Car Insurance Claim FAQ's
Do I have to Give a Statement to an Insurance Company When I Have Been Injured in an Accident?
No, you are never required to talk to anyone after an accident except for a police officer regardless of who they represent.
After you have been injured in a car accident, there may be numerous people trying to talk to you. This is the point where issues of fault for an accident and issues of financial compensation arise, and insurance companies begin to fight it out to see who has to pay for the accident.
Every insurance company’s self interest lies in trying to both avoid responsibility for the accident as well as minimize the amount that they will be required to pay as their profit motive depends on it. As a result, insurance companies will try to get the parties to an accident on the record in the hopes that it will help minimize their financial responsibility when it comes time to pay. Your interests and those of an insurance company are not always the same.
While these questions may appear harmless to you at the time, you never know how an insurance company will try to use your answers against you at a later date. The other driver’s insurance company may be trying to pass themselves off as your friend and their questions may seem inoffensive, but they know exactly what they are doing and they are not your friend in any way. Instead, they are the company that is trying to keep you from getting every penny that you deserve as a result of your injuries because it means that the money comes from their account.
Know that you never have to speak to an insurance company after your accident and it is generally a bad idea to do so. Your own insurance company will not require you to give a statement, but you should consider telling them your side of what happened so they can go to bat for you when it comes to determining liability. Let your personal injury attorney handle communications for you and do not attempt to speak with the insurance company after an accident. Do the bare minimum, which includes sending a letter of notification to the insurance and most of all, never ever admit fault for the accident.
When Does my Car Insurance Need to Pay for my Injuries When Another Person is at Fault?
Your car insurance will need to pay when the other driver is uninsured or underinsured or fault is being litigated.
Illinois law requires that motorists have a certain minimum amount of auto insurance when they own a vehicle. However, the insurance requirements are relatively low and drivers may have bare bones auto insurance policies that only provide for limited amounts of coverage in the event of an accident. Alternatively, some drivers may be breaking the law when they get behind the wheel of a car and may have no insurance whatsoever. You can never assume that every driver on the road is adequately insured.
When either of these two occurrences happen, you are not unprotected because your auto insurance will have to compensate you for your injuries. It is not your fault that the other driver either did not have enough insurance or had not insurance at all and you should not suffer because of it. Illinois law (215 ILCS 5/143a) requires that you are protected if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist because you will have uninsured and underinsured coverage. The law dictates that you are compensated no matter what since you do not control the fact of whether the other driver has insurance, and you will receive payment if you have followed the law.
If you have been injured in a car accident, medical bills may begin to pile up immediately after the accident and they must be paid. Your auto insurance company may pay these bills while liability for the accident is still being determined and the other driver’s insurance company may be withholding payment. Until the other driver is found to be at fault, their insurance company is not obligated to pay anything. If you are ultimately determined to be at fault for the accident, it will be your insurance company who is on the hook for your medical bills. However, if the other driver is found liable, your insurance company will be reimbursed for what they have spent on your medical bills.
What Does it Mean if the Driver at Fault for the Accident has “Full Coverage”?
On its own, this does not mean much until you learn all of the details of their coverage.
Illinois law dictates certain minimum requirements for auto insurance policies for state drivers. However, you may be surprised to learn that these minimum requirements are actually quite small. In many instances, these are nowhere near enough to fully compensate you for the injuries that you have suffered, including your lost earnings and medical bills. Therefore, full coverage may not mean much until you learn the actual amounts of the insurance policy.
For example, in Illinois, the bare minimum in an auto policy is $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident. In reality, this is quite small and certainly not enough to cover the costs of an injury, especially when the harm is more substantial. Even the costs of surgery for a fractured limb can approach six figures. Drivers may not have an incentive to have insurance beyond the bare minimum, especially if they do not have any assets that could be at risk in an auto accident lawsuit. Thus, you may be looking at a large amount of damages that may not be covered by the other driver’s insurance as they are above the policy limits.
While it seems unfair, you could be facing severe financial difficulties as a result of a car accident that was not your fault. This can be avoided by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage that can fill the gap when you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. You should resist the temptation of saving a few dollars by having a minimum amount of coverage in this area. You never quite know when you can be saddled with massive bills because you have been involved in a Chicago car accident with another driver who was trying to save money on their insurance. What is considered full coverage for purposes of following Illinois law may not be full coverage for the purposes of paying you what you deserve and, if that happens, you will be out of luck without adequate coverage of your own.
