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- Carry a set of cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares in your trunk to help alert traffic.
- Take a deep breath and stay calm.
- Check for injuries; call an ambulance when in doubt.
- Do not sign any document unless it's for the police or your insurance agent.
- Make immediate notes about the accident, including specific damages to all vehicles involved, witness information, etc.
- State Farm™ or a participating Select Service Repair Facility will provide you with an appraisal of damage.
- Only you can authorize repairs to your vehicle.
- Payment is based on a repair estimate using prices and labor rates which are competitive in your local area.
- You are free to select repairers who do not have agreements with State Farm. Not all repair facilities charge the same amount for vehicle repairs. Any additional payment will be based upon supplemental amounts agreed to by State Farm. You may be responsible for any amounts not agreed to by State Farm. This may include, but may not be limited to, storage fees and rental expenses.
- If at any time, you or your repairer, discovers additional damage, please contact your claim handler for additional consideration.
- If your car is deemed a , your claim payment will be based on the current market value of a car similar to yours, with adjustments for your car's condition
Your account includes a claim dashboard, so you can track your claim and take next steps 24/7.
Prefer to file your claim by phone?
Want to help make sure you recoup the full value lost in a car accident? Learn how to make this special kind of claim, courtesy of our friends at :
The point of car insurance is to make you whole again after an accident.
But no matter how expertly repaired, a car with an accident history will likely be worth less than one without–even if the car looks as good as new and runs better than it ever has.
A car that has never been in a  may be worth ,000 at resale but thousands less if it has been in an accident and repaired. There’s a way to make up the difference: a diminished value claim.
insurance claims allow car owners to recover the difference between a car’s pre-accident value and its value after repairs.
Don’t expect the insurance company to help.
Some car owners file on their own, but others hire a private company to document the lower value. If the insurance company resists, owners may have to take them to court.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” says , an attorney in Winter Park, Fla. “You have to put up a fight.”
If the accident was your fault, don’t expect to be able to claim diminished value against your own policy. Few states — and few insurance contracts — allow it. The same applies to cars that are flooded but not totaled out; you typically can’t file for diminished value against your own coverage.
But if someone hits your car, nearly every state allows diminished value claims from an at-fault party’s insurance company. Even if the person who hit you is uninsured, about half of the states allow diminished-value collection on your own uninsured motorist property damage coverage. (See “.”)
Even so, “just because state law allows a diminished value claim doesn’t mean insurers are required to pay it,” says CarInsurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner. “Don’t expect the process to be easy.”
For a successful claim, you’ll need an appraisal of the car’s value both before the accident and after the repairs have been done.
“In the majority of cases it’s considered the vehicle owner’s responsibility to prove their loss,” says Richard Hixenbaugh, owner of , a company that charges 0 to 0 to document a loss of value.
An appraisal is the first step to a successful claim, even if you don’t plan to sell the car, Hixenbaugh says. The diminished value is based on how much less money the car would be worth if you were to sell it.
That loss in value can come because repairs did not restore the car adequately — mismatched paint, for example — or simply because the car’s history is now tainted. About 70 percent of used cars are sold to dealers, Hixenbaugh says, who will look up the history of a car to see if it has been in an accident. So, too, will many private buyers.
“No one is going to offer you more money because your car was in a major accident,” Gusner says.
You can get a pre-accident private party value from online resources such as  or . Then you must document what your car is worth after the repairs have been done.
Fisher, the attorney, recommends getting a trade-in value letter from a car dealer stating that the lower value is due to previous damage done to the car, even though it has been repaired.
You will have to ask the other party’s insurance company to be compensated for the diminished value. You may have to ask more than once. (See “.”)
It’s a negotiation, Hixenbaugh says. Some insurers may maintain that there is no such thing as diminished value, or offer a token amount calculated by an industry formula.
Companies like Collision Claim Associates inspect cars, review repair documents, offer sample letters that drivers can submit to insurers, and advise owners on what to say to an insurer. About 75 percent of his company’s customers are successful in getting paid for their diminished value claim, though not always for the amount they’re seeking, he says.
