FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Are personal items stolen from my car covered under my comprehensive coverage under my auto insurance?
Your auto policy specifically excludes coverage for any items in your automobile that are/were not professionally installed by either the auto manufacturer or a licensed auto installation technician. However, if you carry a homeowners or renters policy that includes coverage for theft you can file a claim under your homeowners/renters policy. But, you should keep in mind the amount of your homeowners deductible and also that it will be a claim that goes on your claim history for the next 5-7 years.
Can an insurance company tell if I was on my cell phone before/during and covered accident?
The insurance company does not have any immediate way to see if you were on your cellular device. However, if it is an accident that involves multiple injuries and both involved parties are disputing what occurred, then chances are, that it will go to either an arbitration hearing or a court hearing. Either way for both hearings the insurance company has the right to subpoena your cell phone records to see if you were using your cell phone. The best thing is to be honest. If you were on a call just prior to the accident and the adjuster asks you if you were using your phone be honest if you were. Also be honest as to whether or not you were using a hands free device or not.
Do I have coverage for my ATV’s under my homeowner’s policy?
Usually the answer is yes, but it only provides very limited coverage. Most policies only provide limited coverage for ATV’s and it is only for while you are on your own property. Often the coverage is only for property damage to the ATV due to a covered loss such as fire. Other times they provide liability coverage for injury as long as it occurs on your property. It is best to check your specific policy to see what it does or does not cover.
Do I really need Uninsured Motorists if I already have Health Insurance?
You should check with your healthcare provider to make sure they do not have exclusions for injuries incurred in an automobile accident. If you have medical insurance through Doyle-Crow & Associates, give us a call and we can let you know. You should also consider that your health insurance would only pay for medical bills. UM/UMBI coverage also pays you for “pain and suffering.” Some insurance companies also pay for loss of wages while you recover from your injuries.
How come my insurance company is having me talk to an adjuster that is not even in my state to determine fault for my accident?
The trend for insurance companies has transitioned from adjuster’s investigating in the field to investigating remotely from the office. Now that we can google map just about any location in the US, contact people easily on their cell phones and take statements, there is no need to physically go out to locations and investigate. Insurance claims are determined by the location of the damages to each vehicle vs the statements of each individual vs any witness or police documentation. There is little that can be gained from taking measurements from a scene. There is no way to recreate the accident scenario or know exactly how fast each party was traveling (except for vehicles with black boxes). As insurance companies spend more money on new software that will ultimately be able to take specific locations, the information from black boxes, and the statements from insured’s and recreate accidents we will see new exciting investigation techniques. In the meantime it is location of damage vs involved party’s statements vs witness/police information. All of these things can be done remotely and cheaper than sending someone out to you.
How long do claims stay on my claims history?
My understanding is that it can vary slightly from state to state but for Oklahoma auto claims the standard time frame is a little less than 3 years (35 months). For homeowners it varies and can be anywhere from 5-7 years.
How much does an insurance company give for pain and suffering?
There is no single formula or guideline that all insurance companies use to determine how much monetary value they will put on any one person’s pain and suffering. If you have been injured it is best to consult with the insurance company directly and ask them how they determine these amounts and then seek legal counsel if you feel the insurance company is not being fair or reasonable. However, before seeking legal counsel, make sure you do some research online and see if is to your advantage to use an attorney. For a small “soft tissue” claim it is usually not to one’s advantage to use an attorney due to the attorney fees incurred usually outweigh any additional settlement amount the attorney may be able to negotiate with the insurance company. For large injury claims where one has been maimed or permanently disabled it is usually strongly encouraged that you consult with an attorney. Keep in mind, pain and suffering, is only paid out if, and only if, there is any money remaining from the at-fault parties liability limits after medical expenses have been paid.
I was involved in an accident that was not my fault but the other person had no insurance and I was forced to use my collision coverage – Can the insurance company now raise my rates?
According to the Oklahoma Department of Insurance website: the answer is no according to their reference to “section 941 of Oklahoma Insurance Code.” However, insurance companies do have the power to raise rates at renewal for other reasons. Just because you get a rate increase is not always contingent on your driving. The insurance company puts you into a group of similar drivers that they insured and determine rates based on evaluating the data of the whole group. If they lose money for one group during any given term it is a good bet that they will raise rates for the whole group starting at each individual’s renewal. A good example of this is if you have a policy for 6 months and have no accidents but still your rates go up – basically other drivers in your group had too costly of accidents and ruined the rates for the whole group and the insurance company passes the extra costs onto you.
