When you own or drive a car, you have a responsibility to carry proof of insurance with you. This information is used when you are involved in a car accident, and it is used by all parties during the process of obtaining payment for covered accident expenses. When you have an accident, you turn to your insurance company for help obtaining compensation for damage claims.
Accidents are bound to happen, and many people get in one at some time during their driving career. Across the U.S. during 2013, there were an estimated 9,892,000 vehicles involved in traffic crashes reported by police, and 96% of those vehicles were passenger vehicles. Each year, there are about 10 million car accidents; your chance of being in one of these crashes is significant, no matter how careful you are. Another driver who is careless or negligent in their driving behavior may easily cause you major problems and expense when they run into your vehicle. Thousands more accidents occur when drivers hit objects or animals, or when they are harmed due to road hazards.
Vehicle owners must carry insurance on their vehicles, and drivers are required to carry proof of such insurance. Each state has its own requirements for car insurance and what to do when drivers are in accidents. Some stipulations include time limits for filing accident reports with the state DMV, what information must be reported and what consequences are levied for not following these regulations.
Insurance companies base rates for vehicle insurance on many factors, including the risk factors that apply to different people. For example, young male drivers are most likely to have car accidents, so their rates are higher. Other factors include the driver’s own history of accident claims, the geographic location and type of vehicle. Your insurance agent will create an individual quote for you based on a variety of factors that affect your risk probability.
There is some competition among insurance companies, so you may be able to negotiate or find lower rates if you search. Some companies are very exclusive about which people they will insure, but there are other options to consider if finding an insurance company is a problem. For example, in California, you have three options besides obtaining insurance from an insurance company. The objective is to provide financial responsibility. You can make a cash deposit with the California DMV of $35,000 to cover any future accident claims. You can contact the California DMV to get a self-insurance certificate, or you can obtain a surety bond for $35,000 from a licensed California issuer.
What Happens when there is a Car Accident?
Car accidents happen everywhere, on highways, city streets, boulevards, back roads and in parking lots. Many are caused because a driver was negligent and did not follow traffic laws, signage or made careless turns. Speeding, distractions and driving while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol are leading causes of vehicle accidents. Inexperienced drivers, older drivers and others may be unfamiliar with the roads they are on and what to expect from oncoming traffic. When reaction times are slowed due to lack of attention, physical problems or talking with others in the car, the chances of being involved in an accident are higher than normal
When there is an accident, the first thing those involved should do is check to see if anyone is injured or has died from accident injuries. Calling for help and reporting the accident to the proper authorities is the next step to make. Finally, insurance companies will want verification of the accident and a description of what happened. You submit an estimate from a repair company, the insurance company adjuster will also make their assessment of damages, and then you can proceed with repairs or finding another vehicle to drive.
Insurance Company Procedures
After you report the accident to your insurance company and submit a repair estimate or their adjuster has made a report, you will receive an offer of compensation if the claim is approved. If it is not approved, you need to get together with an experienced Car Accident Attorney to review the incident and again try to get payment from the insurance company with help from that attorney. Once the claim is approved, you can proceed with repairs. If the damage is significant, the adjuster may claim the car is totaled. In that case, you would only receive the fair value of the vehicle, which may not be enough to make repairs. You can pay the extra and get repairs or give up the vehicle and use the money towards purchase of another vehicle.
Usually this process is fairly quick. You may discover, however, that your insurance coverage rates go up after an accident. It depends on the particular circumstances of the accident and if you were at fault or not. If there are multiple parties in an accident the process may take more time, as people try to determine which party is liable for damages. If the accident was caused by a defective part, equipment failure or road hazards, it will take more time to fully examine the problem and find responsible parties. Assigning negligence in a case where a defective product caused a car accident is a long process, and may even become a situation where you would participate in a lengthy class action lawsuit.
Your Attorney Can Help
It is good to seek help from an experienced Car Accident Attorney immediately when you are in a car accident. They can fully investigate the accident particulars, determine fault and if negligent behavior is a cause of that accident. They know from experience what is needed to win a case and get you the fair compensation you deserve. Many have worked closely with insurance companies previously, and they understand that process and how to get action from reluctant insurance agencies.