Car insurance surprise: Want your car back fast? Pay up

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If the other driver's car insurance company won't play ball, you may have to pay up to get your car back fastThe Friday evening before I headed to the Financial Blogger Conference, I was in a car accident. A college student making a left hand turn out of a parking lot hit my car. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

It’s been more than 12 years since my last car accident, and that happened while I was still on my parents’ car insurance; this is the first time I’ve had to deal with a car accident on my own car insurance policy.

In addition to being surprised by just how slow-moving the process was, I was also confronted with an interesting dilemma: Should I pay to get my car back faster?

Paying when you’re not at fault

If you are hit by someone who is not covered by car insurance (happened to me as a teenager), your insurance company will pick up the tab if your policy covers it. It usually means increased premiums for you, and you have to pay a deductible. What I found out through this experience is that you might end up in the same situation even if the other driver is covered by insurance.

While I wasn’t happy to have my pretty Subaru damaged, I looked for the silver lining. The car would be in the shop for two weeks, but for one week of that I wouldn’t even need the car because I’d be in St. Louis. But I had critically overestimated how well the system would work. (In fact, repairs still haven’t been started on my car and the accident occurred two weeks ago as of this writing.)

First of all, before the other car insurance company would make a determination about liability, a statement was needed from both of us. The police report contained these statements. The other driver was issued a citation. But until we each spoke on the phone with the other insurance company, the other company wouldn’t take responsibility. I answered calls quickly, stepping away from a few important conversations at FinCon to do just that. The other driver, however, didn’t give her statement until more than a week after the incident.

What were my options at that point? My insurer explained that if I wanted to speed up the repairs on my car, I would have to put in a claim with my own car insurance company. I would be responsible for paying my deductible, and my insurance premiums could rise. When the other insurance company finally finished its determination, my insurance company would collect after the fact. But I would still be out a significant chunk of change.

I decided to wait. The other car insurance company finally talked to the other driver and agreed to take responsibility. However, an adjuster still hasn’t visited the body shop where my car has been sitting for two weeks. I’ve been driving around a rental car for several days, and it looks like I’ll be driving the rental car for at least another two or three weeks. My worry now is that the other car insurance company, although it arranged for the rental car, will balk at paying for the time I’ve had the car before repairs were started — even though I did everything in my power to move things along and save them money.

What do you think? Have you ever faced big hassles with a car accident even though you were fully covered? Has the laziness of another driver in an accident had consequences for you?

(Photo: Flickr user meddygarnet)

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Car insurance surprise: Want your car back fast? Pay up”

  1. Brett says:

    I used to sell car insurance, and any reputable agent/company should have told you to just file the claim, and you’d be reimbursed later for your deductible and any other costs to fix your car if the other party was found to be 100% at fault. I’m not sure where you live, but here in TN, it’s against the law for companies to raise your rates for accidents that weren’t your fault.

  2. Ugh, what a mess. Though I would have done the same thing and not gone out of pocket in order to speed up the process. That seems like taking on risk unnecessarily.

  3. Tat-2 says:

    Wondering why your insurance company did not contact the other company and get the ball rolling… They should ahve doen all the talkign for you…

  4. How awful! I’ve not had to deal with something like this and I hope I never do. I hope things resolve more quickly and I hope the insurance company pays for the rental car.

  5. I don’t think the other driver not responding was out of laziness. Not everyone has a job that seems to be as flexible as your employer is regarding calls. Many people would lose their job if they stopped to take a phone call.

    That said I do agree that the whole process seems designed to take longer than it should. I am in a similar situation now. It’s been two weeks and they still haven’t spoken to the other driver…

  6. Valerie RInd says:

    Miranda, I’m sorry you had an accident and glad you’re OK.

    I had the opposite experience when my car was totaled in a 4-car collision. I was partly at fault yet the whole claim process went incredibly easily.

    It depends on your insurer. Mine is USAA (no, this is not a paid plug and YMMV) and it shows that picking one just because they have the cheapest rates isn’t always the best choice. [When we were at FinCon I stopped by their booth at the exhibitors hall and gushed about their customer service.]

    One thing I learned is that you should NEVER talk to the other driver’s insurance company. They may be trying to get you to admit liability. Let your insurer handle all communications.

    Hope it all works out for you!

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