- Stop your car in a safe place.
- Move your car, if needed, to protect against further damage and keep from blocking traffic.
- Call the police, especially when there are injuries or hit and run accidents.
- Get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance information.
- Record the name of the insurance company and policy number exactly as it appears on the other driver’s proof of insurance card.
- Get the names of any witnesses as well as their address and telephone number.
- Don’t agree to forget about the accident. You may have hidden damages, unknown injuries or later find that a lawsuit has been filed against you.
- Call your agent if you have any questions or concerns with the claims process. Your agent could be of assistance when filling out forms and documents required to proceed with your claim.
Who do I call to file a claim?
Contact your agent or insurance company. If another individual is responsible for your damages, you need to contact their insurance agent or company as well. The adjuster you are assigned will inform you of any additional steps needed.
How will a company determine who is at fault?
The insurance adjuster investigating the accident will attempt to determine who is negligent or at-fault. North Carolina Contributory Negligence Law bars a driver from collecting damages if determined to be partially at fault. In essence, if you contribute to an accident, you may not be able to collect on a liability claim. Any disagreement over negligence may ultimately have to be resolved in a court of law.
If your car can be repaired
Repairs to a vehicle may be necessary as a result from a claim on your own policy as a “first party claimant” or from your claim on someone else’s liability policy as a “third party claimant” for damages for which the person covered by the policy becomes legally responsible. In either circumstance, the insurance company is responsible for the costs to repair your vehicle. The insurance company may recommend a repair shop; however, you have the right to select the repair shop of your choosing. The amount determined by the insurer to be payable under the policy, will be paid regardless of whether or not you use the recommended repair service. No insurance company shall require the use of after-market parts unless the part is equal to the original part in terms of fit, quality, performance and warranty. Any modifications made necessary because of the use of after-market parts shall be included in the estimates.
If you, as the first party claimant, disagree with the amount of the loss, your policy contains an “Appraisal Provision”, where you and your insurance company select a competent appraiser and the two appraisers will select an umpire. The appraisers will state separately the Actual Cash Value and the amount of the loss. If they do not agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision by any two will be binding. You and the insurance company will each pay their chosen appraiser and bear the expenses of the appraisal and umpire equally.
If you, as the third party claimant, disagree with the amount of the loss, you have a couple of options. You can file a claim on your own comprehensive or collision coverage, if your policy includes that, and let your company “subrogate” or recover the payment from the liable company, or you can work with the appraiser from the company to review the estimates and work to come to an agreement. However, if a disagreement persists, it may ultimately have to be resolved in a court of law. It is always a good idea to discuss your options with your attorney.
If your car must be totaled
If a motor vehicle is damaged, to the extent that the total cost of repair is equal to or exceeds 75 percent of the preaccident actual cash value (ACV), the insurer shall consider the vehicle a total loss.
When your car is totaled, the insurance company is responsible for its ACV. ACV represents the local market value of the totaled vehicle.
If you are injured
Medical Payments coverage, if purchased, may provide some assistance for your doctor and hospital bills, regardless of fault.
Bodily injury claims can include doctor and hospital bills, laboratory fees, lost wages and pain and suffering that are a direct result of the accident.
The General Statutes of North Carolina establish no guidelines pertaining to the determination or calculation of any amount owed to you for pain and suffering. Therefore, if you and the insurance company cannot agree on the value of your claim you may wish to seek legal advice.
What if the insurance company and I cannot agree?
What if the insurance company and I cannot agree on the amount to be paid by my collision or other than collision (Comprehensive) coverage?
You can elect to use the appraisal provision of your policy. According to the provision, you and the insurance company will each choose a competent appraiser. The two appraisers will then select an umpire. The appraisers will state separately the ACV and the amount of loss. If they do not agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision by any two will be binding.
The insurance company and the insured will pay its chosen appraiser and bear the expenses of the appraisal and umpire.