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FAQs: Car Accident Insurance

FAQs: Car Accident Insurance

In this article, we’ll break down:

Car accidents are scary enough. Even if your injuries are minor or you walk away unscathed, they can leave you emotionally shaken. But what follows can be just as scary: navigating the car insurance claim process. Or, figuring out what to do if the at-fault driver was driving without car insurance.

For those of us who aren’t insurance brokers, car accident insurance and the process of covering your damages after a collision can present a ton of questions for everyone involved.

We’ve worked with a long list of car accident insurance cases over the years, from severe accidents leaving drivers with life-altering injuries to fender benders causing vehicle damage. No matter the case, the same insurance questions always seem to surface.

So, we’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked car accident insurance questions we receive to help you as you fight for the damages you’re owed to make you whole again.

Top 10 Car Accident Insurance FAQs

Q. Can Someone Sue You for a Car Accident if You Have Insurance?

Yes. In Florida, the victim of a car accident files a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash, not against the at-fault party’s insurance company. In fact, a jury isn’t allowed to be told that the at-fault driver has insurance. This includes accidents in which the victim was personally injured or if their car or other personal property was damaged.

Additionally, if the at-fault driver does not own the car they were driving in at the time of the accident, the victim can also file a lawsuit against the owner of the car, regardless if the owner wasn’t driving, or occupying, the car at the time.

Read More: Car Accident Insurance Claims

Q. How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to the Insurance Company?

Insurance policies are contracts and most say you must notify the company of a claim in a timely manner. Don’t give the insurance company a reason to say you breached the contract but not complying with its terms of timely reporting a claim.

Also, with regard to PIP benefits, under Florida Statute 627.736 (6)(e), “Notice to an insurer of the existence of a claim may not be unreasonably withheld by an insured.”

There are other dates to be aware of as well if you plan to seek any damages as a result of the accident. First, a police report must be filed. Per Florida Statute 316.066, Florida law requires that a police report be filed within 10 days of all car accidents that:

  • Resulted in death or personal injury
  • Involved property damage
  • Involved a commercial vehicle
  • Rendered a car inoperable

Timely filing of a police report is important as you speak with your insurance company about the damage. The police report proves that the accident occurred and documents the specifics of the damage which the insurance company will need for a settlement.

Be aware, however, that for severe injuries that will result in expensive medical bills or lost wages, the insurance company may try to offer you a settlement that doesn’t provide you with the damages you need. If you’re involved in a car accident in Florida, it’s best to call a Florida personal injury lawyer immediately following the filing of the police report and once you speak to your insurance provider.

Watch: What Does Your Insurance Company Have to Do Once You Tell Them You Were In a Car Accident?

Q. How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on Your Insurance Record?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires that most car accidents stay on your driving record for three to five years. Florida has one of the most severe policies when it comes to driving record violations in the county. For instance, an alcohol-related accident will stay on your record for 75 years – which essentially means it’s never coming off.

Q. Does Health Insurance Cover Car Accidents?

It depends. If you were injured in a car accident, the first place you should go for coverage for personal injury expenses is your PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, policy (note: in order to receive your PIP benefits, you must seek medical care within 14 days of your accident). All Florida drivers are required to purchase PIP insurance along with their auto insurance. PIP usually covers about $10,000 worth of damages.

If your car accident injuries are so severe that your medical expenses surpass $10,000, you can file a claim with your health insurance company. Every insurance company is different, but most want victims to use their full PIP coverage benefits before filing a health insurance claim.

Q. What Happens if You Get into a Car Accident Without Insurance?

Drivers in Florida are required to maintain a car insurance policy. If you’re in a car accident and you’re not insured, then the first penalty you’re going to face may be a suspension of your driver’s license. Then, you’ll be hit with a fee of between $150-$500 to reinstate your license.

Beyond the penalty, you may also be on the hook for your out-of-pocket expenses and potentially the driver’s damages which could range from medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. You may also face high premiums when you do go to purchase insurance.

Q. When Does Car Insurance Go Down After an Accident?

Most insurance companies will drop your rates between three to five years after a car accident. The rate drop may be dependent on the severity of the accident. Also, some insurers offer a discount for a safe driving record, and that discount may be removed after a car accident.

Your rates may not go down, however, if you have additional accidents and don’t have a clean driving record.

Q. How Long Does It Take for Insurance to Pay Out for a Car Accident?

The time it takes for an insurance company to pay a car accident claim will differ by company and the severity of the accident. The time it takes for your medical treatments to take place, including any surgery, can also impact the timing.

You can help expedite your claim process by providing your insurance company with all the necessary information as quickly as possible. Some insurance representatives may provide an approximate timeline for resolving your claim, but those can be highly unreliable.

Watch: Why is It So Difficult to Get a Car Accident Settlement From a Car Insurance Company?

Q. Does Car Insurance Cover Non-Accident Repairs?

It depends on the type of insurance you have. There are two primary types of car insurance in Florida: collision insurance and comprehensive insurance.

Collision insurance covers damage to your car after a car accident. Most collision insurance policies cover collisions with other vehicles and foreign objects.

Comprehensive insurance covers non-accident-related damages. This is the type of insurance you’ll need for damage to your car from vandalism, natural disasters, fallen objects, fallen trees and hail, fire, and other major incidents where you are not at fault.

Q.  Can I Get Car Insurance After an Accident?

Clearly, if you’re in a car accident and are uninsured, you won’t be able to purchase car insurance that works retroactively to cover your current collision. As far as getting insurance for future issues, you should be able to get, at a minimum, a PIP policy.

Be aware that if you caused the car accident and you don’t have car insurance, the other driver or his or her insurance company can—and will likely—file a lawsuit against you to recover the damages they would have otherwise received from your insurance company. If this is the situation you find yourself in, call an expert civil trial lawyer to defend you in such a lawsuit.

Q. How Do I Negotiate a Better Car Insurance Settlement After a Car Accident?

As you can imagine, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to minimize the amount it pays out in damages after your accident. To negotiate effectively, you need detailed records and evidence, including all of your medical records and bills. Document as much of the accident as possible, including photos, witness statements, accident reports, and your own statement. When you seek medical attention be sure to tell your medical provider what happened to you and make sure you are honest. Honest about your injuries and honest about any prior accidents or injuries. Don’t give the insurance company to a reason to deny your claim or question your honesty.

Also, do the math (see our sample car accident settlement valuation form) and determine what settlement value you need to cover every damage you incur as a direct result of the accident. Remember that your medical expenses are only one factor. If your injuries were severe and you expect future medical bills, include those in your calculation. Also, account for your emotional pain and suffering as well as any lost wages. Knowing the value of the damages going into the claim process will give you facts to put forth to the insurance company should their settlement amount come in low.

If after presenting your documented evidence you’re still not receiving the damages you deserve, a car accident lawyer experienced in negotiating car accident injury claims with insurance companies is your sharpest weapon. They’ll advocate on your behalf to get you the damages you need to make you whole again.

READ: How to Settle Your Personal Injury Case Without a Lawyer

Do You Have More Questions About Car Insurance?

If you have more questions, we would suggest speaking with a car accident lawyer who has spent 38 years evaluating accident facts, applying the law, and effectively asking juries to render a favorable verdict. You can call Alan Sackrin now at 945-458-8655.