In a perfect world, we would not need insurance because we would never have any accidents. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a wonderful place. If you have never been involved in an automobile accident, you may not be familiar with the process of making an insurance claim. Though we hope you never have to go through this process, understanding what to expect if you do can be helpful.
Illinois Fault-Based Insurance
When it comes to automobile accidents, Illinois is a fault-based state. This means that whoever is legally at fault for the accident is responsible for paying those individuals injured by the accident. Usually, this means that the at-fault party’s insurance carrier will pay for the damages. An individual involved in an accident caused by another driver has three options:
- 1. File a claim with his or her own insurance company, which will then pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company;
- 2. Pursue a claim directly with the at-fault party’s insurance company; or
- 3. File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Pursuing Insurance Claims
Usually, automobile accidents involve claims with insurance companies. The requirements on automobile insurance are codified under the Illinois Insurance Code. After a claim is filed, a claims adjuster will be assigned to the case. The adjuster may contact the insured person to obtain more information about the accident. In addition, the adjuster may do the following:
- 1. Request a copy of the police report;
- 2. Contact the other driver involved in the accident;
- 3. Contact any known witnesses to the accident;
- 4. Inspect the car for damages (this may include the adjuster taking photographs of the vehicle); and
- 5. Contact healthcare providers for information in relation to any injury expenses.
If the accident resulted in no injuries, the only issue will be repair to the vehicle. Resolution of claims made for vehicle repairs usually involves one of the following options:
- 1. Use a body shop approved by the insurance company: these shops are already approved to perform automobile repair by the carrier; the claimant simply takes his or her car in for an estimate and the work is subsequently completed;
- 2. Obtain quotes: the adjuster may request that the claimant take the vehicle to several shops in order to obtain estimates to compare; or
- 3. Claimant uses their own shop: claimants may decide to use a shop of their choosing. But, this may result in the claimant having to pay the difference in cost between the shop he or she chooses and what the insurance company determines is the fair price of the work.
If injuries occur as a result of the accident, resolving the insurance claims becomes more complex. It will be necessary for the claims adjuster to receive evidence of all medical bills. This may require the claimant to sign a waiver granting the insurance company access to his or her medical records. Further, personal injury can add significant costs on top of the cost to repair the vehicle. This added cost may make coming to an agreement on who was at fault and for what amounts much more difficult and time-consuming.
Making claims against insurance companies can be difficult and frustrating. For assistance with your insurance claim, call an experienced Illinois insurance dispute attorney at 847-934-6000 today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC proudly provides representation for individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, in communities such as Crystal Lake, Barrington, Deer Park, Inverness, and Schaumburg.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.