So you are driving down the road minding your own business when BAM! You are involved in an accident. You follow my advice from my prior posts about what to do (and from my podcast!) and you exchange information. Turns out you and the other driver are both insured with Company X. What happens now?
First, the good news. Some, if not most, insurance companies have a provision that waives the deductible if you are involved in an accident with someone else insured with the same company. So, read your policy. Your deductible may be waived.
Second, the rest of the story. Who’s side does the insurance company take? Well, if this is handled properly, the claims are sent to two different offices. Office A handles your claim and Office B handles the other person’s claim. If they cannot agree on who is at fault, they SHOULD send it to a process called inter-company arbitration. Here an independent panel of three insurance adjusters looks at the facts and determines who is at fault. Then, the insurance company does not have to worry about “playing favorites.”
Okay, that is how it SHOULD happen. Is that how it happens? No. When I get a client in this situation, I immediately send a letter to the insurance adjusters and tell them that they are not authorized to exchange information. My client wants to protect his/her privacy. I then try to push the claims to separate offices, or even better, to independent adjusters. If that is not successful, I then advocate for my client, and if I do not get what I think is a fair decision, I request a review by a supervisor, and if necessary, by the Department of Insurance.
You have to be careful in these situations. Make sure your insurance company is looking out for you.