Auto Accident FAQs
Our San Luis Obispo Car Accident Lawyers Answer Frequently Asked Questions
After a traffic collision, you may have many questions about what happened and what you should do. In these situations, it helps to
talk to people who have answers. Below, our lawyers provide some of these answers. Read through our frequently asked questions to become more informed before you are in an accident or to get some of the answers you are looking for after a crash. The San Luis Obispo car accident lawyers of James McKiernan Lawyers are
here for you. Give us a call today for help with the motor vehicle accident claims process.
- What is auto insurance?
- Do I have to purchase auto insurance if I own a vehicle?
- What is the main reason for requiring auto insurance?
- Will my insurance company cover me if I someone else sues me?
- What are the main types of auto insurance?
- What is comprehensive coverage?
- What is collision coverage?
- What is liability coverage?
- How do I know the minimum amount of liability insurance required?
- What kind of optional coverage can I choose?
- Do I have to pay a minimum amount of comprehensive or collision coverage?
- Do I have to purchase auto insurance if I lease a car?
- What is a premium?
- What is a deductible?
- Can my insurance company cancel my auto policy?
- What should I do if feel my insurance company has cancelled my policy unfairly?
- What should I do if I do not receive a satisfactory response about the unfair cancellation of my policy from the consumer affairs division?
- If I contact my insurance company to verify whether my policy covers a loss, can they record this as a claim, even if I do not receive any money from the insurer?
- What should I do if I have an accident with an uninsured motorist?
- What will uninsured motorist coverage cover?
- Will my insurance policy cover other people if they drive my car?
- Why do I have to list all household members, even if they do not ever drive my car?
- Which individuals are considered family members?
- Which household members do not need to be included on my policy?
- Will my auto policy cover me if I rent a car?
- Will my spouse’s or children’s accident records affect my ability to purchase car insurance?
- Can my company refuse to renew my policy if I have too many claims?
- What happens if I forget to include some information on my driving record?
- What does actual cash value mean?
- What does replacement cost coverage mean?
- What factors affect my auto insurance rates?
- How do companies determine auto insurance rates?
- Why are the rates so different for different insurance providers?
- Will my policy automatically increase after I file a claim?
- What is a high-risk driver?
- Can my insurance provider cancel my policy if I am a high-risk driver?
- Will I lose my safe driving discount if I file a claim?
- Do I have to file a police report if my vehicle is stolen?
- Do I have to file a state motor vehicle report?
- Will my insurance provider investigate any cases of potential fraud?
- What is no-fault insurance?
- What is medical payments coverage?
- What is bodily injury liability coverage?
- What is personal injury protection?
- What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
- How long will my claim take to process?
- How long will it take to recover my deductible?
- Will my policy cover any property stolen from my vehicle?
- What should I do if law enforcement recovers my stolen vehicle?
- What should I do if my vehicle is totaled?
- Who will pay the remainder of my loan if my vehicle is totaled?
- Who is responsible for any lost wages if I cannot continue working?
- What happens if I am in an accident in another state?
- Will my policy cover the cost of renting a vehicle while my vehicle is getting repairs?
- How do I know which representative will handle my claim?
- Can I purchase auto insurance if I have a learner’s permit?
- Can I purchase auto insurance if I have a foreign or conditional license?
- How will I know the actual salvage value if my car is totaled?
- What are the most inexpensive cars to insure?
- How can I find the insurance records for the previous owner of a car?
- How much will the cheapest car insurance cost?
- Will my insurance cover the cost to replace a cloudy and pitted windshield if I purchased complete glass coverage?
- How does an insurance company define a sports car?
- What happens to my auto insurance if I am charged with a DUI offence?
- Does my auto insurance policy have to contain the same name as my car loan?
- Which states are no-fault states?
- Can I insure another person’s car?
- Will my auto insurance cover my relatives who have international driver’s permits?
- Who is responsible for a mistake on my insurance forms?
- How can I lower my insurance premiums?
- What is a declarations page?
- Why do I have a harder time obtaining auto insurance if drivers in my household have a bad driving record?
- What will happen to me if I choose to drive without car insurance?
- What is a high risk driver?
- What does assigned risk mean?
- What does an assessable policy mean?
- Am I eligible for any kind of discount on my insurance policy?
- Will it cost more if I choose to pay my premiums on a quarterly or monthly basis?
- What is split-limit liability car coverage?
- What is single-limit liability car coverage?
- Should I bother purchasing collision coverage if I own an older vehicle?
- If I sustain injuries in an auto accident as a pedestrian, will bodily injury liability still apply?
- What happens if I am in an accident while driving someone else’s car?
- Will my auto insurance policy cover a rental truck that I use to move my personal property?
- What is gap insurance?
- Will my auto insurance policy cover me if I use my car in a car pool?
- Will my auto insurance policy be valid if I drive in Canada?
