damages and injuries – it can take a long time to resolve.
If you can’t be without a car for a long time or if you have mounting medical bills to pay, I’d advise you to use your own insurance.
I’ve written more on why it’s a good idea to use your own health insurance after an accident, even if the wreck was someone else’s fault. You can find that article here.
If you’ve been in a wreck that’s left you with thousands of dollars in repairs and medical bills, it could be worth consulting with an attorney. This is especially true if there’s a dispute over who caused the accident.
A personal injury lawyer’s job is to build your case and deal with the insurance companies for you so you don’t have to worry about gathering evidence, which insurance to use and so on.
Even though drivers who have been involved in car accidents may have wanted for the process to fly by and for the situation to be over with, the reality for many drivers is that a car wreck, especially one involving multiple parties, can take a bit longer than expected. This is good news for the insurance company, who can take more time investigating the accident and figuring out different ways they can challenge what would otherwise be a large settlement amount. On the other hand, this can be bad news for a person that has taken time off to treat for their injuries; depending on the job the person may be working in, the time taken for medical attention can lead to a loss of wages. For this reason it would be understandable for an injured victim of a car accident to use their own insurance while the personal injury process is completed.
Is Hiring a Lawyer Right for You?
Not everyone needs a lawyer. I often tell people that if they could afforod to pay for their damages and injuries out-of-pocket if they had to, then they can also likely manage their claim alone.
However, if you have big damages to your car and serious personal injuries, you should most certainly consult with an attorney. The first meeting should be free.