James McKiernan Lawyers
courthouse

Call Us First!

888.442.2918
freeway

Auto Accidents

Successful Results Achieved in
Over 15,000 Auto Accident Cases

Learn more
road

Motorcycle Accidents

Largest Motorcycle Accident Injury Verdicts
in San Luis Obispo County

road

Truck Accidents

Even Professional Drivers Can Cause an Accident

hospital

Serious Injury

Over $200 Million Recovered in
Settlements and Verdicts for Victims

field

Dog Bites

Resolving Cases Quickly, Efficiently, so that You
Can Focus on Your Recovery

cemetery

Death Cases

Offering Support, Assistance and Representation
After the Tragic Loss of a Loved One

FAQs

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?

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.

Back to Top

Do I have to purchase auto insurance if I own a vehicle?

If you drive a vehicle in the USA or Canada, the law requires you to have auto insurance coverage.

Back to Top

What is the main reason for requiring auto insurance?

Auto insurance provides drivers with peace of mind, as well as financial security if they are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Back to Top

Will my insurance company cover me if someone else sues me?

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.

Back to Top

What are the main types of auto insurance?

The three main kinds of auto insurance include comprehensive coverage, collision coverage and liability coverage.

Back to Top

What is comprehensive 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.

Back to Top

What is collision coverage?

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.

Back to Top

What is liability coverage?

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.

Back to Top

How do I know the minimum amount of liability insurance required?

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.

Back to Top

What kind of optional coverage can I choose?

You may have many insurance options above your minimum required policy. These include collision insurance, family protection coverage, transportation replacement, etc.

Back to Top

Do I have to pay a minimum amount of comprehensive or collision coverage?

No, since the only type of insurance that is mandatory in most states is liability, there is no minimum for comprehensive or collision coverage.

Back to Top

Do I have to purchase auto insurance if I lease a car?

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.

Back to Top

What is a premium?

The yearly fee that you pay for your insurance policy is called a premium.

Back to Top

What is a deductible?

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.

Back to Top

Can my insurance company cancel my auto policy?

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.

Back to Top

What should I do if feel my insurance company has cancelled my policy unfairly?

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.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

What should I do if I have an accident with an uninsured motorist?

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.

Back to Top

What will uninsured motorist coverage cover?

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.

Back to Top

Will my insurance policy cover other people if they drive my car?

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.

Back to Top

Why do I have to list all household members, even if they do not ever drive my car?

You must list all residents of your household who are old enough to drive in order to protect you and your insurance provider.

Back to Top

Which individuals are considered family members?

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.

Back to Top

Which household members do not need to be included on my policy?

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.

Back to Top

Will my auto policy cover me if I rent a car?

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.

Back to Top

Will my spouse’s or children’s accident records affect my ability to purchase car insurance?

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.

Back to Top

Can my company refuse to renew my policy if I have too many claims?

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.

Back to Top

What happens if I forget to include some information on my driving record?

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.

Back to Top

What does actual cash value mean?

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.

Back to Top

What does replacement cost coverage mean?

Replacement cost coverage equals the cost of a new vehicle with no depreciation.

Back to Top

What factors affect my auto insurance rates?

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.

Back to Top

How do companies determine auto insurance rates?

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.

Back to Top

Why are the rates so different for different insurance providers?

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.

Back to Top

Will my policy automatically increase after I file a claim?

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.

Back to Top

What is a high-risk driver?

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

Back to Top

Can my insurance provider cancel my policy if I am a high-risk driver?

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.

Back to Top

Will I lose my safe driving discount if I file a claim?

If you are found at fault in a motor vehicle accident, you will most likely lose your safe driving discount.

Back to Top

Do I have to file a police report if my vehicle is stolen?

You should always file a police report if your vehicle is ever stolen or damaged.

Back to Top
<h2>Do I have to file a state motor vehicle report?

This is required by certain states, so you need to check with your insurance provider to see if it’s required in your area.

Back to Top

Will my insurance provider investigate any cases of potential fraud?

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.

Back to Top

What is no-fault insurance?

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.

Back to Top

What is medical payments coverage?

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.

Back to Top

What is bodily injury liability coverage?

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.

Back to Top

What is personal injury protection?

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.

Back to Top

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?

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.

Back to Top

How long will my claim take to process?

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.

Back to Top

How long will it take to recover my deductible?

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.

Back to Top

Will my policy cover any property stolen from my vehicle?

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.

Back to Top

What should I do if law enforcement recovers my stolen vehicle?

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.

Back to Top

What should I do if my vehicle is totaled?

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.

Back to Top

Who will pay the remainder of my loan if my vehicle is totaled?

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.

Back to Top

Who is responsible for any lost wages if I cannot continue working?