Those unable to find satisfaction on their own or using an appraisal company may have to turn to the courts. Many claims may fall underneath your state’s small-claims threshold, allowing you to present your own case.
But for most people, the cost of an attorney doesn’t make sense, Fisher says, either because they’re driving older cars that are “rolling total losses” and aren’t worth much, or the claim is so small that it will get lost in legal fees. A car worth less than ,000 isn’t worth filing a claim on or hiring a lawyer for, he estimates.
An expensive or almost-new car, though, may be worth the effort.
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. The individuals interviewed in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services. LearnVest Planning Services and any third-parties listed, discussed, identified or otherwise appearing herein are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.
WARNING: THE ONLY PURPOSE THIS COMPANY HAS IS TO COLLECT PREMIUMS, AND NEVER PAY ANYTHING OUT TO CUSTOMERS! They have devoted themselves to perfecting the run-around, and leave people unprotected by the insurance policies they sell. In February of 2017 our parked van was hit by a driver who has State Farm insurance. At the time of the accident, my husband was walking out of a grocery store and saw a lady backing up her SUV into our parked Van. He started yelling "Stop9quot; and waving his arms. She was oblivious and continued backing up till she slammed right into the back of our Van. After hitting our Van she put her car into drive and started to pull away without even trying to see what she hit. My husband ran after her and stopped her. I came out of the grocery store, was told what was going on, and I obtained her information. She never said she was sorry. She admitted that she hit our vehicle.
Our Van is a 1984 Ford e350 Econoline, it is large, 6 feet tall and yellow. On a clear afternoon, if you cannot see our Van, you should not be driving. I called State Farm that afternoon and reported the accident. She called also and admitted that she was at fault, hit our vehicle which was parked with no one inside it. When I reported the accident, State Farm said that since it was her fault, and we were not even in our vehicle, they would take all responsibility for it and pay for the damage she caused. They informed me that I could choose from three repair garages and they would pay them directly for the repairs, OR I could send in pictures and receive a check with which I could obtain repairs on my own. We chose the second option.
I called a second time to find out how to submit pictures of the damage to my bumper and back door. I did what I was told and got no response. I called again and was told I had to use an "app9quot; on my phone to submit pictures for an estimate. I created an account with State Farm online and could log in and see the pictures I had loaded the first time as I was instructed. After using the "app9quot; to load pictures a second time and request an estimate, I waited 5 days and got no response. I called again and was told they were probably just busy and normally it only takes about 48 hours or less to get an estimate. I called again and was told that probably they never got the pictures or request for an estimate (even though I could log in and see the pictures I submitted on the State Farm Website).
So I was told, now 2 weeks after the accident that I could DRIVE my vehicle into town to a car dealership and have a State Farm Representative do an estimate on site and he could ISSUE a check to us right then and there. We took the Van into town the next day, my husband took the day off from work. The State Farm rep took pictures, asked questions etc, then he said "well since your van is an older vehicle and it already has some damage on it, I have to estimate the existing damage, then the damage our customer caused and send both figures into our adjusters. They will decide how much money you will receive." We drove away dismayed, and with 10 minutes I got an email from State Farm saying that our estimate amount was .00. The rep had just typed in 00 for existing damage and 00 for new damage, leaving zero to be paid, and that was it.
Obviously he just made up a number and typed it in both columns to leave us with nothing. When I called State Farm to complain, I was told that they don't have to pay for damage if the vehicle was already damaged. I asked him if it was ok then for people to just go around backing and slamming into vehicles as long as those vehicles were older or not perfect to begin with. He offered me 0, which I took at that point, NOT BECAUSE THAT AMOUNT WOULD FIX MY VEHICLE, but because I could not waste any more time dealing with this crooked company.
So the lesson is: if you drive a brand new ,000 car and someone backs into it, you might get the 00-00 it really costs to fix it. If however you can't afford a ,000 car and you drive a ,000 or ,000 car that means a lot to you and you rely on, you do not count, you do not deserve respect, insurance does not apply to you, you will be given the run-around, your time will be wasted, you will be told over and over by different people to do different things, ALL of which will result in you NOT receiving any funds to repair your vehicle, all designed to cause you to give up.
