One question I have been asked so many times, is “Who’s insurance should I use to pay for my auto repair and injuries?” When someone is hurt in an accident, or even if they just have vehicle damage, and it’s the other driver’s fault, people have a tendency to want to go through the other driver’s insurance.
I believe this type of thinking has more to do with “principle” than actual knowledge of how insurance claims are handled. People tend to think that since it was the other guys fault, then the other guys insurance should be the one to pay. They are also afraid their rates might go up if they use their own insurance.
My recommendation is always to use your own auto insurance for the repairs, and for the medical bills. There a so many reasons for this that it’s hard to know where to start.
For one, you pay premiums to your own insurance company, and have an actual contract with them. Because of this they are required to act in your best interest, and act in good faith. The other insurance company does not have to act in your best interest, and because you have no contract with them, bad faith does not apply.
Customer service is also an issue. You insurance company recognizes you as a paying customer, and understands that a certain level of customer service is rightfully expected. The other insurance company sees you as a “third party claimant” who is making a run at them for money. Customer service isn’t an issue, because you are not a customer. If you call them up with an issue with your rental car, or a problem with the auto repair, your own insurance company is much more likely to attempt to help you out and make you happy.
One concern I have heard is that people know they will have to pay their collision deductible if they go through their own insurance company. This is true, but keep in mind you can call the at fault insurance company and ask them to pay the deductible. If their driver is at fault, and there is no dispute, all they need to do is verify your deductible with your insurance company and they can send you a check. They can even send it directly to the body shop if that’s what you would prefer.
You see, after your insurance company pays the body shop for the repair of your car, your insurance is going to send the bill to the other insurance company anyway. The other insurance will reimburse your insurance for the cost of the repair, so it makes no difference to them if they pay your deductible directly to you instead. You just need to make sure there is no liability dispute (disagreement about who was at fault), and that they are willing to do it (I have never heard of a case where they were not willing to do it.)
You could even ask the other insurance company before deciding who to use for repair. Call them up and say “I was going to go through my own insurance for repair, but I have a $500 deductible. Will you send me a check for $500?” This happens all the time. The adjuster is happy to do this because it is less work for him. Now he just has to sit back and wait for the bill to arrive from your insurance company.
When it comes to medical bills, it’s really not even a question. The other insurance company will not pay any of your medical bills directly. They will tell you that they will “review” your claim for medical bills after you have completed all of your treatment and are ready to discuss a “possible” settlement.
Some people hear this and read too much into it. If you listen to them carefully, you will notice that they are not agreeing to pay for anything. They are only agreeing to “review” your bills and records for “possible” settlement. It is very common for them to wait until you are completely done with treatment, and then tell you that they are denying your injury claim.
If you have Med Pay on your auto policy, you health care provider has a place where he or she can send the bills for actual payment. You insurance company will attempt to recover any payments made for your car accident treatment from the other insurance company down the road. We’ll get more into Med Pay in another post.
As an auto accident chiropractor in Sacramento, I can tell you that there are many other insurance issues that need explaining, and we’ll get to them in later posts.