How Insurance Companies Determine Who is At Fault in a Collision

Insurance companies generally use one of two methods when dealing with car insurance claims. These two methods are no-fault insurance and tort insurance. Each state implements their own laws, so it is a good idea to check which method your particular state follows. Let’s review both methods so that you, as a consumer, are aware of your rights should you become involved in an auto accident. An insurer specializing in high-risk drivers (drivers who have had convictions or policy cancellations, or even inexperienced drivers, or drivers who were found at-fault) may be assigned to you.

No fault car insurance pays for the insured’s loss regardless of which driver has been deemed responsible for the collision. The insured’s insurance company will pay the claim even if the other driver caused the accident. This is the simplest form of auto insurance, from the adjuster’s point of view.

With tort insurance, blame is always assigned; this can be to one driver or to both. The blame can be assigned anywhere from 0 to 100% for either or both driver. ‘Tort’ refers to a civil wrong that has been acted upon against another. In order to come to this conclusion, the claims adjuster must review several factors. One of the most important items in a claim is the police report. Adjusters rely heavily on this information. This being said, just because you are charged by the police for an accident, this doesn’t mean that the insurance company will apply full blame to you. As well, if you aren’t charged by the police, the insurance company could still assign blame to you. The role of each driver is taken into consideration as well as their level of negligence involved.

The insurance adjuster will assess the scene and interview several witnesses to help piece together exactly what happened. Insurance company adjusters also have a series of scenarios that they use to match up to what happened. If they cannot find one that matches, they may split the blame. These scenarios do not take into account weather or road conditions, the point of impact of the vehicles, nor the actions of any pedestrians who may have been at the scene.

When you are shopping for auto insurance, always check how an at-fault collision will affect your premiums. Also, keep in mind that if you lend your vehicle to someone else and they are involved in an at-fault collision, your premiums can still be affected, because you are actually lending your insurance as well. If you disagree with the adjuster's decision, you may take further action. Knowing the difference between the two classifications can help you in future claims.

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