Though drivers should always exercise caution, auto accidents happen when least expected. In some cases, crashes can severely injure or kill occupants, as well as put drivers at legal risk. In 2011, the most recent year for which statewide data is available, 1,223 people drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians were killed in auto accidents, according to the
Knowing your responsibilities and rights, as well as preparing for the worst possibilities, can lessen driver's stress and worry after a wreck. Here are some steps drivers can follow to navigate the most common stages that take place after an auto accident.
New drivers and those who have recently bought a new car will want to purchase liability insurance from a provider before driving. In Georgia, customers must choose an insurance policy that, at minimum, protects the person from costs associated with one auto accident death, or injury or destruction of personal property totaling less than ,000. For accidents involving two deaths, the insurance policy has to cover up to ,000 in costs, according to a article.
Drivers should keep the policy in effect by making deductible payments on time. In Georgia, going for 10 days without auto insurance requires the state department of revenue to suspend the vehicle's registration, rendering the car illegal to drive. Not only is driving without a valid registration a misdemeanor, it can also result in a driver's car being impounded, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue's .
SafeAuto's website says that Georgia does not accept insurance cards as proof of a driver's policy. Instead, officers check insurance status through the . However, drivers should still keep vehicle registration paperwork, insurance cards and other documents in a secure location, such as the glove box, according to . Customers should also check with their insurance companies to make sure they're covered for common needs such as medical reimbursement, car rental and car repair.
It's important to remain calm and help law enforcement resolve the situation safely. First, check on the occupants of the other involved cars to determine whether anyone was injured. Call 911 and thoroughly describe the wreck, any medical needs and the location of the crash. If the vehicles involved are still operable, drivers are required by state law to move vehicles to a safe, nearby location off of the roadway, according to the .
Fear of higher premiums or insurance cancellation can make it tempting not to file a claim. Not filing, however, can increase your risk of losing a lawsuit if one arises, according to on Geico's website. It can also increase the chance that your insurance will not cover any medical expenses or repair bills associated with the accident.
As soon as possible after an accident, the State Bar of Georgia recommends that each party send a written notice detailing the accident and everyone involved. If someone in the other party contacts the driver with any bills associated with the accident, they should be sent to the insurance company and not be paid until fault is determined in the accident. If the driver's coverage is not enough to meet the amounted demanded in the other person's claim, he should contact his personal attorney for options, according to the state bar's website.
When someone reports an accident, companies send liability investigators, who are tasked with determining who is at fault in an accident and what damages and injuries are covered by their client's insurance, according to Liability investigators conduct lengthy interviews with drivers, passengers and witnesses to determine how much fault should be assigned to each party. They also consider police reports, admissions of fault and any charges given on scene. Once investigators complete their examination of the case, the insurance company will process the claim. That decision can be revisited if new information comes to light.
After investigators determine who is at fault, that driver's insurance will pay for property damages or medical bills. Regardless of fault, a driver who has collision insurance should be able to make repairs to her vehicle as long as she can affording the deductible, according to . Some insurance providers will recoup drivers' losses if the other driver does not have insurance, but there is no guarantee that person will be .
Once an accident is settled, drivers may still be left with some issues that need to be addressed. If traffic related charges required the Georgia Department of Driver Services to place on either driver's license, they may need more info on how to restore it. Drivers will also need to any court decisions, such as orders to serve community service hours or attend a driver's education school. Drivers and companies involved in accidents can appeal, as Dougherty Equipment Company did after one of their employees injured a Georgia woman . However, some appealed cases may only be heard at the higher court judge's discretion, according to , and appealing a case is no guarantee that the unsatisfied party will win.
After a car accident, the prospect of dealing with insurance adjusters and claim forms can be more stressful than the accident itself. Be patient and optimistic. Filing claims and waiting for decisions can be a battle of attrition, but in many cases the process is faster and smoother than you might think.
