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Frequently Asked Claim Questions

What if their insured will not file a claim?

You cannot force an insured (the person who is named on the insurance policy, also called the policyholder) to file a claim. Get a copy of the police report to obtain insurance information. Otherwise you may have to take action in small claims court. Every insurance company, upon receiving notification of a claim, is required to acknowledge the receipt of such notice and act reasonably promptly, Idaho Code § 41-1329(2).

I have "full coverage." Why won't my company pay?

There is no definition of "full coverage" so often there are misunderstandings. In some cases “full coverage” means that comprehensive and collision coverages have been included even though these coverages still have limitations and exclusions. You need to read the declarations page you get from your company and see what coverages are listed. If there is a price shown beside the coverage, those are the coverages that you have. Towing, rental, and extended coverage for special stereo or other equipment are additional coverages you must request.

Their insured was cited by the police. Why do they have to investigate the claim?

A traffic citation is not a determination of legal liability. The company is obligated to investigate claims made according to their policy language. It is possible that there may be more than one person at fault and the liability could be shared. Idaho law addresses the theory of comparative/ contributory negligence, (Idaho Code § 6-801) in which parties to an accident can be found to share the fault. Each party has a duty to avoid an accident and their failure to perform those duties must be considered. Simply being "in the wrong place at the wrong time" is not proof of negligence.

They have declared my vehicle a total loss but will not pay me enough to replace it. Is that legal?

The company owes you the actual cash value of a comparable vehicle in your local area. You can determine this amount by using dealer quotes and/or newspaper ads or other auto sales publications, as long as the vehicle being sold is comparable to yours in mileage, condition, options, etc. In addition they will pay you sales tax on the value of your vehicle, and pay the re-title or title transfer fees and may pay for the release of liability fee.

If my car is determined to be a total loss, can I keep it?

You may have the option of keeping your car (called - “retaining the salvage”). If you do, the company will subtract the value of the salvage from the final settlement because you are retaining an item that has value.

I have spent a lot of time dealing with this claim. Can I charge the insured's insurance company for my time and costs?

A property damage claim includes the cost to repair or replace the vehicle and compensation for loss of use of that vehicle. Insurance policies define this property damage as the amount they will pay on behalf of their insured. There is no doubt that any accident is an inconvenience for everyone involved; however, the insured person's policy probably will not compensate you for time or lost wages under a property damage claim. Currently there is no law or case law that addresses this issue. This matter is often settled through Small Claims Court.

They want to repair my car using used parts. Can they do this?

The company owes you repair or replacement with like kind and quality parts, not necessarily new parts. If the parts and repairs are guaranteed by the repair shop, and are in the same condition as the parts damaged, they conform to the repair requirements. If you insist on certain parts, you may have to pay the additional cost.

Do they owe me a rental car, and for how long?

If the other party's insurance is accepting liability, you are entitled to be compensated for the loss of use of your vehicle for a reasonable length of time while it is under repairs or not drivable. If your vehicle is considered a total loss, most companies will provide a reasonable amount for loss of use. If your company is handling the damages, you must have rental coverage on your policy to obtain a rental car.

What if the estimates do not match?

The repair shop generally works with the adjuster to handle any "supplement" (additional costs) that occur due to hidden damage or parts price differences. If the company and the shop cannot agree, it is the responsibility of the company to provide the name of a repair shop that will repair your vehicle for the amount of the estimate. The repair shop the company suggests must not be an unreasonable distance from where you live.

I do not want to fix my car right now. Can they just pay me the repair amount?

Companies have differing policies regarding payment procedures. Your company may have policy language regarding whether it is necessary to repair your vehicle, or to make the draft payable to a lien holder or a body shop and the owner. If the other party's company is paying they are required to pay either the registered owner or the lien holder, or both. A direct payment to the owner who does not repair the car right away usually will not allow for any supplemental payments for undetected, additional damage.

Will company pay to replace items such as tires or batteries when they are damaged in an accident?

Yes. However, a company will not necessarily pay for 100 percent of the replacement cost of item including tires, batteries, or entire paint jobs. These items may be subject to a deduction for depreciation for the amount of time the item has been in use prior to the accident.

What happens if my loan was more than my insurance company says my car was worth?

Sometimes the value of a car is less than the balance on your car loan. There can be several reasons for this. Interest rate changes may have increased the amount of your loan. Rebates may not have applied to the purchase price, or poor maintenance of the auto may have reduced its value. The insurance company bases its payments on the actual cash value (ACV) of the car, not the amount of your loan. You may be able to purchase a special type of insurance, known as guaranteed auto protection (GAP), when you buy a car. GAP insurance covers the difference between the ACV and your loan balance.