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Florida motor vehicle property damage claims: Part two, your insurance

Read the second article of a two part series on recovering compensation for property damage after a car accident in Florida.
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    December 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- If you did not purchase the right coverage -- which is most commonly referred to as "collision" coverage -- you may have no rights whatsoever to recover from your own insurer for your property damage.

If you did purchase collision coverage, or a similar coverage, your rights are defined by the terms of the policy. As a practical matter, most policies that include collision coverage pay for either of the following:
- If your vehicle was damaged, but was not a total loss, the cost to repair your vehicle (If you have rental coverage, a rental is usually provided while you are without your vehicle during the repair process)
- If your vehicle is considered a total loss, the insurer will actually purchase the vehicle from you and you will be paid the fair market value of the vehicle before the crash, including tax and registration fees

Making a claim against your own insurance versus against the at-fault driver and owner

There are a couple of major differences in connection with a claim under your own policy as opposed to a claim against the at-fault driver and owner. Your rights to recover under your own policy, if you purchased collision coverage, are broader in some respects, but narrower in others.

They are broader due to the fact that you can recover from your own insurer regardless of whether you were at fault or the other driver was at fault. (Don't worry about your insurer having to pay when the other party was at fault -- this is explained in more detail below in regard to the claims process.)

Your rights against your own insurer are narrower in that in most circumstances (1) you do not get to recover for the diminished value of a wrecked vehicle that is fixed, and (2) you do not necessarily get loss of use damages. In regard to the latter, you can, however, receive a rental if you purchased rental coverage (and in most cases rental coverage is a separate coverage with a separate premium). Your claim against your own insurer would be subject to your deductible as well.

Subrogation and the repair process

If the other party is at fault and you choose to go through your own insurance company to resolve your property damage claim, your own company will gain a "right of subrogation" which means it can stand in your shoes for purposes of recovering the money it had to pay out. So don't worry about your insurer paying -- it will get its money back and likely has a subrogation department dedicated to doing so. It should also recover your deductible on your behalf and pay you that money once it makes a recovery.

Whether you go through your own insurer or the adverse party's insurer, the process is very similar. An appraiser or field adjuster will inspect your car to prepare an estimate of the damage to make an initial determination regarding the amount of the damage and whether or not the vehicle is a total loss. If not, the insurer will typically pay a reputable body shop directly to perform the repairs. Sometimes, the repairs cost more money than originally anticipated and, if so, the insurer should pay for the additional charges.

For more information, speak to a Florida car accident attorney

Remember, the best resource to answer your questions and help you pursue your claim is a Florida motor vehicle accident lawyer. Get in touch with an attorney today to ensure you receive the maximum recovery to which you are entitled.

Article provided by Steven Wingo, Attorney at Law
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