Lost wage reimbursement varies depending on your particular state and the type of coverage you purchased. Therefore, you should contact your claims representative.

Back to Top

What happens if I am involved in an accident in another state?

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.

Back to Top

Will my policy cover the cost of renting a vehicle while my vehicle is getting repairs?

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.

Back to Top

How do I know which representative will handle my claim?

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.

Back to Top

Can I purchase auto insurance if I have a learner’s permit?

Yes. In fact, you must purchase auto insurance regardless of the current status of your license.

Back to Top

Can I purchase auto insurance if I have a foreign or conditional license?

Yes, you can purchase auto insurance for any type of license, including a foreign or conditional one.

Back to Top

How will I know the actual salvage value if my car is totaled?

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.

Back to Top

What are the most inexpensive cars to insure?

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.

Back to Top

How can I find the insurance records for the previous owner of a car?

You should contact your state department of insurance to inquire about their specific disclosure laws.

Back to Top

How much will the cheapest car insurance cost?

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.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

How does an insurance company define a sports car?

This depends on the particular insurance company. They take into account factors such as the horsepower, stock and modifications made to a vehicle.

Back to Top

What happens to my auto insurance if I am charged with a DUI offence?

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.

Back to Top

Does my auto insurance policy have to contain the same name as my car loan?

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.

Back to Top

Which states are no-fault states?

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.

Back to Top

Can I insure another person’s car?

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.

Back to Top

Will my auto insurance cover my relatives who have international driver’s permits?

Your insurance policy will cover them if you choose to add them to your auto insurance policy when they visit and drive your car.

Back to Top

Who is responsible for a mistake on my insurance forms?

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.

Back to Top

How can I lower my insurance premiums?

You can lower your premiums by keeping a clean driving record, maintaining consistent coverage and taking a defensive driving or driver improvement course.

Back to Top

What is a declarations page?

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.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

What will happen to me if I choose to drive without car insurance?

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.

Back to Top

What is a high risk driver?

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.

Back to Top

What does assigned risk mean?

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.

Back to Top

What does an assessable policy mean?

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.

Back to Top

Am I eligible for any kind of discount on my insurance policy?

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.

Back to Top

Will it cost more if I choose to pay my premiums on a quarterly or monthly basis?

Most companies charge an administrative fee to pay your premiums quarterly or monthly, rather than annually. You should check with your particular insurance provider.

Back to Top

What is split-limit liability car coverage?

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.

Back to Top

What is single-limit liability car coverage?

Single-limit liability car coverage gives only 1 number that is the maximum coverage for property damage and bodily injury together.

Back to Top

Should I bother purchasing collision coverage if I own an older vehicle?

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.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

What happens if I am in an accident while driving someone else’s car?

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.

Back to Top

Will my auto insurance policy cover a rental truck that I use to move my personal property?

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.

Back to Top

What is gap insurance?

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.

Back to Top

Will my auto insurance policy cover me if I use my car in a car pool?

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.

Back to Top

Will my auto insurance policy be valid if I drive in Canada?

Most American auto insurance policies will provide coverage if you drive in Canada, as long as you bring proof of insurance with you.

Back to Top

Is my auto insurance policy valid if I drive in Mexico?

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.

Back to Top

Will I receive a refund if the insurance company cancels my policy?

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.

Back to Top

Does my insurance company have to advise me why they have cancelled or refused to renew my policy?

Yes, all insurance companies must advise their clients of the specific reasons regarding cancellation or non-renewal

Back to Top

Can my insurance company cancel my policy in the middle of a term?

Yes, your insurance company can cancel your policy any time as long as they provide you with sufficient notice and a valid reason.

Back to Top

Can my insurance company perform a credit check on me?

Your insurance company can only perform a credit check if you have signed an authorization form permitting them to do so.

Back to Top

What is depreciation?

Depreciation is how much the value of your car decreases over time because of wear and tear.

Back to Top

Will the amount of depreciation of my vehicle affect my coverage?

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.

Back to Top

If I am in an accident with a driver who has out-of-state insurance, where do I file a claim?

You should check with your insurance company and file a claim as if the other party was from your state.

Back to Top

How many estimates does an insurance company require?

This depends on the company. Some companies require 3 estimates, but others use estimates provided by internal claims adjusters.

Back to Top

What should I do if my company adjuster misses some information on my repair estimate?

You can challenge the estimate by advising your company adjuster immediately that the damage estimate is incomplete.

Back to Top

What is the responsibility of my insurance agent in the claims process?

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.

Back to Top

Will I receive a grace period for payment of my premium?

Most insurance companies will offer a minimum 15-day grace period to pay your premium before they cancel your policy.

Back to Top

form-button
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Google Analytics Alternative