Insurance Law/auto accident

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Question
My family is on vacation in new mexico, we were hit by a car that crossed the median on icy roads. My car is a total loss, but I only have liability ins. Will the insurance company for the other driver pay for the loss of my car? (My car is registered in PA. Other drivers car registered in AZ)

Answer
David,

I am sorry to hear of your accident ... especially while you are are on vacation.

AZ does require insurance for drivers and vehicles registered in that state, however the state mandated minimum is only $10,000 for property damage and $15,000 for bodily injury. If there were any physical injuries to anyone in your vehicle, you may have to retain an attorney to help. Depending on the financial resources of the other driver, they may have higher limits than the state-mandated minimums. Keep in mind that you are NOT limited in recovery to the amounts they had in insurance. Ultimately, the person who caused the accident is liable for ALL the damages and insurance is only there to protect THEIR assets up to the levels they held. If your damages are greater than that, you will have to get a judgement against them in court and try to execute against that.

You should immediately file a claim against the policy held by the other driver to start the process. (Don't wait for them to file the claim.)

Keep in mind that their insurance company has NO duty to deal WITH YOU in good faith. That duty only extends to their contractual relationship with their own insured. All they are required to pay will be the ACTUAL CASH VALUE of your vehicle. That means that it is the DEPRECIATED amount or MARKET VALUE and NOT what you think the car is worth or even what the full payoff is if you have a note against it. A brand new car will depreciate $5,000 the second it crosses the curb driving it off the lot.

If you had full coverage on your vehicle (generally required if you have a note on it), you MAY have what is known as "Under-insured motorist" coverage which would step in and fill in any gaps in the amount of your recovery. Your policy may also provide for other coverages like a rental car, towing, etc. It may be better for you to file on your own policy and then let them fight it out with the other insurance company under the principle of "subrogation". They would try to recover as much as possible and may even get a percentage of your own deductible back as well. You may want to contact your agent and let him know what happened. Even if you don't have full coverage, there is no need to be paying for insurance on a car that is totaled. You may get a refund on your own premiums from the time of the accident to the end of the policy period.

Best of luck ... hope this helps.


Kevin Hromas
JD, EGA, RPA, PLCS, CPIU, HCRI-R/C, WIND® Umpire/Appraiser
Kevin Hromas & Associates
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Kevin Hromas

Expertise

I am a licensed, executive general adjuster currently holding a Texas resident P&C license (614250), New Mexico non-resident all lines license (248774), Oklahoma non-resident P/F/M license (A299561), Florida non-resident P&C license (E117051) and a National Flood Insurance Program certification (06040100). My areas of expertise involve property and casualty issues in both residential and commercial policies with regards to claims practices and issues. I deal extensively with Lloyd's of London commercial policies and various domestic carriers for residential policies.

Experience

After a 20 year career as a General Contractor, I was employed by Allstate Insurance as an adjuster in Texas, holding various postitions within the property claims department. After leaving Allstate, I specialized in handling losses associated with major catastrophes through-out the country. (Hurricanes Isabel, Charlie, Wilma, Katrina, Ike, etc., hail storms, floods.) I am currently retained as an expert by multiple insurance defense firms in Texas for issues in litigation. I am also a certified Umpire for formal appraisals.

Organizations
Member - Society of Registered Professional Adjusters Fellow - Council on Litigation Management Member - Property and Casualty Association Member - Texas Independent Insurances Adjusters Association Member - National Association of independent Insurance Adjusters Member - Houston Claims Association

Publications
Claims Magazine (www.ClaimsMag.com and then search 'Kevin Hromas' for a full listing of articles and quotes.) www.ClaimsPages.com, www.ProAdjuster.org, www.KevinHromas.com

Education/Credentials
JD - University of Houston Law Center - 1992 BA - Southwest Texas State University - 1980 AA - South Plains College - 1977 PLCS - Personal Lines Coverage Specialist

Past/Present Clients
Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, Fulbright & Jaworski (Law Firm), Bracket & Ellis (Law Firm) Thamm & O'Briant (Law Firm) Sheehy, Ware & Pappas (Law Firm) Walker, Wilcox and Matousek (Law Firm) Financial Guarantee Underwriters

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