Filing a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim
If you are involved in an automobile accident, there are some general rights and responsibilities you have as an insurance consumer.
- Who to Contact to File a Claim
- Claim Investigation Time Frames
- When a Motor Vehicle is Declared Totalled
- When a Motor Vehicle is to be Repaired
- Seeking Damages for Pain and Suffering
- Rental Motor Vehicles
- Sound Reproducing Equipment
- Motor Vehicle Accident Checklist
- Contact the Kansas Insurance Department
- When do I need a lawyer and how do I find one
- Contact your insurance company or agent/agency about any motor vehicle accident regardless of fault. You should notify the insurance agent or company while the details are fresh in your mind. If you report a claim by telephone, follow up in writing. Cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation.
- If you feel the other party is responsible for damages to your motor vehicle or other property, you will need to contact their insurance company or agent to file a claim.
- The insurance agent or company’s representative will be able to inform you of the proper procedure to take ... such as, whether to obtain estimates from local repair shops or from the insurance company’s claim representative.
- If you suffer any injuries and you are a titled owner of an insured motor vehicle, you should notify your own insurance company because your coverage under your Kansas No-Fault PIP benefits would be primary for any medical expenses incurred by you, regardless of fault.
- Be sure to keep good records of any communication with an insurance company during a claims process, including dates.
In Kansas, an insurance company has an obligation to investigate a filed claim, whether first or third party, within 30 days from when it was reported. If the insurance company needs additional time to conduct an investigation, it shall every 45 days thereafter send to the insured or claimant a letter setting forth the reasons additional time is needed to conclude the investigation. It is in the best interest of the insurance company to investigate any claim promptly so that valuable evidence is not lost or destroyed. However, there are no provisions requiring an insurance company to settle your claim within a certain period of time.
Kansas law provides for prompt, fair and equitable settlements when determining the fair retail market value of a damaged motor vehicle. If an insurance company decides a motor vehicle will cost more to repair than its fair retail market value, then they will declare it a total loss. When determining its fair retail market value or actual cash value (ACV), sources such as professional dealer association used car guides may be utilized.
- Estimates – Insurance companies do not have to settle a claim based on the highest estimate of repair. If a company believes the estimates are too high, they have the right to check with other repair facilities. The insurance company’s offer needs to cover the actual repair costs to restore the damaged motor vehicle to pre-loss condition. However, if they direct a claimant to a specific repair facility for actual repairs, they are giving an implied warranty on that repair facility’s workmanship.
- Repair – The insurance company can repair a vehicle with other than original manufactured parts, commonly referred to as After Market Parts. In addition, the company may also repair your vehicle with used or salvaged parts provided they are of like kind and quality.
If the insurance company decides to repair the damage to your motor vehicle, they should issue the claim settlement check in your name and not to the repair firm unless you signed an authorization for the repair firm’s name to also appear on the check. If it is a first party claim and a lienholder is named on your insurance policy, the insurance company should also include the lienholder’s name on the claim settlement check.
Pain and suffering lawsuits may be filed only under certain conditions. In Kansas, you are prohibited from seeking damages for pain and suffering under the at-fault party’s bodily injury coverage unless your medical bills are $2,000 or more, or unless the injury consists of one of the following:
- Permanent disfigurement
- A fracture to a weight bearing bone
- A compound, comminuted, displaced or compressed fracture
- Loss of a body part
- Permanent injury
- Permanent loss of bodily function
If you recover damages and there is any duplication of the payment your company made to you under the Personal Injury Protection benefits, you are responsible for reimbursement to your insurance company.
If you are in a motor vehicle accident and the other party is determined to be at fault or legally responsible for your damages, you are entitled to a rental motor vehicle or the reasonable compensation for loss of the use of your motor vehicle while it is being repaired. If the insurance company considers your motor vehicle a total loss, you may be entitled to reasonable compensation for the loss of the use of your motor vehicle. Once the insurance company establishes a fair retail market value or actual cash value of your motor vehicle and makes a reasonable loss settlement offer to you, then the insurance company may withdraw further payment for a rental motor vehicle.
If you are renting a motor vehicle from a rental car company, your insurance policy with your personal automobile insurance company may or may not automatically provide required liability insurance protection while you are driving the rental motor vehicle.
We suggest you get in writing from your insurance company and/or agent/agency that your insurance coverage under your personal policy of insurance extends to cover mandatory liability insurance protection while you are operating a rental motor vehicle. If not, we suggest you purchase such extended liability insurance protection from your insurance company or from the rental car company.
In addition, you would be responsible for any physical damage caused to a rental motor vehicle while in your possession. Again, determine and get in writing from your insurance company as to whether or not your insurance policy covers the physical damage of the rental car company’s owned vehicle while in your possession on a short term lease. If not, we suggest you purchase such coverage from your own insurance company or from the rental car company. The rental car company refers to their physical damage coverage as Collision Damage Waiver. Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive when purchasing it from the rental car company.
Sound reproduction equipment that is permanently installed in the opening of the dash or console for which the equipment was originally designed by the manufacturer is covered under Comprehensive coverage. You may be able to purchase, for an additional premium charge, coverage for customized sound reproduction equipment. If you have questions regarding the coverage provided by your insurance policy, contact your insurance agent/agency.
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can leave you feeling confused, shaken, angry, or scared. There are some things you can do at the accident scene to help you get a claim processed properly. We suggest you keep this list in the glove compartment of your motor vehicle(s) to assist you should you ever be involved in a motor vehicle accident.
In the event of a motor vehicle accident, you should always contact your insurance company or agent/agency first because many problems are resolved at that level. However, if you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the problem with any insurance company or agent, you may contact the Kansas Insurance Department at:
- Toll-free in Kansas: 1-800-432-2484
- Fax: 785-296-5806
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- File an On-line complaint against a company
Should it be necessary to file a written complaint with the Kansas Insurance Department, be sure to include the following information to speed processing of your inquiry:
- Include your name, address and daytime phone number
- State your case by giving a full explanation of the problem and what type of insurance is involved.
- Provide the name of the insurance company, policy number, or claim number.
- Supply copies of documentation you have to support your case.
- State what has been done to resolve your problem including who you have talked with and what you were told.
- Keep a copy of your letter to the Kansas Insurance Department for reference.
While the Kansas Insurance Department has recovered millions of dollars for Kansas consumers, the Department cannot force any insurance company to pay a claim if the company, in good faith, believes as a matter of law or fact, that it does not owe the money in question. You may wish to hire legal counsel if a company persists in denying what you believe is a valid claim.
See the Kansas Bar Association's Kansas Lawyer Referral Service for information, or call 1-800-928-3111.