- Will my auto insurance policy be valid if I drive in Mexico?
- Will I receive a refund if the insurance company cancels my policy?
- Does my insurance company have to advise me why they have cancelled or refused to renew my policy?
- Can my insurance company cancel my policy in the middle of a term?
- Can my insurance company perform a credit check on me?
- What is depreciation?
- Will the amount of depreciation of my vehicle affect my coverage?
- If I am in an accident with a driver who has out-of-state insurance, where do I file a claim?
- How many estimates does an insurance company require?
- What should I do if my company adjuster misses some information on my repair estimate?
- What is the responsibility of my insurance agent in the claims process?
- Will I receive a grace period for payment of my premium?
Drivers purchase auto insurance for vehicles such as trucks or cars to protect them from losses such as car accidents, personal liability, car accident medical bills, car theft, and property damage.
If you drive a vehicle in the USA or Canada, the law requires you to have auto insurance coverage.
Auto insurance provides drivers with peace of mind, as well as financial security if they are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Your insurance company will cover you up to the amount specified in your liability insurance if you or another individual driving your car ends up injuring someone or causing property damage.
The three main kinds of auto insurance include comprehensive coverage, collision coverage and liability coverage.
This type of car insurance covers any damages to your car that are not the result of the actions of other drivers. This may include damage from fire, storms, floods, hail, theft, collision with an animal and/or vandalism.
This type of insurance covers any physical damage to your vehicle that occurs as a result of a collision including hitting another vehicle or an object such as a light post.
Almost every state requires drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance, though the limits differ according to where you live. This type of insurance covers any losses that you might cause to an individual or to someone’s property.
Although all drivers require a minimum amount of liability insurance, the amount varies from state to state. Therefore, you need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or your insurance provider to find out the exact amount in your area.
You may have many insurance options above your minimum required policy. These include collision insurance, family protection coverage, transportation replacement, etc.
No, since the only type of insurance that is mandatory in most states is liability, there is no minimum for comprehensive or collision coverage.
Yes, you must purchase liability insurance if you lease a car. Your lender or auto dealer will also require that you purchase collision and comprehensive coverage.
The yearly fee that you pay for your insurance policy is called a premium.
A deductible is the partial amount of a loss you have to pay before your insurance company is responsible for paying any claim filed under your policy. For example, if your covered claim is $4000 and your deductible is $1000, you will pay $1000 and your insurance provider will pay the remaining $3000.
Yes, if you fail to pay your premium or if your license has been revoked or suspended during the term of the policy, your company can cancel your policy.
If your insurance provider never provided a reason for the cancellation or you disagree with the reasons indicated, you should contact the consumer affairs division of your insurance company.
What should I do if I do not receive a satisfactory response about the unfair cancellation of my policy from the consumer affairs division?
In this case, we suggest you contact your state insurance department to discuss the issue.
If I contact my insurance company to verify whether my policy covers a loss, can they record this as a claim, even if I do not receive any money from the insurer?
Yes, your auto insurance company records every claim.
The first thing you should do is to contact the Department of Revenue in your particular state. They enforce the local liability laws, and they will perform an investigation of the car accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you from hit-and-run drivers, and it will cover you for any injuries you sustain while driving or as a pedestrian. It applies to bodily injury only and will not cover any damage to your vehicle.
Your insurance policy generally covers any person who has permission to drive your car. This is why you should list any individuals who regularly drive your vehicle on your policy.
You must list all residents of your household who are old enough to drive in order to protect you and your insurance provider.
Generally, for car insurance purposes, “family members” include any extended or immediate family members who are of legal driving age, including parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, foster children, in-laws and step family members. You should check with your particular insurance provider for an exact list.
You do not need to list any roommates who are not family members and do not drive your vehicle or any non-family household residents who do not drive your vehicle.
Generally, rental car coverage is only offered if you rent a car while you are on vacation. You should always contact your insurance company to specify the details of rental coverage.
Unfortunately, the driving record of any licensed driver who lives in your household will affect your ability to receive car insurance. You may be turned down for coverage or be required to pay high-risk insurance premiums.
Yes, your insurance company can refuse you if you have made as little as one claim, regardless of the dollar amount. However, your insurance provider is required to give you 30-days’ notice and an exact reason why there are refusing to renew your policy.
Your provider will verify all your claims and driving records before issuing your policy. The insurance company also bases their quotes on the information you submitted. If you notify your provider of the omission, your insurance premium will be adjusted to reflect your actual driving record.
Because there are so many used vehicles on the road, every auto policy is written for actual cash value or ACV. This means that the values of your auto settlement are determined by similar vehicles currently on the market. ACV is based on the cost to replace your vehicle with similar new one, minus the depreciation based on the age of your vehicle.
Replacement cost coverage equals the cost of a new vehicle with no depreciation.
