Auto Accident Experience

#1
So DW ended up getting rear ended a week ago. We think the car is totaled based on damage/age of vehicle. Insurance company is working slow and I am not too confident in the ability of my insurance claims person. Looking for any advice/lessons learned as well as specific questions.

Rear ended on the highway. Police came out and made a report (have not seen yet). DW went in ambulance to ER that day and came out with some pain pills. We are hopeful there are no lasting effects from the accident.

We reported the accident to our insurance to have them do all the work (expecting the other guy's insurance to be on the hook). Car has been moved to our insurance claims area to be inspected. I have a rental car now.

She was on the way for a short weekend trip. We had to cancel those plans and I drove out and picked her and the kids up.

1. Is there any reimbursement for the lost travel? I had hotel reservations that were cancelled too close in for a refund - note that I used points and lost them due to cancellation. The points do have a $ value comparable to the rate at the hotel.
2. We had personal belongings damaged - specifically a bike rack and bicycle. Do they cover this loss?
3. If the car is a total loss: Who has had experience with an older car (about 10 years)? Will I get the tru replacement value or will they try to short me? It is one owner and well maintained.
4. Will I be able to get the vehicle damage $s and still have the medical piece open for a while? I just don't want to sign off and then have something show as back/neck injuries can sometimes not show for a while.
5. Can we have the ER & Ambulance charges covered and still leave the medical open?
6. Anything else I need to think about?
 

Piiilot

Platinum Member
#2
First thing you need to realize is you use the word "I" in your post. You are going to get nothing. Your wife will be the victim. What you need to do is figure out what your wife's real damages are. What's not being paid by insurance and then you can probably answer your own questions. You are going to get the book value of your 10 year old car. Tort reform made this process pretty sterile.
 

IBM5081

Platinum Member
#3
Here's my experience FWIW. My old pickup truck was totalled by a driver already in the assigned risk insurance pool. I was not injured in any way and it was on a Plano city street. Police were called and a report was taken. After waiting a few days, I was able to get the police records department and her insurance company in a three-way phone call which expedited that part of the process. The insurance adjuster said that the cost to repair exceeded the fair market value of my vehicle. I had two choices: keep the damaged vehicle or surrender the vehicle and get a check for $1000. I took the money option and received it the following week. I found another (newer) used F-150 and bought it. That's the auto insurance side of the story.
As far as everything else (other than the vehicle), check with your insurance agent and a representative of the other party's insurance company to determine what they cover and how to document it. I recommend that you begin shopping for a replacement vehicle now, assuming that you will get $1000 for the damaged one. Once a financial settlement is accepted, the rental vehicle cost will become your expense. Old vehicles (especially those that are paid for) are actually worth very little compared to the transportation value they have for your family.
One other item to realize is that a wrecked vehicle "may never be the same as before" as far as the driving experience. Paint and body work can make it LOOK all right but the frame could be bent or misaligned. You would not want to put your entire family in an old van that might not be safe even after repair. It will be expensive and it was not your fault but replacing the old van with an un-damaged one will be money well spent. It could become a money-pit due to its age as well.
 

boiler01

Silver Member
#4
My experience:

-Of course there is no coverage for travel related losses through your/their car insurance
-No, you will not get any coverage for loss or damage to your personal items
-You will only get the value of the car, not the replacement value (parents where in an accident that totaled an 4yo car, completely paid for, had they still had payments it would have been replaced. Instead they received about $11,000 for the car. No where near the replacement value.) And the insurance used a comparison of the value of the car with someone who had 50,000 more miles on it than my parents.
-Certain medical can be covered or left open. My parents were significantly injured, hospital, surgeries, physical therapy, etc. All told it took over two years to deal with the medical. At the end they could not leave the medical open because the case needed to be closed. At that point they were awarded a set amount placed in a trust to cover lingering medical liability.

I am not an expert, nor am I completely privy to every nuance of this case. However, my parents were also in California, not Texas and my father was airlifted to the hospital. It was a major accident. Even in the cluster f- that is the California court systems my parents received little compensation compared to what they would have received just a few years prior. Both of my parents still suffer lingering effects of the accident and the medical trust is gone. It is now covered by their health insurance.

I am sorry your wife was in an accident, but my best guess is that you will not receive anywhere near what you are thinking you should be awarded. I was lucky when I was rear-ended back during the ice storms. His insurance covered the repairs within a couple weeks, paid for the rental, and I was back on the road with no issue. I wasn't given anything for missing work, or the like.
 
#5
If you want a check fast, it will be smaller than fighting it.

While you are fighting, you will need to cover your transportation costs. Insurance companies leverage your need for money NOW to make the settlement smaller.

I suggest full medical exams for all parties to help document the issues/pain immediately.
 
#6
I would think that all of your questions/concerns could be answered by your insurance company. If you are dissatisfied with your claims representative ask for a supervisor. A lot depends on what your insurance covers.
 

JJFrisco

Double Platinum
#7
I've only been in 1 accident and it was minor, but I worked with the guy's insurance, not mine. By going through your company, are you sure they are not creating a claim that will ding your insurance rates down the road?
 

