Dealing with property damage insurance claims after a motor vehicle accident that takes place in Massachusetts can be overwhelming and confusing. The questions of which party caused the accident, whether it was based on negligence, and what kind of insurance policies both drivers have are all taken into consideration. A basic understanding of policy limits, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage can be immensely helpful in the event of an accident. If you are involved in an accident, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney immediately. Without legal representation, knowing your rights and interpreting certain information may be a challenge. For example, the insurance adjuster may present a damage repair estimate that is much different than the one you have obtained. Understanding the legal aspects of motor vehicle accidents and property damage is essential to protecting your rights and obtaining compensation if the other driver is at fault.
Understanding Policy Limits
When damage to your vehicle is a result of another driver’s negligence, it can be covered only up to the policy limit of that driver’s insurance coverage. Their insurance company is only required to pay out the amount available in the plan they have chosen. If the damage is less than their policy offers, the other driver’s insurer will send a check for the full amount of damages determined by estimates and property worth. However, if the damage exceeds the amount their plan covers, you will have to examine your own policy’s collision coverage to determine if the difference will be covered.
Understanding Collision Coverage
With collision coverage, your insurance policy will cover the amount of damage to your vehicle (minus the deductible) regardless of who was liable. However, the amount may not exceed policy limits. In order to use your collision coverage to subsidize the difference between the damage amount and the other driver’s property damage coverage, your collision coverage must exceed the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage. This only applies to auto insurance. If a building was damaged, such as a garage or home, your homeowner’s insurance policy would determine how to proceed.
Understanding Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive coverage refers only to parked cars that have been damaged in some way. As with collision coverage, the eligible amount cannot exceed the policy limits or be greater than the negligent driver’s available property damage coverage.
Tips for Obtaining Estimates
When obtaining an estimate of repair expenses for the damage to your vehicle, it is vital to find a qualified repair shop with high standards. Always check with more than one repair shop to be sure the estimate is accurate. The estimate should be as detailed as possible, as it is the foundation of your claim. If you find the insurance company is slow in obtaining its own estimate, you may choose to proceed with repairs based on one of your own estimates and ask for subsequent reimbursement. However, having an attorney becomes especially important under these circumstances.
How to Proceed When the Insurer Disputes Your Property Damage Estimate
In the event of an adjuster disputing the amount of your estimate, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer to assist with negotiations. Be sure to exchange copies of all written estimates from both sides. The following factors may be considered:
- Unrealistic Estimates – When the insurance company’s estimate originated from an adjuster rather than a qualified auto repair professional, you may contest the value as potentially incompetent.
- Incomplete Estimates – If the insurance company’s estimate is from a repair shop, it should be exhaustive, with thorough, itemized parts and labor expenses. If it is presented as a general procedure for any kind of similar vehicle, it should be appealed as incomplete.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Advocates for Car Accident Victims
If you have been involved in an auto accident and need help with insurance claim negotiations, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. At Altman & Altman, LLP our legal team has extensive knowledge of property damage claims. We will evaluate your particular situation and help you determine the best way to move forward. Serving the greater Boston area and all of Massachusetts, we have offices in Boston, Cambridge, and Salem. Contact us today for a free consultation.