Car accidents: Fairness isn't covered

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Question: Another car got hit from behind, lost control, flipped over and landed on top of my car.  Everyone got out safely and then both cars caught fire and are a total loss.  Neither of us had collision or comprehensive coverage and the other driver's insurer says they won't pay me because the third car (that took off) was at-fault.  How is this possible? Her car is the one that did the damage to mine.

Answer: Insurance companies only pay for what their insured policyholder is legally liable for, and, in this case, hers is saying she has no liability. Unless there is some evidence that she was  negligent , the insurer is correct.

You have a right to be frustrated since you were involved in a pretty scary auto accident that left your car in flames and a total loss. Now you find that you have no recourse against the only other known party.

If she were at-fault (for instance, she had run a red light), then normally you would have been able to make claims against her liability coverages - bodily injury for any injuries sustained and property damage for the damages your vehicle sustained. But neither one of you caused the accident. The other driver is as much a victim as you are; without collision or comprehensive coverage, she won't be seeing any checks from her insurance company, either.

If the at-fault driver had actually stayed, then you and the driver of the car that ended up on top of your car would both probably be fighting over how much of the responsible party's liability insurance limits each of you would receive (if the person didn't have high enough limits to pay for both of your damages in full, which is quite likely given that two cars were totaled).

With neither of the other drivers' insurance policies available, the only coverage that would pay for your car is a collision policy of your own. To pay for your hospital bills, you would need personal injury protection or medical payments. You may also be covered under uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage since in many states this also covers injuries resulting from a hit-and-run accident.

Some states require that you carry uninsured motorist coverages as part of your state minimum auto insurance coverages. Check your policy to find out if you have these coverages and see if you can make a claim.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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