“Welcome to Beautiful South Florida!” No really, that’s what the truck that rear-ended my client’s new Nissan says on it. To add insult to injury, the truck’s insurer is now taking longer than the cable company’s service department to respond to the claim. So what’s a stranded South Floridian to do?
Here are a few options from a lawyer who taught many insurance companies the tricks of the trade:
1) Check if you have Comprehensive and Collision coverage – While drivers are typically required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage coverage (covering damage you cause to the property of others), many people purchase optional comprehensive and collision coverage allowing you to submit the claim to your own insurer for payment. If you bought this coverage, your insurance company pays the claim and pursues the negligent party to get its money back.
2) Why Would I Look to My Insurance If I Wasn’t At-Fault? — The upside is: a) you will likely get prompt service because you are covered regardless of who is at fault; b) you will likely get better service because you are their customer (unlike dealing with someone else’s insurance company that’s looking out for their customer and their pocket); and c) your insurance company will get reimbursed from the other party so they’re less likely to nickel and dime you on quality repairs.
3) What’s The Downside? Typically it’s better to look to your own insurer (you paid for it after all) but: a) you’re responsible for the deductible (usually between $250- $1,000) and will have to wait for your insurer to try to recover that expense for you and b) if you’ve had multiple claims recently, your insurance could go up or be cancelled (typically only if you’ve had 2 or more claims within the past 18 months).
So, if you’ve been welcomed to Miami with a typical South Florida “Bang!” look first to your insurer and if that doesn’t work, then law firms like mine offer free consults.
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.