You were involved in a car accident – and now there’s damage to your vehicle. What now? Unfortunately, accidents are inevitable. The good news is when it comes to car accidents, majority of insurance policies in New Jersey contain coverage for property damage to other vehicles. If the other driver caused the damage to your vehicle, you have the option to file a claim with the insurer for the owner of the other car (a “third party claim”). What this means is the responsible driver’s insurance company pays for the cost to repair your vehicle if the claim is approved.
The even better news is you also have the option to file a claim with your own insurance company, if you have the appropriate coverage (a “first party” claim). This applies when the responsible driver is uninsured or does not have insurance coverage for property damage. However, be mindful that in the case of a first party claim, you will be responsible to pay for any deductibles.
Keep in mind that for you to be able to file a “first party” claim, your policy must provide Collision or Comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage protects you from damage caused to your car by a collision with another vehicle, a fixed object, or an object lying in the roadway. On the other hand, comprehensive coverage protects you if your car is stolen or vandalized or damaged by contact with an animal or falling objects (i.e., tree limbs, rocks, stones, debris). It also covers your vehicle for glass breakage, fire, wind, hail, and flood damage.
- Important points to keep in mind when filing a first party claim:
- if you file a first party claim, your insurance company will either pay to repair the damages to your vehicle or pay you the value of your vehicle if the damages exceed the car’s worth. First, though, the company will subtract the deductible amount you have chosen for that coverage;
- your insurance company is allowed 30 calendar days to settle your first party claim from the time they receive notice of the loss. However, this time may be extended if the company needs to conduct additional investigation or if you fail to cooperate with them;
- the insurance company must provide you with written notice explaining the reason for the delay if the claim settlement process takes longer than 30 days; and
- when you file a first party claim, you have a direct contract with your insurer that requires the company to fulfill all the conditions stated in your policy. However, the contract also places duties and requirements on you, the insured, when filing a claim. Therefore, you need to review that section of your policy often called “Conditions” or “Insured’s Duties After a Loss.”
The state of New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance’s website provides additional information that may be helpful. Please see the link here.
Settling an automobile accident claim can be complex and nuanced. A personal injury lawyer is the best person to provide advice and guidance after a car accident. When you consult with our lawyers, we will gather additional evidence and provide accurate guidance for how to get the damages to your vehicle paid for.
If you were involved in an accident and have any questions or concerns, give our experienced attorneys a call at 732-490-1777.