Car insurance is designed to protect you in the case of an accident. However, it’s also designed to protect you in a situation where you aren’t directly at-fault. Even if you’re a cautious driver with an excellent driving record, there’s always a chance that you’ll be involved in an accident caused by another driver. It’s important to ensure you’re covered during these times.
Insurance generally involves two parties:
- The policyholder, or first party
- And the insurance company, or second party
However, when the policyholder is liable in an accident, the other driver can file a claim — as a third party — through the first party’s insurance company.
If you’re involved in an accident where the other driver is at fault, you’ll need to know how to make a claim against their insurance. That’s where a third-party claim steps in. In a first-party claim, you use your own insurance company to cover costs. However, in a third-party claim, you use the other driver’s insurance to pay for your repairs, damages, and medical expenses.
Let’s review the details of third-party claims — and how you can make a claim against another driver’s insurance.
What is a third-party insurance claim?
A third-party claim is the act of using a different driver’s liability insurance to cover damage or injury caused by a car accident. These claims can be filed directly through the at-fault driver’s insurance company — even if you aren’t a policyholder.
Also known as a liability claim, these situations occur when you’re the third party to the driver and their insurance company. These claims generally hold the at-fault driver responsible for any damages to your vehicle. And depending on your location and coverage, the other driver’s insurance may cover any resulting medical expenses.
What information should you gather at the time of the accident?
Filing an auto insurance claim against a third-party is easier than you might think. Like you would in any other accident, it’s first important to:
- Stay calm, move your vehicle to a safe location, and call 911.
- Get medical help immediately if anyone is injured, and be sure to contact the police, even in a minor accident.
- As always, discuss the accident with the police only.
- Do not admit fault to anyone. It can be hard to resist the impulse to say “I’m sorry” when you’re worried or stressed, but this can result in placing blame on you for the accident — even if it wasn’t your fault.
Once first responders and police are on their way, gather all the information you need to file a claim:
- Name, address, insurance policy numbers, and phone numbers of all parties involved.
- Photos of all damage and the scene of the accident — including how each vehicle currently sits, skid marks, and any other features if possible. However, never step into the street/moving traffic to take pictures of the accident. Only take what photos you can from safe distances.
- Details of the accident, including the order of events, location, weather, and more.
Depending on state laws, the responding police will require you to file a report. At this time, the police will generally determine who is at-fault for the accident. It’s important to request a copy of the police report, as you may need it to file a claim.
How to make a claim against someone else’s insurance
It’s important to notify the right people and companies involved. Once you notify first responders and police, it’s important to contact your insurance company — even if you aren’t the driver at-fault.
If another driver is found at-fault, you can file a third-party claim with their insurance company. Your insurance company will then work with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to sort out liability coverage. Alternatively, your insurance company may have you file a third-party claim with the other party’s insurance.
When should (or shouldn’t) I file a claim?
If you’re involved in a collision with another driver, you’re generally better off filing a claim immediately. While some people may consider negotiating an out-of-pocket settlement, sidestepping the claim process may result in unforeseen consequences. For example, the driver may find additional damage to their vehicle. Plus, your auto insurance can often help cover property damage or injury expenses, and pay for legal costs (should you be taken to court).
So, when is it acceptable to not file a claim? As a rule of thumb, you should be absolutely certain there’s no damage to the other vehicle or other people’s property before not filing a claim. Consider if the cost of repairs is less than — or comparable to — the cost of your policy deductible. While it may be tempting to handle things off the record, you always run the risk of being sued at a later time. That’s why it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Understanding basic types of insurance for claims
While it’s always helpful to understand the types of insurance available to you, after an accident, it’s wise to read up on your policy. Not only will it help jog your memory on which types of coverage are included in your policy, but it’ll also provide more details into your current situation. Below are just a few examples of basic types of insurance to use in claims.
Using your own insurance to fix the problem.
Depending on the state you reside in, you may need to use your own insurance to cover costs.
Liability coverage, or “third-party coverage,” is the most basic coverage for vehicles and pays for a victim’s claims in medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and more.
As the name implies, collision insurance helps pay for vehicle repairs and replacements if it’s damaged in an accident with another vehicle or object.
Similarly, comprehensive coverage encompasses situations that fall outside of a collision, including theft, flood, fire, or animal damage.
No-Fault and Personal Injury Protection
No-fault and personal injury protection insurance (PIP) are two additional types of coverage. In states with no-fault insurance laws, you must make injury claims through your own provider as well — although true no-fault accidents are rare. Generally speaking, no-fault insurance occurs when the insured party is compensated by their own insurance company for losses, regardless of the cause of the loss. PIP is often coupled with no-fault insurance and covers medical expenses in an accident, regardless of who’s at fault.
Underinsured / Uninsured Protection
When dealing with underinsured drivers, you can also use your own underinsured motorist coverage. In these situations, your medical bills may be covered by your own insurance.
Regardless, if you’re filing directly through your insurance company, you can use your claims portal to start the process. From there, your company will determine fault and negotiate payout. At Elephant Insurance, claims can be filed 24/7 online. Simply fill out a claims form and a Claims Specialist will be in touch regarding the next steps within one business day.
Get the Right Coverage for Your Needs
We hope this helped answer your questions about third-party insurance claims. While accidents are never something that drivers want to be a part of, they do happen. That’s why it’s best to be equipped with the right knowledge and coverage. At Elephant, we’re here to get you back on the road, no matter the details of an accident.
Get a quote today to learn more about getting the best coverage for your needs.
Article last updated on June 25th, 2023 at 7:16 pm