So you narrowly escaped a trip to the ER when a freckled-faced teen with a freshly – minted license took a stop sign and half of your rear- quarter panel. But now that your new Audi looks like your Uncle Otto’s accordion, what do you do next?
Here’s some advice:
1) Do you have comprehensive/collision coverage? Good, use it! – Most policies have property damage coverage but property damage coverage doesn’t actually cover damage to your property. It covers only damage to the property of others. What you’ll want to check is if you bought optional “comprehensive\collision” coverage that insures your car damage regardless of fault. This gives you the option to submit to your own insurance company, have them pay it and let them chase down the driver who hit you.
The benefits of this approach are: a) you’re their customer and they’ll likely treat you better and b) your insurer is going to try to get their money back from the other driver who hit you so they likely won’t nickel and dime you on the repair (so get your estimate at the dealership where you know you will get factory parts).
The downside is: you will be out of pocket for the deductible (often between $500 to $1,000) until your insurance company can get you reimbursed from the other driver’s insurer.
2) What if I don’t have good insurance or don’t want to involve my company? If you have minimum coverage then you may be stuck pursuing the insurance of the car that hit you, and their job is to look out for their driver – not you.
Remember, even though your pride may be telling you that “Freckle-Faced Freddie’s people should be paying for this mess,” never forget that if you had the sense to pay for extra coverage, have the sense to use it.
Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of two of Florida’s most widely distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law. He also represents accident victims and consumers at war with their insurance companies and is based in North Miami, Dania Beach, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Questions? Contact: Russ@lazegalaw. com.