Fill your glass with iced tea, slather on some sunscreen, and get comfortable in your favorite patio chair. The Gerstner Law Blog is here to bring you joy some summertime joy. In this post, we’re going to be discussing filing claims on your own insurance policy.
It happens frequently. I’ll meet with somebody who’s been injured in a car crash. We’ll go over the facts of the auto accident, talk about the injuries, and weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the case. I’ll then ask about the person’s own car insurance policy. When I ask, the client will look taken aback at first, then lean forward and ask me in an accusatory fashion, “Why should my insurance company need to be involved?” To which I respond, “Why not?”
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, you can buy different coverages to protect yourself, such as uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and medical payment coverage. We call these first-party coverages. These coverages are important, because they cover you if you’re hurt in a car accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have adequate third-party coverage like liability insurance to pay your damages. Of course, your insurance company is not providing these coverages for free. You’re paying a separate premium for each coverage.
Despite paying for first-party coverage, many people balk at making a claim on their own insurance policies after being injured. From what I’ve gathered, there are several reasons for the hesitancy.
First, people are worried that their premiums will rise if they make a claim on their first-party coverage. Fortunately, Montana law prohibits insurance companies from doing that. Under § 33-18-210(12), MCA, a car insurance company may not raise a consumer’s premiums “because of a claim submitted under the insured's policy if the insured was not at fault.” In other words, if you’re not to blame for causing the car crash, the insurance company cannot raise your rates if you file a claim.
Another reason that some people are hesitant is because they have a sense of loyalty to their insurance company. Perhaps the injured person has a great relationship with his insurance agent. Or maybe the person had a good experience with a previous claim made on his home or auto policy. These are wonderful things. I hope you all are friends with your insurance agents and are treated properly when you make claims.
However, at the end of the day, you’re paying money in exchange for your first-party coverages. The insurance company is agreeing to take on the risk of possible claims in exchange for payment of your premium. The insurer won’t take it personally if you file a claim. It understood the risk of it happening when it issued you the policy.
In sum, there’s no reason to be hesitant about filing a claim under your own auto insurance policies if you’ve been injured in a car crash. If you’re not at fault, the insurance company cannot raise your rates simply because of the claim. In addition, you paid for the coverage. When people are waffling on filing a claim, I pose the following question: If you don’t want to make a claim with your own insurance company, why did you purchase the first-party coverages in the first place? You paid for the coverage, and you shouldn’t feel bad about using the coverage when you need it. They sold it to you so that you could use it if you’re hurt in a car crash.
If you’ve been injured and have questions about any applicable insurance, you need to speak to a personal injury attorney. Sometimes other insurance limits need to be exhausted before you can recover from your policy. In addition, your own policies sometimes interact with another person’s policies that may also cover you following the auto accident. It can get complicated. Contact Gerstner Law and allow us to evaluate your situation.