Set the stage for a successful claims process by also reading . Read on to find out more about the process and how to make it work for you.
Whether to file a claim after an accident depends on what kind of insurance coverage you carry and who is at fault. Here are some tips for three major scenarios:
Procedures vary depending on your insurance company and your state – if you have any questions ask your adjuster – but in general here’s how the claims process will work:
- Contact Your Insurance Company – Contact your agent or insurer to report the accident as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide the following information:
- Which covered vehicle was involved
- Location and time of the accident
- A basic description of the accident and the severity of the damage
- The name and insurance information of the other driver
- Names and contact information of others involved in the accident and witnesses
Take notes and write down the claim number you’re provided, plus the name and direct phone number of the person you talk to.
- File a police report – Your insurance company will request a police report number. If you did not get a police report at the scene, you can still go to a local police station to file a report.
- Follow up with insurance adjuster – The insurance company will assign an adjuster to your claim. The adjuster will most likely contact you for additional information. Stick to the facts and avoid speculation when describing what happened. Provide any photographs you took at the scene and the contact information of any witnesses. Remember that the conversation will be recorded and will be used when determining who was at fault. If you are filing a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company, you may want to contact an attorney before this step.
In addition to gathering information about the accident, the adjuster will either inspect the damage to your vehicle or will ask you to take the car to a certified repair shop that will perform the inspection.
- Evaluation – Your adjuster will consider and evaluate the facts and your policy, inspect the damage, and potentially make an initial payment.
- Resolution – The adjuster will authorize a final payment. You’ll sign a release, accepting the payment as payment in full for the case.
Who is at fault for an accident matters, since that driver’s applicable insurance coverage will be responsible for paying for any losses. Here are some important things to know about how fault is determined and allocated:
Adjusters will determine fault – Each insurance company’s adjuster will weigh the statements of each driver and any witnesses — plus the information in the police report and any other evidence — and make a determination of who is at fault for the accident. If the adjusters for each insurer come to different conclusions, the two insurance companies will communicate and try to come to an agreement. In the rare cases when they cannot agree, fault will be determined by a lawsuit in civil court.
Fault is sometimes shared – In many states . So if you are found to have contributed to the accident in even a small way, the amount you can recover from the other driver’s insurance company could be reduced proportionally.
Your insurance company will represent you in court – If you are at fault and you are sued by the other driver in a personal injury case, your insurance company will represent you in court and in any negotiations for a settlement.
You have to deal with the other driver’s insurance company if that driver is at fault – You may be able to get assistance and advice from your insurance broker or insurance company, but ultimately, you’ll file a claim with the other insurer and will get coverage under that driver’s policy.
You may want legal representation when the other driver is at fault – When injuries are severe, the other driver’s insurance company may be more reluctant to pay for some bills either in full or in a timely way. In these cases, you would need to obtain your own legal representation, but personal injury attorneys work on a commission basis, so you would not have to pay legal fees out of pocket.
Your insurance company will provide detailed instructions for getting your car repaired, but you need to be aware of the following important considerations:
Don’t fix anything before the adjuster’s inspection – The insurer will want to inspect the damage to the vehicle before authorizing repairs. The exception to this rule is when delaying a repair will cause the car to be damaged further. But even in these cases, discuss the short-term repairs with your insurance company first. Anything such as a broken sunroof that is letting in the weather, or a bumper/muffler dragging on the street, need to be fixed as soon as possible. Insurers often won’t pay for any damage that could have been prevented so follow these steps in such cases:
- Confirm with the insurer that such damage exists and the car needs immediate repair. They’ll likely give you specific instructions.
- Take pictures to document the damage that will be repaired.
- Let the shop know the nature of the work if they don’t already. They will confirm that the repairs were necessary to prevent further damage.
- Keep all receipts and documentation.
- Provide information and documentation to insurers as they request it.
You can choose your own repair shop – You’re never required to use the shop the insurance company recommends but there may be advantages in doing so.