Many difference factors can affect your rate, including the age, make and model of your vehicle, the purpose of your vehicle, where you drive it, your credit rating and your driving record.
They compile statistical history to determine the current rates for auto insurance. The rates are based on the amount of money necessary to pay for all company business expenses and claims.
The rates differ because of many factors including the varying costs of doing business for each particular company and the different claims experience. Companies base current information on their experience dealing with past claims in your area.
Your first claim will not necessarily affect your claim. This depends on many factors including the laws and regulations in your state, the length of time you have had insurance and your particular policy. You should inquire about details with your auto insurance provider.
High-risk drivers are ones who file numerous claims within a short period of time, take intentional risks such as car racing or speeding or who cause an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances
Yes, your insurance company may decide to cancel or non-renew your policy if you are considered a high-risk driver. This depends on the laws in your particular state.
If you are found at fault in a motor vehicle accident, you will most likely lose your safe driving discount.
You should always file a police report if your vehicle is ever stolen or damaged.
This is required by certain states, so you need to check with your insurance provider to see if it’s required in your area.
Yes, your insurance company will attempt to identify and address any possible fraudulent claims. Therefore, you should contact your company immediately if you suspect fraud.
No-fault insurance will pay for the injuries and property damage caused to yourself, up to a specified limit indicated in your policy. This type of insurance varies according to each state, so you should check with your insurance company for details.
This type of insurance protects you, any covered family members and covered passengers. It will pay for required medical treatments relating to any bodily injuries caused by an auto accident, regardless of who was responsible.
This type of insurance protects you from any liability claims resulting from car accidents that were caused by you and injure another individual. Your policy will cover you and any family members listed on your policy who are driving your vehicle or another person’s vehicle with their permission.
Personal injury protection or PIP covers you or any covered passengers or family members for bodily injury resulting from an auto accident, regardless of who is responsible. PIP covers necessary expenses such as child care, funeral, medical and hospital. You should always consult your insurance provider, since PIP coverage is not available in every state.
This type of insurance generally covers any damages caused to you or your property by another driver who does not have any auto insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to cover the damages.
The length of time required to complete each claim depends on many different factors including the number of parties involved in a car crash and the severity of the damage. You can contact your claims representative to get a better idea of the approximate timeframe you face.
Your insurance provider may attempt to recover your deductible from the driver responsible for your car accident. The length of time required depends on several factors including whether a collection agency or attorney is necessary, the person responsible has insurance and everyone agrees on the facts concerning the automobile accident.
This depends on exactly what was stolen from your vehicle and whether you chose to purchase optional coverage. Certain items such as sports equipment may be covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, rather than your car insurance.
If the police contact you to advise you that that recovered your vehicle, request a brief description of any damage to your vehicle and then contact your claims representative immediately.
There are many factors to consider regarding whether to declare a vehicle a complete loss or repair it. These include the age of your vehicle, the laws in your state, as well as the type and extent of the damage. If the estimated cost of repairs is higher than the worth of your vehicle, your insurance provider will pay you the actual cash value of your vehicle up to the amount specified in your policy, minus your deductible.
Your insurance company will pay the actual cash value of your vehicle for any covered losses up to the limit specified in your policy, minus your deductible. You will most likely be responsible for the remainder of the loan in excess of the amount of your claim settlement.
Lost wage reimbursement varies depending on your particular state and the type of coverage you purchased. Therefore, you should contact your claims representative.
Your insurance provider will usually be able to handle your claim in the state where the car accident occurred. If it is not convenient to have your vehicle inspected in that state, your insurance provider can arrange for a local inspection.
Your auto insurance policy will cover the cost of renting a vehicle up to the limit specified in your policy if you chose to purchase rental reimbursement coverage.
Different claims representatives specialize in different types of claims, so they will be assigned to your case based on the facts of your particular situation.
Yes. In fact, you must purchase auto insurance regardless of the current status of your license.
Yes, you can purchase auto insurance for any type of license, including a foreign or conditional one.
You can contact a local salvage yard to get an estimate of the value. A reasonable estimate is usually 15 to 20% of the retail value of your vehicle at the time of the motor vehicle accident.
The 10 least expensive cars to insure are a Buick LeSabre, Oldsmobile Silhouette, Honda Odyssey, Buick Park Avenue, Pontiac Montana, Mercury Grand Marquis, Buick Century, Chevrolet Venture, GMC Safari and Oldsmobile Bravada.
You should contact your state department of insurance to inquire about their specific disclosure laws.
The amount of insurance you must have depends on many different factors, including the state you live in, your claims history, your credit score and your driving record.
Will my insurance cover the cost to replace a cloudy and pitted windshield if I purchased complete glass coverage?
This depends on your insurance provider. The cost may be covered, but any spider cracks will definitely be covered if you have chosen to purchase complete glass coverage.