If I am in an accident due to inclement weather is it still my fault?
Yes. Insurance companies do not allow you to disclaim responsibility for any accidents based on weather. If you choose to drive on icy roads and you subsequently slide into the rear of a stopped vehicle due to the icy roads you are still considered 100% at fault. The only scenario in which you can be waived of your responsibility is if there is an oil slick on the road that causes you to lose control of your vehicle.
In what cases will an insurance company consider my car to be drivable vs. non-drivable?
The insurance company will consider it drivable it there is only cosmetic damage to the vehicle and otherwise it still operates fine. If when you turn your wheel it rubs against any part of the car they will consider the car non-drivable. If your glass is blown out they will consider it non-drivable. If you are a high profile person or accustomed to a luxury car that you keep in pristine condition and it embarrasses you to be seen in a dented car that drives just fine the insurance company will unfortunately tell you it is still drivable and will not offer rental. There are exceptions for people that use their vehicles for business such as realtors. Each insurance company has their own guidelines in place. A general rule of thumb is if driving the car will cause it additional damage or put you in jeopardy of harm while driving it then it is considered non drivable.
Isn't the Insurance company able to tell fault by looking at the damaged vehicles?
No. There are many different kinds of accidents where the damages do not clearly show who is at fault. Take for example two cars traveling the same direction down a roadway that has two lanes going westbound. The car in the inside lane crosses over slightly into the right hand lane and swipes the car in the outside lane. The damage that will be left behind is likely only paint/rubber transfer from one car to another. Due to the differences in materials/paint/manufacturing no two paint transfers are alike. Sometimes the car that crosses over leaves its paint on the other car, sometimes the car that is hit is the one that leaves its paint on the other car. There is no way to tell who hit whom. This is why you should always try and get any witnesses information. Also if a person admits fault at a scene have them sign a paper saying they admit fault and get a third party to sign as a witness to the signed agreement.
My rental coverage is for $25 a day but I cannot find a rental car for less than $35 a day. Do I have to make up the difference?
Yes. Your policy will only pay the previously agreed upon daily amount. If you cannot find a vehicle for that amount or if the vehicle you wish to rent is higher than the amount your policy pays you are responsible for the difference. If you normally drive a large SUV but only opted for 25 a day in rental coverage the policy does not state that it will provide you with a comparable rental vehicle. It will only pay the face amount of the coverage.
What are split limits?
Split limits are usually shown like this: 25/50/25. The insurance company offers you liability coverage in what they call split limit packages and no matter what insurance company you use the numbers are always interpreted the same. The first number 25 is the amount of money the insurance company will pay for any one person’s injuries that are due to your negligence while you are operating your automobile. The second number is the maximum amount of money your insurance company will pay for any one accident that results in injury to multiple people. The third number is the maximum amount of property damage that your insurance company will pay as a result of any one congruent or unbroken chain of events that causes damage to another person’s property.
What can I do to keep my insurance rates low?
The most drastic thing you can do is check your area that you live in and see if it is considered a high risk area and then move to a lower risk area, but that is way too much of a hassle to be reasonable. Another option is to voluntarily take a defensive driver course. Once you successfully pass the course you can receive discounted rates for three years from your pass date. Other options are to look at companies such as progressive that reward drivers for certain driving behaviors or to pay attention to your mailing offers that offer certain auto incentive plans for being a member of a certain organization. You can also take a single online college course for pretty cheap and then put down on your applications that you have “some” college which gets you a discount. If you get a ticket and you think you have a chance to beat it in court or the police officer will not show up to court go ahead and fight it. If you win then you will not have to list that ticket when applying for insurance which will keep your rates lower than they would have been. Also shop around at least once a year to make sure you are getting the most affordable rates for your car insurance. Every insurance company has what they call an “appetite for risk.” The insurance companies’ appetite for risk varies from one market (state) to another and sometimes they find that they have taken on too much business for any one region at a given amount of time and will raise your rates at renewal. If you get a renewal offer that is more than 20% than the last years offer you should definitely check around!
What coverage do I have to purchase if I still have a lien on my car?
Whenever you take a loan out to purchase your automobile the lender has stipulations in the contract of the loan that mandate you purchase collision and comprehensive insurance coverage for the automobile and provide them with proof of that coverage. Nowadays, with everything automated, if you cancel coverage the lender is usually made aware of it pretty quickly and has the authority to purchase replacement insurance coverage at your expense and can add it to the face amount of your loan.