Getting Your Car Repaired When Fault is Disputed

By The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

Getting an insurance settlement for traffic accidents losses where fault is disputed can become a time-consuming, frustrating experience.

If you are in an accident caused by another person and aren't offered what you consider a fair settlement, there is a way to receive quicker payment for your damages with the help of your insurer.

You can use your own collision coverage to pay for damages to your own vehicle where another driver is at fault. You also can use your collision coverage to pay for damages caused by a hit-skip driver who was at fault. Then, through a process called subrogation -- in which you won't be involved -- your company subsequently will intervene, negotiate, and, if necessary, even arbitrate with the other driver's insurer to receive reimbursement for payment made on your behalf.

Subrogation reduces attorney use and speeds up the process of collection, according to Dan Meister, superintendent of Nationwide Insurance's liability claims division.

"It's well for motorists who have collision coverage to know that when they have a claim from a traffic crash that's the fault of the other driver, their first option is to pursue collection for losses on their own," Meister said. "However, if they have any difficulty collecting, they can use their own collision coverage to pay for damage repair and allow Nationwide to pursue reimbursement."

The success of subrogation or proving fault in any traffic accident depends greatly on the quality of the investigation and ability to prove facts. If you are in a traffic crash, you should:

  • Never discuss fault with the other driver. 
  • Get the names and addresses of any and all witnesses.
  • Don't make any statements to the other driver's insurer. 
  • Make a diagram of the accident scene.
Copyright 2004, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC)

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