Rowland

Bronze Member
#8
From my experience/perspective managing auto claims departments:
- For the first two, this is assuming the other party will have valid coverage OR that UM would apply
1. Is there any reimbursement for the lost travel? I had hotel reservations that were cancelled too close in for a refund - note that I used points and lost them due to cancellation. The points do have a $ value comparable to the rate at the hotel.
- My inclination would be yes, however the amount could be disputed. I would get a quote for a normal room during that time and submit it for damages, along with proof that you cannot receive your points back for cancelling the stay. It may be a negotiation point, but technically you did suffer a loss.

2. We had personal belongings damaged - specifically a bike rack and bicycle. Do they cover this loss?
- Yes, they should be covered by the at fault party's insurance. I would recommend looking for receipts/comparable replacements.

3. If the car is a total loss: Who has had experience with an older car (about 10 years)? Will I get the tru replacement value or will they try to short me? It is one owner and well maintained.
- Most carriers will use a "market value survey" which is theoretically a survey of similar year/make/model vehicles in the area that have recently sold. First, when you receive the report make sure ALL of the options are listed for your vehicle. Second, check KBB private party (make sure it's the private party) for an idea of the value of the vehicle. If you feel like everything is in line, I would stop there and settle, or if you feel a little bit of negotiation would resolve it. However, if not, you could consider paying for a CarFax report, which would likely show an increase in value due to one owner and possibly if there was no prior damage/accidents.

4. Will I be able to get the vehicle damage $s and still have the medical piece open for a while? I just don't want to sign off and then have something show as back/neck injuries can sometimes not show for a while.
- Yes. The property damage and bodily injury claims are separate.

5. Can we have the ER & Ambulance charges covered and still leave the medical open?
- Most carriers will not do this, unless you have PIP/Medpay on your policy. And then your policy would pay those.
 

Rowland

Bronze Member
#9
I've only been in 1 accident and it was minor, but I worked with the guy's insurance, not mine. By going through your company, are you sure they are not creating a claim that will ding your insurance rates down the road?
It is not supposed to increase your rates if you are in an accident where you are not at fault.

OP could see a rate increase, but it would be difficult to say if using his coverage would be the reason or if it is just due to a premium increase.
 
#10
It is not supposed to increase your rates if you are in an accident where you are not at fault.

OP could see a rate increase, but it would be difficult to say if using his coverage would be the reason or if it is just due to a premium increase.
We went through our insurance for significant accident that other driver caused. Our company paid us and then recovered from at fault drivers company. We saw no change to premium and our car was totaled.


Good point on options. I was able to get several thousand more by knowing the options on car and how that compared to cars used for assessment. I always keep window sticker and sent that into insurance company.

We did settle medical all at once so don't settle until you think all costs have been considered.

We also were asked about damage to personal property as part of claim.

Good luck.
 

rbrodner

Diamond Member
#11
One thing to remember is that your insurance cannot subrogate medical expenses (only vehicle damage type stuff). In other words your insurance cannot pay the medical bills and send them to the other insurance company for reimbursement. If you send any medical bills to your insurance company, they are the ones that pay them and it's a claim against your policy (which equals future rate increases). All medical bills should go directly to the insurance company of the at fault driver.
 

Rowland

Bronze Member
#12
One thing to remember is that your insurance cannot subrogate medical expenses (only vehicle damage type stuff). In other words your insurance cannot pay the medical bills and send them to the other insurance company for reimbursement. If you send any medical bills to your insurance company, they are the ones that pay them and it's a claim against your policy (which equals future rate increases). All medical bills should go directly to the insurance company of the at fault driver.
That's true if paid under PIP, but Medpay (if OP has it) payments can be recovered.
 
#13
Thanks for all of the inputs. Here is my update:
Got points back for hotel (so no issue)
Car was assessed at a total loss. Just received appraisal info.
Looks like we will probably not have any more medical claims/issues.

New question - Has anyone challenged the insurance appraisal Value ($s) for a total loss? I understand the methodology (value of comparable vehicles and then adjust for condition, options, etc.).

They used 20, with 3 of them detailed out. I found that there were some errors, and that those vehicles were very different (had a lot of "adjustments" for trim level, options, etc.).
For the 20, none were the same trim level, the adjusted value in total ranged 2.5X, and the adjustments to the comps were 1/3 the vehicle value. Note that they did give me favorable vehicle condition, so this should not be a factor.
But yet a couple of comps with a lower trim value and more miles were adjusted down in value to make it comparable. Comparable value should have gone up, not down.

I don't feel the valuation is sound (kinda looks like the games the county tax office plays). They would not let me send in info until now. I have provided them the window sticker + receipts for OEM Dealer options added on.

They sent me everything at COB Friday and I will be calling them Monday (asking for a manager) to discuss the communication, valuation and next steps.

Of course they did Friday to get of additional rental costs. And they did not let me know until that time that it was a total loss (no communication)

It all feels fishy to me that someone is playing games. I have had the same insurer for 20+ years and great experiences, including a couple of claims, with great satisfaction. The people I speak with are obviously not offshore. I just don't know what is up.
 

