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This is general information; any applicable insurance policy and state law will control – this is not legal advice – you need your own attorney to obtain legal advice.

  • When your vehicle is damaged in an accident with another car, you have the option to file a claim either with your own insurance company, if you have the appropriate coverages (a first party claim), or with the insurer for the owner of the other car (a third party claim).
  • In order for you to be able to file a first party claim, your policy must provide Collision or Comprehensive coverage. These are often referred to as "Physical Damage Coverages".
  • Collision coverage protects you from damage caused to your car by a collision with another vehicle, a fixed object, or an object lying in the roadway. Collision coverage also protects you from damage caused by the upset of your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive coverage protects you if your car is stolen or vandalized or damaged by contact with an animal or falling object (i.e., tree limbs, rocks, stones, debris). It also covers your vehicle for glass breakage, fire, wind, hail, and flood damage.
  • If you file a first party claim, your insurance company will either pay to repair the damages to your vehicle or pay you the value of your vehicle if the damages exceed the car's worth. However, the company will subtract the deductible amount you have chosen for that coverage.
  • If you file a third party claim, the other driver's insurer will only pay for damages to your vehicle to the extent that their insured was legally responsible. In some instances, this may not be enough to reimburse you for the full amount of your loss.

Expand Section What must I do after a loss?

Expand Section What happens after I file a claim with the other driver's insurance company?

Expand Section Who decides who is at fault for the accident and how much they owe?

Expand SectionThe insurance company is telling me that they are going to deny my claim because it is not covered under their insured's policy even though their insured is clearly at fault for the accident. What can I do?

Expand SectionThe insurance company is telling me that their policyholder did not carry enough insurance to fully pay for my damages. What can I do?

Expand Section When will the other driver's insurance company contact me and how long do they have to look at my vehicle?

Expand Section How long does the insurance company have to settle my claim?

Expand Section Will the insurer have to reimburse me for renting a car?

Expand Section What about storage fees?

Expand Section Who decides whether or not my car can be repaired?

Expand Section Can I choose my own repair shop?

Expand Section Can I ask the insurer to recommend a repair shop?

Expand Section Does the insurance company have to use new parts to repair my car?

Expand Section Do I have to accept non-OEM parts?

Expand Section How will the value of my vehicle be calculated to determine if it is a total loss?

Expand Section Can the insurer deduct for any damage or rust to my car that existed before the loss?

Expand Section Does the insurer have to give me the option to keep my car after they have declared it a total loss?

Expand Section If the insurer settles my total loss and lets me keep the car, can I use the settlement money to fix it instead of selling it for salvage?

Expand Section Does the insurance company have to pay off my car loan?

Expand Section Must I conclude my claim within a certain time frame?

Expand Section What if the insurer denies my claim or if I disagree with their settlement offer?

Was your question not listed here? Contact our Consumer Affairs section with your question.

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