Auto insurance is insurance that covers most forms of loss, injury or damage resulting from the operation of a vehicle. Owning a vehicle is one of the most important aspects of modern society. Car ownership or access is required for nearly all activity unless someone lives in a large city. Across the nation, it is required by law that a person purchases and keeps current insurance for their vehicle. All states require that a person's insurance is up to certain minimum standards in the event of a loss. Minimums are set by the laws of the state that a person lives in. For Georgia residents, the minimums are at least $25,000 of coverage person injured, and at least $50,000 per accident for liability insurance coverage.
Like any type of insurance, auto insurance is meant to serve as a means to cover the loss of a person's automobile, or damage to the automobile, or injuries to the person. There are several different types, including specific insurance for specialized types of vehicles such as motorcycles, boats, and the like, however, most vehicles fall under the blanket of "auto insurance."
The two main types of auto insurance that come into play in many wrecks are liability coverage and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Liability coverage covers you when you cause injury or damage to someone else or their automobile. But uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage covers you when someone else causes injury or damage to you, but they either don't have insurance or they don't have enough insurance to cover your injuries and damage. We always tell clients to buy plenty of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage because you just can;t count on others to have enough insurance.
Common Sources of Auto Insurance Claims
There are a number of reasons to file an insurance claim. Some common sources of claims can include:
- Accidents: Car accidents are the most common cause for a person to file a claim with their insurance. After an accident, a person will obtain a police report, and their insurance company will use this to pay out an amount that they deem appropriate for the claim.
- Vandalism: At times simple acts of vandalism can cause tremendous damage to a person's car. Regardless of the vandal's motivation, smashed windows, spray paint, tire slashing and the like all fall under acts of vandalism. Similar to an accident, it may be necessary to obtain a police report for any acts of deliberate vandalism in order for a claim to be filed.
- Theft: Auto theft is a complete loss of a car, as cars are rarely found, and if so they are often found in much worse condition than a person left them during the time of the theft. Auto insurance policies often offer theft coverage as part of their package.
- Storm Damage: Just like damage to a house from a storm, sometimes a person has no control over whether or not their vehicle will suffer damage in a storm. This can occur if a tree falls on the car, or through things like hail damage or flooding. These are often covered under an auto insurance policy as well, and a person may make a claim after these incidents arise.
- Poor Repairs: One seldom thought of the source of claims is damage to a car from a poor repair job at a shop or dealership. This may be covered under a person's policy as well.
Reasons to Dispute an Auto Insurance Claim
While most insurance companies will be willing to provide fair settlements for a claim, sometimes they may not pay as much as was initially agreed upon. Insurance companies may attempt to evaluate a person's claim in order to pay out the minimum they can for a claim. This can sometimes lead to a dispute of the claim between the insured person and the insurance company. Some common causes for these disputes can include:
- Value Disputes: One of the most common reasons a claim can fall into dispute is over the value of the property lost or damaged in the incident. For cars, this matter can be especially difficult, as damage, even after repairs are made, can cause a car's value to depreciate. At times, however, an insurance company may provide an unreasonable amount of vehicle depreciation, which can be the source of dispute of a vehicle's value.
- Coverage Limit Disputes: Sometimes policies impose limitations on what can be covered. Certain acts of either individuals or nature can become the source of a dispute when an insurance company refuses to pay out based on them.
- Gap Coverage Disputes: In rare circumstances, individuals may have a gap in their coverage, due to payments or other unfortunately timed incidents. If a claim arises during a gap in coverage, the insurance company may refuse to pay it.
- "Bad Faith" Insurance Disputes: An insurance company that acts in bad faith may be the cause of a dispute. Insurance companies are required to act in good faith with claims and pay based on applicable law and the agreed upon terms of the insurance policy.
Disputing an Auto Insurance Claim
When a dispute arises over an auto insurance claim, it can be difficult to pursue. Insurance companies often want their policyholders to accept whatever amount they are offered. While these claims are often initially reasonable, disputes over values of vehicles or coverage for a loss can become frustrating scenarios. Sometimes, a policyholder is entitled to much more than what their insurance company offers.
Will My Case Go To Court?
Sometimes, insurance disputes may proceed to litigation. This can be a difficult process. If neither side can agree the matter may be left to judge and jury. Litigation often follows a negotiation period. An attorney can help an individual gain a better settlement to their claim, or take the matter to court.
Georgia Auto Insurance Dispute Attorney
If you or a loved one is involved in an auto insurance dispute in Georgia, contact us today.