- If more damage is exposed in the course of the repairs, the insurer will approve repairs faster at an authorized repair shop. Otherwise you may have to wait for additional inspections by the adjuster.
- The authorized shop will get paid directly by the insurance company (which is not always true when repairs are done elsewhere).
You don’t have to accept third-party parts – When there are cheaper sources of replacement parts than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), your insurance company may not be willing to pay for the more expensive option. While the insurer is not obligated to pay for the car to be repaired with OEM parts, they must give you the option to pay the extra cost to have your car repaired with original parts.
You can appeal the insurance company’s decisions – If you have concerns about how the insurer is handling your claim, you have many avenues of recourse:
- Contact your agent – If you purchased your insurance through an agent, that agent can act as an intermediary between you and the insurance company. You’re the agent’s customer, and in most cases they will be willing to assist.
- Contact the insurer – Most states require insurance companies to provide a way to appeal decisions. Ask the insurer to take your claim further up the ladder in the organization.
- Request an independent appraisal – Under the terms of most insurance policies, you have the right to an independent appraisal if you disagree with the insurance company’s valuation of a .
- Contact state regulators – If you’re unable to reach an agreement with the insurance company, you can file a complaint with your state’s insurance department or attorney general’s office. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners may have .
- Retain an attorney – You have the right to get legal representation to protect your rights and to represent you in disputes with an insurer.
It’s important to prioritize your health when getting medical care after a car accident. Consider the following as you seek medical treatment:
Get treatment immediately and as injuries become apparent – Don’t wait to get treatment after the accident or if aches and pains arrive later on. Car repairs can wait, but injuries require immediate treatment to avoid medical complications. Make sure all health care providers understand that your injuries are the result of a car accident. Provide them the auto insurance information for your policy and the other driver’s policy as well as any health insurance you have. Many health care providers will be willing to directly bill car insurance companies, but in some cases, you’ll need to submit the medical bills to the insurance company for reimbursement.
You can get help from an attorney for a liability claim – If you have serious injuries caused by another driver, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to represent you as you file a claim against the other driver’s liability policy. Personal injury attorneys provide initial consultations for free and will represent you on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if your claim is successful.
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According to State Farm, there were 1.23 million car accidents involving deer between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. This number is higher than many drivers would expect and doesn't include accidents with other types of animals.
If you live or drive in areas that are wooded or that regularly see deer or other wildlife on the road, you are subject to a collision with an animal. When this happens, there is only one driver to cover the expenses; so if you don't have comprehensive coverage, you'll find yourself stuck with all of the costs. Depending on the size of the animal, your speed at the time, and other factors, the accident could cause significant damage.
We'll review how you can ensure that your car insurance will help you pay for these expenses, should this type of incident occur.
Even though a car accident with wildlife is technically a collision, it is not covered by collision insurance. You will need  to pay for these types of accidents.
Comprehensive protection covers you for damages not resulting from collisions with other vehicles. This includes:
If you get into an accident covered by your comprehensive coverage, you'll be responsible for  and paying your  (the amount of money you'll be required to pay out of pocket). Once your deductible is paid, your car insurance company will pay your claim (up to the limits of your policy).
Remember, only comprehensive coverage will pay for this type of accident. You will not be protected if you only carry the required liability insurance or if, for example, you only elect collision coverage and not comprehensive.
If your vehicle sustains damages after hitting an animal, you'll need to decide whether or not it makes sense to file a claim.
For example, say you got into an accident with a deer and:
You would be protected under the same scenario, however, if the damage total was ,500. After paying the deductible, your auto insurance company would then pay the remaining 0.
When you consider whether to file a claim, think about the fact that your  may increase.
Unless you have , you might see a surcharge (or premium increase) after you file an accident claim. The rules governing increased rates for a comprehensive claim depend on your state and your insurance company. For clarification, check with your auto insurance agent.
If you know you'll see a surcharge for filing a claim against your car insurance, think hard about whether the payment you'll get will be worth the future costs. If you've only incurred a few hundred dollars worth of damage, you might be better off paying it out of pocket and avoiding increases in your car insurance rates.
