Car accidents can be one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. Nobody ever prepares you that what happens after the accident can almost be worse than the accident itself. Not only do you have to deal with finding the right body shop, but you might also have possible injuries and all the many inconveniences that come when you’re without your vehicle. The last thing you’d ever expect is the other driver and insurance company denying liability. Things couldn’t get any worse and yet, they somehow just did.
What do you do when this situation happens? Is there anything you can do?
You’ve reported the accident to the insurance company of the driver who hit you and provided them more than what they would need to satisfy the claim. You did everything right following the accident: took photos, possibly filed a police report, and gathered detailed notes of the accident. You could wait for the other insurance company to call you and inform you of the outcome. But whether you decide to call them yourself or wait until they call you, it’s not long before you discover the other driver denied responsibility and your claim was denied by their insurance.
Why Your Claim Was Denied
It may come as a surprise to you, but there are a few possible reasons why your claim was denied. One of the most commonly used excuses insurance companies use for denying the claim is the police officers who were present at the scene of the accident didn’t actually point fingers over who was at fault. As a result, it’s only a “guess” over who’s fault it was, no matter how unfair that may seem.
Here are a few other reasons you might hear your claim was denied:
- Lapsed Policy: If the other driver failed to pay their premiums, this would cause their policy to lapse. As a result, their insurance company might claim that the driver had no coverage at the time of the accident. If this happens, you’ll need to rely on something known as “uninsured motorist coverage.” For more information on what to do in this situation, click here.
- Time is up: Insurance policies will also deny responsibility if an accident wasn’t reported in the allotted time. If it wasn’t major damage and the other driver doesn’t care much about getting their car fixed, they’re willing to let the time slip by. Depending on where you are located, you have 2-6 years to file a claim after an accident. Here in New Jersey, you have 2 years to file an accident claim. However, a car accident needs to be immediately filed. This is why it’s vital you not only inform your insurance company as soon as possible but the other driver’s insurance company as well so they don’t take their time in filing a claim.
- Policy exclusions: Insurance companies might deny your claim if they believe specific policy exclusions were the cause of the accident and not the driver. Sudden weather, such as a freak hail storm, is a widespread “act” that the other policy might consider an exclusion. As a result, your policy would be denied.
What To Do Next
You might be thinking that you need to hire a lawyer and while you’re justified for feeling that way, there’s something else you can try first. The very first thing you should do is ask the other driver’s insurance company for immediate proof. We’re here to let you know how you can get that proof.
Here’s how you can attain that proof: as the driver who was hit, you deserve to know why they (other driver’s insurance company) feel you’re not owed anything. This is why you should demand it sooner than later. Insurance companies are required to provide you with the documentation of the incident you need. Once that is in your possession, you can do whatever you want to argue your stance.
Next, you will probably want to call your own insurance company and see what they think your next plan of action should be. Your insurance company will pay for your repairs, and you’ll pay your deductible (per usual) on the repairs, so you can at least begin the process of getting your car repaired. Make sure you go to a collision repair shop that you prefer and trust, and not somewhere that your insurance company is saying will be the “fastest repair for your car.” Faster does not mean better when it comes to car repair, especially with how complex cars are manufactured nowadays.
No matter where your insurance company might be telling you to go, the choice to choose a body shop always remains in the hands of the customer. You want to take your car to an auto body shop that will repair your vehicle precisely as the manufacturer instructs, commonly known as OEM repairs. (For tips on finding the best and most trusted local auto body repair shops, click here.)
Another thing to keep in mind is while your insurance company is fighting on your behalf to get reimbursement on the repairs, they’ll probably also tell you to file a complaint with the other insurer. There’s no promise on what this will do, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Contact An Attorney
If none of that works, the next step would be to contact an attorney. It’s not always necessary, but an attorney can assist you with several things regarding the accident. Plus, if you were injured, hiring an attorney would be a wise step to take so that you can collect the damages that will cover your medical bills and repair costs.
Even if you don’t have injuries from an accident, here’s what one website states an attorney can do for you in the event your claim is denied:
“An attorney can look at all the evidence from the accident, recreate the scene of the crime, and they can determine who is at fault.”
Since most insurance companies are not willing to go to the extent of a judge getting involved, a settlement will more than likely be offered.
No-Fault Insurance States
At this time, there are only 18 states that are considered “no-fault insurance” states. Here in New Jersey, we are part of those 18 “no-fault” states. This type of insurance coverage “helps pay for your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re injured in a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident” (Allstate).
New Jersey is not only considered a no-fault insurance state, but we are also called a “choice no-fault” state. What this means is drivers can choose if they’ll be held to a no-fault system (Nationwide). It might sound confusing, but it will actually be what saves you a lot of aggravation if both you and the other party follow the laws for being a no-fault insurance state. They wouldn’t owe you anything, and you can return to normal life sooner than later. And who doesn’t want that?
Where In New Jersey Can I Get My Car Repaired?
Here at Autotech Collision Service, we get drivers coming into our shop all the time who are in the middle of dealing with the many stresses after getting in an accident. We can tell how shocked they are when the other driver’s insurance company denied their claim, especially when the other driver was clearly in the wrong.
We are here to help any with questions you may have regarding your policy because that’s the type of service you deserve from an auto repair shop. We have been proudly serving Southern New Jersey for nearly 30 years and aren’t stopping anytime soon because our customers are our number one priority.