If a person hits your vehicle and is found at fault for the accident, his insurance company may pay to repair your car, or pay you for your car's market value if the cost of repairs exceed a percentage of its value. If you were at fault for the accident, you must pay for vehicle repairs yourself.
The Driver Who Hit You
If the police report states you weren't at fault for the accident, the driver who hit you must pay for damages using the liability portion of her insurance company. Liability coverage pays for damages the insured causes to other people or property, meaning your vehicle and any injuries you sustain. Call the other driver's insurance company to initiate a claim. Obtain the driver's license and insurance information from your police report, which you may have to purchase.
If you were at fault for the accident and don't carry collision insurance coverage, expect to pay for damages yourself. To save money, make appointments for quotes at different body shops for repair estimates. Body shops rarely accept payment plans, but you can ask if any shops in your area might arrange one. Pursing a personal loan might prove another option. Your car may become a loss if its repair costs are close to its value, so you may benefit from replacing the car instead of repairing it.
Your Insurance Company
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you can submit a claim through your insurance company. Call your insurance company as soon as possible after your accident. Your insurance company can handle your claim and collect the car's repair or market value from the at-fault driver's insurance company. Because insurance companies work for the insured, you might experience less hassle by submitting a claim through your own insurance company and allowing it to collect payment for you, especially if the at-fault driver argues fault.
If the driver who hit you wasn't insured and doesn't pay you for damages, you'll have to pursue court action to collect payment. If the driver who hit you didn't have enough coverage to pay for damages to your vehicle, you'll also have to sue to obtain the rest of the funds. State liability laws differ on property damage requirements for registered drivers, but some require as little as $10,000. If the insured caused damages to other people and property, he may easily exhaust his insurance coverage and become liable for payment.
- Insure.com: Car Insurance Basics
- Edmunds How Much Car Insurance Do You Need?; Philip Reed; 2009
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Shanan Miller covers automotive and insurance topics for various websites, blogs and dealerships. She has extensive automotive experience, including auction, insurance, finance, service and management positions. Miller has worked for dealer sales events around the United States and now stays local as a sales and leasing consultant for a dealership.