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Question
I was wondering about the possibility of appealing a settlement offer from an insurance company.

I was involved in an accident Oct. 19 in Massachusetts where the other party drifted into my lane and impacted the side of my car. When we pulled over to the side of the road, the driver of the other car admitted guilt to myself and my passenger. He said he was not paying attention to the road because of his GPS unit and was not familiar with the area, which caused him to drift. I filed an "accident report" with the police department, but no official police statement or report.

Upon filing a claim with his insurance company, I discovered that he claimed I had drifted into his lane - he didn't know what happened and felt a bump from me. This is where things become less clear. I was under the impression he was blaming me for the accident. After an investigation, he was determined to be 50% at fault and his insurance company (Travelers) would pay 50% of my claim estimate.

Travelers then filed a liability claim with my insurance (Geico) and Geico decided to investigate as well. The representatives from both companies talked, and I was determined by Geico to be not at fault and they denied the claim from Travelers. This is because my adjusted from Geico said that the other party admitted they didn't know what happened and felt a bump. Never saying that I was at fault.

I am looking to see if it is possible to appeal the decision that Travelers made to hopefully get my car's repairs fully paid for without going through my insurance company as my deductible is $1000 and the estimated repair cost was about $950, which would be slightly higher with supplements and car rental. Would it be possible to appeal Traveler's settlement to get more money? And if so, should I not cash the check that they have sent me so far?

If an appeal is not possible, would it be possible to file a small claim against the driver or owner of the vehicle? They are a father and son, and the son admitted to having several accidents already. The vehicle was registered and insured under the father - NOT the driver. Thanks!

Answer
 Hello John,

Unless evidence proves otherwise, insurance companies are obligated to believe their insureds.  This is why accident scenarios such as what you have described are difficult to assess.  More often than not, this type of an accident is determined to be a 50-50 situation, at least when the liability carrier is involved, or when the two companies negotiate.

No, it is not possible to appeal a liability decision.  This is what claim adjusters do.  The only realistic exception would involve a serious-injury accident where litigation ensued and the final determination was up to a judge or jury.

It would be very unwise to pursue this in small claims court.  The insurance companies have presumably investigated and have determined liability.  I'm not an attorney, but under the circumstances I cannot see where you have what would be constituted as a loss from a court's point of view.  And, of course the insurance company would defend their position - probably successfully.

It does not matter who was actually driving as both are apparently covered under the policy.  And, liability in your accident has no bearing on the driver's prior driving record.  

With a $1000 deductible, you are probably better off accepting the liability payment (including damages, supplements pro-rated car rental).

Sorry for the bad news.

Jane Pytel

http://InsuranceExpertAdvice.com
http://SolutionsForYourInsuranceClaim.com
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Jane Pytel

Expertise

I can answer questions related to auto accidents, auto damage, auto theft claims, or personal injury claims. I am specifically suited to answer questions concerning insurance investigations and the effects of those investigations such as claim delays, claim denials, examinations under oath, or the special investigations unit. I can answer most any question that relates to proper claims investigations, or claims handling procedures and processes. I have authored several ebooks which provide claim guidance for consumers. Those books are available on Amazon Kindle: Power To Profit - will provide you with the knowledge you need to overcome the patterned obstacles that insurance companies will use to delay, devalue, or deny your valid insurance claim. The No Nonsense Guide to Accident Settlement - Teaches you how to manage your claim, how to identify the precise tactics likely to be used against you, and how you must respond.

Experience

12 years of experience with 3 major insurance companies. I hold an all lines adjusters license in Florida. I am well versed in claims handling, claims investigations, and industry standards related to both. The bulk of my experience stems from my 10 years as a police officer / detective. Building on that investigative experience, I became an SIU (Special Investigations Unit) Investigator. Accordingly, my unique expertise lies in the investigation of claims. What is necessary and related, what is not necessary and related? What constitutes a fair claims investigation? What recourse is available for consumers who suspect they are experiencing unfair claims delays? During the course of my experience, I became a certified trainer, instructing adjusters and investigators proper techniques for claims investigation and claims handling.

Education/Credentials
B.A., Communications, University of Miami 350 credit hours of intense investigative training, Miami Dade Police 80 hours of investigative training, various Federal Agencies, Miami, Fl Intensive Accident Reconstruction and Pedestrian Injury Analysis, NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, Oklahoma City, OK 2 weeks Auto Damage Appraisal, Winston Salem, NC Legal Principles Claim Specialist, AEI

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