Car Insurance Surprise: Want Your Car Back Fast?

Pay up

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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.

Car Insurance Surprise

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?

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