This depends on the particular insurance company. They take into account factors such as the horsepower, stock and modifications made to a vehicle.
You will most likely lose your auto insurance coverage if you face drinking and driving charges. However, you should inquire with your particular insurance company as the policy varies.
Most insurance companies require that the name of the registered car owner is on the policy. However, certain companies may issue policies to someone who does own the vehicle.
Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah, as well as Puerto Rico, all offer some form of no-fault insurance. You should inquire with your particular insurance provider regarding details.
Yes, you can choose to insure someone else’s property if you have authorization to do so or you have an insurable interest in that property.
Your insurance policy will cover them if you choose to add them to your auto insurance policy when they visit and drive your car.
This depends on your particular insurance provider. However, most auto insurance companies allow a grace period of 15 to 30 days for adding a new vehicle. If your policy was cancelled or has expired, you may not quality for coverage.
You can lower your premiums by keeping a clean driving record, maintaining consistent coverage and taking a defensive driving or driver improvement course.
A declarations page is a report your insurance provider must issue to you. It indicates your coverage, limits, drivers insured, cost of coverage and vehicles covered.
Why do I have a harder time obtaining auto insurance if drivers in my household have a bad driving record?
Many insurance companies will not insure you or will not offer you a preferred rate if you live with a family member with a poor driving record. However, some companies will exclude this person from your insurance policy, so you should check with your insurance provider.
You will be subject to penalties according to the particular laws in your state if you are caught driving without proper car insurance or you are involved in a car wreck without any insurance. The penalties could include a loss of driving privileges or fines.
A high risk driver is one who has received many tickets, been involved in multiple auto accidents or who was charged with driving under the influence. Young, inexperienced drivers may also be classified as high risk.
Most states have an assigned risk plan established to ensure that all drivers will be able to receive coverage. Insurance companies must still insure high risk drivers, but the company may charge these drivers a much higher rate.
This means that you can be charged or assessed an additional amount if your particular insurance company experiences a bad year with many expensive motor vehicle accidents. Most auto insurance policies are non-assessable.
You should check with your auto insurance provider because many companies offer discounts for insuring multiple vehicles, low mileage, anti-lock brakes, non-smokers, accident free driving records, security and safety devices or driver education courses.
Most companies charge an administrative fee to pay your premiums quarterly or monthly, rather than annually. You should check with your particular insurance provider.
Split-limit coverage uses 3 different numbers to specify the limits for bodily injury liability for each person, property damage liability and bodily injury liability for a single accident.
Single-limit liability car coverage gives only 1 number that is the maximum coverage for property damage and bodily injury together.
You may be able to save money by eliminating collision coverage from your insurance policy if you own an older vehicle that is not worth much. You should check with your insurance provider to find out how you can save.
If I sustain injuries in an auto accident as a pedestrian, will bodily injury liability still apply?
Yes, bodily injury liability will pay for any losses resulting from another driver. If someone hits you with their vehicle, their bodily liability insurance will pay for your expenses.
The car owner’s auto insurance policy should cover your damages in these circumstances. Therefore, he/she should contact the insurance company to file a claim.
Your car insurance policy may cover you if the vehicle is a pickup or van. However, you will need to purchase additional coverage from the rental company if you wish to rent a truck.
Gap insurance provides coverage if your car is a total loss, and it pays for the gap between the actual cash value of your car at the time of the accident and the amount due under the lease.
Yes, your auto insurance policy will cover you if you operate a non-profit-making car pool where drivers take turns driving and receive reimbursement for their expenses from the other drivers.
Most American auto insurance policies will provide coverage if you drive in Canada, as long as you bring proof of insurance with you.
You should check with your insurance provider because traffic laws in Mexico are very different from those in Canada and the US. You may require specific Mexican coverage.
You will be entitled to a refund of the unused portion of your premium if your auto insurance policy is cancelled before expiration of the time you have paid premiums.
Yes, all insurance companies must advise their clients of the specific reasons regarding cancellation or non-renewal
Yes, your insurance company can cancel your policy any time as long as they provide you with sufficient notice and a valid reason.
Your insurance company can only perform a credit check if you have signed an authorization form permitting them to do so.
Depreciation is how much the value of your car decreases over time because of wear and tear.
Yes, your insurance provider will pay you less if you are driving an older car with a lot of mileage that is totaled in a car crash.
You should check with your insurance company and file a claim as if the other party was from your state.
This depends on the company. Some companies require 3 estimates, but others use estimates provided by internal claims adjusters.
You can challenge the estimate by advising your company adjuster immediately that the damage estimate is incomplete.
This depends on your particular insurance company. Some agents merely service as a resource to refer to you to a claims representative, whereas others may complete the initial paperwork for your claim.
Most insurance companies will offer a minimum 15-day grace period to pay your premium before they cancel your policy.