Conventional wisdom states that the at-fault driver pays for the damage to both cars in an accident. But if you were not at fault for the car accident, you have three options to pay for your damages:
- File a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance;
- Use your own policy’s collision coverage; or
- Pay out of pocket and file for reimbursement with either insurance
Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages. A car accident attorney can review your case and help you determine the best way to ensure you get the most compensation in the shortest possible time.
For a free consultation, contact the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine at 800-747-3733.
Filing a Claim With the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance
If the other driver was at fault, their insurance should pay for the damage to your vehicle. In some states, the at-fault driver’s insurance also pays for your injury claim. But other states — Florida among them — are “no-fault” states, meaning each driver’s insurance covers bodily injury regardless of fault. For this reason, Florida requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
There are a few advantages to filing with the other driver’s insurance. Perhaps the biggest is that you do not have to pay a deductible. Another benefit is that you will not have to worry about your premiums rising, a frequent consequence of filing a claim with your insurance company (even when you were not at fault in an accident).
However, there are a couple of drawbacks, too. One is that compared to working with your own insurance company, it can take longer to get your money. Remember, the other driver is the customer, not you, so the insurance company might not be in a hurry to take care of you.
Also, if the other driver disputes fault, the insurance company might open an investigation into the crash, which can make the process take even longer, not to mention put your compensation at risk if the insurance company sides with the other driver.
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Use Your Own Policy’s Collision Coverage
It is possible to use your insurance to cover the damage to your vehicle. If you have collision coverage, it pays for the damage to your car regardless of who was at fault in an accident. It comes in handy even if you were not at fault, especially if the other driver lacks insurance, or their policy limits are insufficient to cover your entire repair bill.
But remember that you will have to pay a deductible if you use your collision coverage. Most car insurance deductibles range from $500 to $1,000, but yours could be lower or higher depending on your policy.
Pay Out of Pocket and File for Reimbursement
The third option is to pay for your repairs out-of-pocket and then submit the bill either to the other driver’s insurance company or your own for reimbursement.
The benefit to doing it this way is that you do not have to wait for your claim to make its way through an insurance company’s labyrinth of red tape. You can get the repairs done and your car back in working order as quickly as possible. If you have the money to pay out of pocket, do not mind dipping into your bank account, and just want your vehicle repaired with no delay, this is an option to consider.
That said, there is a considerable risk to paying for your repairs and not waiting for the insurance company. The insurance company might claim that you overpaid for repairs and only reimburse you for what it thinks the damage should have cost.
Also, if the other driver contests that they were at fault or disputes the cost of your repairs, the process could drag on for a long time, and, depending on the outcome of the dispute, you might receive less money than you paid or none at all.
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