Is Car Insurance Required in Illinois?
Yes, auto insurance is a requirement for all Illinois drivers, but the amount of required coverage is quite small.
All Illinois drivers must purchase car insurance. Illinois law prescribes minimum coverage that you must have in several different categories. However, as you will see, these required minimums are quite small and you are at risk of not receiving a payment large enough to compensate you for your injuries. Specifically, Illinois requires the follow amount of minimum coverage:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $20,000 property damage liability
- $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $25,000/$50,000 underinsured motorist coverage
Every Illinois driver must have proof that they are insured. Failure to provide proof of insurance will result in a fine so this means that you should have a physical card to show just in case your mobile device runs out of power. If you are caught driving without insurance in Illinois, you can face a large fine and your license plate can be suspended for up to four months, meaning that you are effectively prevented from driving. The minimum amount of fine for driving uninsured is $500.
If you do not carry auto insurance, an even bigger consequence is that your assets are at risk in a lawsuit. If you are in an accident and you do not have insurance to pay for the damage, the other driver can come after you personally, which means being able to take practically everything but your home, subject to only a few limitations. At the same time, if you are in an accident with an underinsured driver, you will have to rely on your own insurance coverage to make up for the shortfall.
What Does it Mean if Your Health Insurance Provider has Subrogation Rights When it Comes to Your Auto Accident Claim?
Subrogation is the right of the health insurance company to be paid back for what they already paid on your behalf if you receive compensation from the other driver.
You may be disappointed to know that when you receive a Chicago car accident injury settlement, not all of it may end up in your bank account. There are others who may rightfully and legally have a claim to receive part of your settlement of jury award. This is on account of money that they are already paid out on your behalf. This is called the right of subrogation and it is something that someone else possesses as a condition of a contract that you have already signed.
While this may seem unfair, it makes perfect legal sense. The most common type of claimant who possesses the right of subrogation will be your health insurance company. When you sign your insurance policy and legally agree to it, one of the terms and conditions of the policy is the right of subrogation. This means that they can be paid back out of your settlement. If the health insurance were to pay money on your behalf and were not to be paid back, you would be receiving a windfall.
In Illinois, the health insurance’s right of subrogation is not unlimited. There is a state law that mandates that the insurance company reduce their subrogation claim if the amount of the settlement means that you would be receiving nothing after the health insurance company was paid. Also, if your settlement is reduced due to the fact that you were partially at fault for your injuries, then the health insurance must reduce the size of their claim. In addition, when the medical insurance exercises their right to subrogation, they must pay for their share of your attorney’s fees. A Chicago car accident attorney will be able to explain to you in greater detail how subrogation works and will work to protect your rights to the maximum extent possible.
What are Some Reasons That an Auto Insurance Company may Deny Your Claims for Medical Bills or Property Damage After Your Illinois Car Accident?
The insurance company may either be uncertain as to who was responsible for the accident or they may think that you are not fully following their rules.
If you are at fault for your accident, you will not be able to recover from insurance. In Illinois, your recovery is barred if you are anything more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. (735 ILCS 5/2-1116). If you have filed a claim and the insurance company is not paying it, they may believe that you are at fault for the accident. Alternatively, they may think that you are at least partially responsible and they have not yet settled the issue of liability with the other driver’s insurance company.
Another reason for claim denial is procedural. It could be that the insurance company thinks that you are not following their rules for properly reporting a claim. Your policy sets forth procedures and timeframes that you must follow when reporting an accident. Perhaps you did not submit the claim in the required time period or you reported it incorrectly. In any event, insurance companies are sticklers for their own rules, especially when it comes to them paying out money.
Alternatively, the insurance company may not believe your claim or your side of the story. If an insurance thinks that you may have made a false statement, they will often deny your claim. Another reason for claim denial is that your insurance company may believe that you are seeking excessive damages. When it comes to dealing with an insurance company, you are often at a disadvantage because they have an army of an attorneys on their side and are looking for a reason to deny or reduce your claim. This is why you are best off with an attorney of your own when you are filing an auto insurance claim because your attorney will know whether the reason that the insurance company is denying your claim is legitimate or if it is red tape meant to make it more difficult to receive proper compensation. The attorney will also help you properly file your claim to avoid some of the common pitfalls.