Rowland

Bronze Member
#14
Without seeing or knowing the specifics, it's hard to say if the valuation is correct. If you have a specific model or trim, then they could have difficulty locating a vehicle with that exact trim. The market value report would then have to be adjusted based on the different trims/miles/options, etc..

You said there are some errors and that would be the first place to start. Print out their report and check off each option that you have vs. what is listed on the report. Make sure to start with them rating your vehicle as a specific year/make/model (and not listing yours as a lower model).

Next, I would go through the different vehicles they listed (besides the 3 main ones) to see if the other vehicles are closer to our market area, the same model as your vehicle, or any other factor that makes those more like your car vs. the 3 primary ones they used.

Then, I would search autotrader or similar websites to see what vehicles are for sale that are comparable to yours. Keep in mind, the list price of the vehicles may not be the selling price. Combine that with various valuations of KBB Private Party, some numbers from NADA, and you should end up with a range.

As far as when the vehicle was declared a total loss, etc. Most of the reports will show a date that the vehicle was declared a total loss by the insurance company, or you can request the estimate to see when the estimate was completed. Combined, those should show you when they knew your car was a total loss and when they made the offer. Often times, there can be several layers of management these things must go through to get approved.

If they made a mistake with options, etc. on your vehicle they may be willing to extend the rental a few additional days. I would strongly recommend working on a contingency plan for a new car though. Technically they do not owe you a rental vehicle once your car has been declared a total loss and an offer made to you, so they do have a strong bargaining position in that area.
 
#15
Try this line out.

"This gets to my valuation based on three similarly trimmed cars or we go to court. THEN SHUT UP. They will blah blah blah argue. Repeat and shut up." Remember they record all conversations and its not for your benefit.
 
#16
I researched my own comps and argued their settlement. It literally takes screaming and threatening them on the phone. If you're calm or act nice, you won't get their attention and they'll manipulate you to their advantage. That's what they're trained to do. I only got about $1000 more on a $15,000 settlement offer - and left the medical open for several more years. Lingering health bills by my injured daughter.

Just make that phone call away from your kids or work. I find you have to occasionally drop a curse word with these folks. And they really hate when you turn down the settlement offer and leave it open for a few more weeks - they're judged on employee reviews (and for bonuses) on how many of their claims go past 30 days. Plus the longer the settlement offer is not agreed to - the greater chance you will take them to court. (Going to court btw is a lose-lose proposition - not a good return on your time, aggravation and legal fees. Been there, done that.)

Yep, record all calls. That is legal here in Texas without telling them. Keep a journal of dates, calls etc.
 
#17
And I never involve my own insurance company when the other other driver is clearly at fault. I did that only once, and the dumb arses at my own insurance company agreed to split the liability and the claim rather than wasting a lot of their collective time. (The other driver had even changed their story a day later and tried to pin the accident in me.) I was pissed - it cost me my deductible. The two insurance companies collaborated and took the easy way out. Never again. Plus it went on my insurance/driving records.

BTW, I know it is stressful when someone runs into you - and it's hard to think clearly. I pause for a minute before jumping out of the car and take a few breaths, and I turn my cell phone to record audio - and I keep the phone in my hand when I go talk to the other driver. The other driver will usually admit fault at the accident scene - but change their story when they talk to their own insurance company or if they file a police report. (I just open up the conversation by nicely saying "hey you hit me. What happened?" Most will apologize and make some excuse for their distraction. But then they'll change their story later.)

And if you ever talk to the other driver by phone while coordinating insurance contacts or if they've offered to repair your car out of pocket, record every single phone call.
 
#18
Oh there is definitely a time and place to get nasty.

My mom was in court on a auto claim the defendant non knowing my mom was representing the plaintiff was showing off her engagement/wedding ring. She showed my mom each individually. My mom had a pretty good idea that the defendant was not going to pay the claim since the damages were well above the insurance limit. My mom ended up holding her engagement as collateral for the claim.

She got paid.

A couple of hisses from the other attorney's in the room too.

This was circa 1976 - not a lot of women in court then. The defendant was crying like a baby.

When you gotta get nasty, you gotta get nasty.
 
#19
Thanks. I left a message for the manager for the department. I'll discuss the issues with him on the comps and calculations. They did do a quick revision and still show my Tires as only Good (even with receipts showing they were bought within the month) and tweaked a few of the comp vehicles. So I now actually have more listed with Higher miles/Lower trim & options that are considered better than my vehicle. It really looks like someone put (-) instead of (+) in a few spots.

One thing they did say is that I can claim both Medical and PI on my policy and also on the other guy's insurance. And this would be without impacting my rates. I sort of understand why, but it just doesn't sound right.
Essentially my policy pays because I have coverage. His pays because he is at fault. So we can double dip. I even asked "So with my coverage I should always go to the ER, so I get paid the same as the doctor for the day" and she said "Yes".
 

mommy22

Bronze Member
#20
Surprised you are dealing with overseas people on a claim- you should have a (relatively) local adjustor. I had a one-owner older car with very low miles total loss...I negotiated the offer and had it improved but not but as much as I would have liked- still not difficult and not nasty. Just try to be patient..sure hope you don't have to get tough , but if it takes that then have at 'em!