When you're driving in areas that see deer or other wildlife, there are precautions you can take to prevent animal collisions. They include:
- Staying alert around dusk and dawn when deer are most active.
- Increasing your awareness during October and November, the two months with the highest number of car accidents involving deer.
- Slowing your speed in posted deer crossing areas.
Remember, if you see one deer, there are usually more hidden off to the side of the road.
- Low on NerdWallet’s car insurance company ratings compared with other large insurers.
- More complaints about auto insurance than the industry median. Mixed satisfaction ratings from car insurance customers.
- Financial strength rating is top-notch.
State Farm is the nation’s largest auto and home insurer and the eighth-largest life insurance company. Its agents sell only State Farm products. If you’re looking for a well-known brand name with a generous selection of products and consumer-friendly pricing, State Farm might be right for you.
State Farm ranked 19th of 21 insurers in NerdWallet’s rankings of the , with a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. NerdWallet’s rating is a score based on:
- J.D. Power ratings for claims satisfaction and customer service
- Consumer complaints against the insurer, based on data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
State Farm had greater than the median number of complaints to state regulators in 2015 for a company of its size for auto insurance, and fewer than the median number of complaints for homeowners and life insurance, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
- State Farm ranked “better than most” for overall purchase experience for auto insurance in J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study.
- It ranked “about average” for overall customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2016 Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study.
- In J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Home Insurance Study, State Farm ranked “about average” for overall customer satisfaction.
- State Farm ranked “better than most” for overall customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Property Insurance Claims Study.
- State Farm ranked first for overall satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2016 Life Insurance Study.
State Farm’s financial strength is “superior,” according to ratings agency A.M. Best. An insurer’s financial strength indicates how well it can pay claims.
State Farm’s rental car and travel expenses coverage is superior to its competition’s. Not only does State Farm auto insurance pay for a rental car if yours is in the shop due to a covered collision, but it also pays for meals, lodging and transportation if you’re stranded more than 50 miles from home. Coverage limits apply and vary by state.
Drive Safe & Save: This usage-based program calculates discounts based on your mileage and “safe driving” measurements such as smooth acceleration and braking. It also considers risk factors such as speed and time of day. You’ll get an initial discount of up to 5% when you sign up, and up to 50% once State Farm has calculated your discount based on your driving behavior. Availability and discounts may vary.
The Steer Clear Driver Program is a driver training refresher course available online, through an agent or via mobile app. State Farm offers savings of up to 15% for drivers under 25 who complete the course and have had no at-fault accidents or moving violations within the past three years.
State Farm’s homeowners insurance claims network is available 24 hours a day, online or by phone.
The Premier Service Program puts you in touch with qualified contractors who can make repairs included in your policy. The service providers guarantee their work for up to five years. Premier Service is free, but it’s not available everywhere.
Select Term Life Insurance: Policies are available for 10, 20 or 30 years, depending on your age, up to 75. Coverage amounts start at 0,000.
Instant Answer Term Life: ,000 of life insurance is available for people ages 16 to 45, lasting until age 50 or 10 years after the policy is issued, whichever is later. State Farm doesn’t require a medical exam, but you’ll have to fill out a health questionnaire, and your answers may disqualify you.
Mortgage Life policies can help pay off your mortgage if you die. You can buy ,000 or more in coverage for a policy lasting 15 or 30 years, depending on your age, up to 60. Like your mortgage balance, the death benefit decreases over the life of the policy, but it will never fall below 20% of the original value, while premiums remain level.
State Farm also offers whole life, universal life and variable universal life, which are varieties of permanent life insurance.
Website: State Farm’s website is intuitive, easy to navigate and loaded with useful information. You can get a quote and buy a policy online, find a nearby agent or manage a claim.
Pocket Agent mobile app: State Farm’s customer app lets you view your insurance card and policy information, get a quote, submit a claim online and view a claim status. It even has an ATM locator.
State Farm also has mobile apps for two of its auto insurance programs: the Steer Clear program for drivers under 25 and the Drive Safe & Save program that tracks driving behavior.