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Complaint 7 of 20 in "Fault and No-Fault Issues"

Insurance Carrier: Interstate Bankers Casualty Company
State: Illinois

Consumer Complaint:

I was in an accident that was the fault of the other driver as stated on police report. His insurance company, IBC, has rejected my claim stating that it was my fault. I have proof as stated in the police report that it was the other driver's fault; however, his company will not pay for my damages. My insurance company, American Family, has recommended that I contact you for help.

Insurance Expert Answer:

IF you had collision coverage, let your carrier handle the matter, absorb the deductible and when they go after the other drive usually are able to refund the deductible in whole or large part.

Unfortunately, you probably don't have collision. You're in what is known as a 3rd party liability situation, and to the other driver's insurance company you're a stranger and seen as the enemy. Your insurance company owes you a duty of good faith; the other driver's company only has to avoid violating the applicable claims handling laws and rules, and unfortunately many companies take a hard nosed position that is unfair but hard to prove.

You should file an complaint with the State Insurance Department too.

The police report is often persuasive to an insurance company, but it does not firmly establish the other driver's liability, or your freedom from fault. It just states what the officer concluded -- and presumably the officer was not a witness -- so someone else, including a judge or jury, may reach a different conclusion if the matter is litigated. (If you had collision and the matter was to be negotiated between the insurance companies it generally would be accepted in the interests of time and practice.)

If the other driver denied all liability to its insurer, and claimed you were fully at fault, his company can take their driver's word for it without violating the unfair claims practices law and rules, and make you bring suit. In the suit you must prove the cost of repairs (and a paid bill would be the best evidence, and if the repair has not been done you could face big problems of proving the cost of repairs without an expert, depending on court rules and the state's laws, as you repeating what the repair shop told you it would cost is "hearsay.")

If there is no personal injury, and the other insurance company denies we normally suggest you should take the other driver to small claims court ASAP. His carrier will then negotiate with you, or cave and pay as it does not relish the idea of hiring a lawyer to defend the claim, and the other driver just might say it was all his fault anyway.

IF there is ANY personal injury that's reflected in terms of medical bills, loss of function, loss of work, scarring, etc. SEE A LAWYER now -- our affiliate is a good place to find a good lawyer.