Whenever you’re involved in an auto accident with another person, one of you will be found at fault for the accident. The at-fault driver is responsible for paying for the damages that they cause. This may mean the entire cost of repairs, or it could mean only the percentage of the damage that they were found responsible for, depending on the state, but they will ultimately be held liable.

In most cases, this means filing a claim with their insurance company and settling the damages. If both drivers are insured, they may both file claims against their own insurance policies in order to get the repairs completed. Once the claim has been settled, the not-at-fault insurer will seek reimbursement from the other company.

In some cases, however, the not-at-fault driver may choose to file the claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance. This has many benefits, but it’s not always the best choice in all situations. Deciding the best course of action will depend on the specifics of the situation, the types of coverages you carry and your own specific preferences.

Liability Determination Process

In order to file a claim with the other person’s insurance company, you need to ensure that you are not at fault for the damage. In most cases, liability must be determined by a licensed insurance adjuster. Some types of accidents are clear liability collisions, however, so the liability is obvious. For example, any accident involving a parked vehicle will always be the fault of the driver who hit that car. Similarly, all two-car rear-end accidents are the fault of the rearmost driver.

If the accident was not a clear liability collision, it’s a good idea to file a claim with your insurance company. Even if you’re found to be not at fault for the damage, having your insurer on your side will help aid in the investigation and ensure that the liability determination is fair. If you’re found to be not-at-fault, your insurance company will reimburse your deductible to you, so the other person’s coverage will ultimately pay for your damages anyway.

If the accident was a rear-end collision or parked car accident, you can proceed accordingly with filing the claim against the other person’s policy if you wish. There are pros and cons to both options, and different choices may be appropriate at different times depending on the circumstances surrounding the collision.

When to File With Another Insurance Company:

  • If you do not have collision coverage on your own vehicle
  • If you have a very high deductible on your own policy
  • If you need a rental car and your policy does not pay for a rental
  • If you want to be able to receive the settlement in cash to spend however you see fit
  • If you’re concerned about your rates increasing or losing a safe driving reward

Bear in mind when filing a claim against another person’s insurance company that your insurer will still most likely find out about the accident. Insurance companies all report claims to the same databases, so if your primary reason for filing a claim through the other party is evading a rate increase, there is no guarantee that you will be protected. Your auto insurance company may still increase your rates or retract a safe driving discount even if you do not file a claim with the other party.

When to File With Your Own Insurance Company:

  • You don’t mind paying your deductible up front and having it reimbursed
  • You need your repairs completed immediately
  • You want to deal with a single person, like your agent, for the entire claim
  • You’re concerned that there may be a liability dispute
  • You want to use your rental coverage to get a bigger rental car

Filing a claim with your own insurance company is usually the fastest way to get your vehicle repaired. In many cases, your insurer may be able to get your vehicle into the shop almost immediately after filing the claim. Your adjuster is also more likely to be your advocate throughout the claims process. Once the claim has been settled, your insurance company should pursue the other party to reimburse your deductible to you, so you should not be out that money for very long.

If you have the necessary coverages to get your vehicle repaired, you should seriously consider filing the claim with your insurance company. On the other hand, if you do not have the money to cover your deductible or do not carry collision coverage, filing with the other person’s insurance is a viable option.