How Do I File a Claim with Another's Illinois Insurance Company?
In some cases an Illinois resident may have to file a claim with another driver's insurer following an accident. This is known as a "third-party" claim. After a collision it is important that the drivers involved exchange insurance information since the other motorist's policy information would be needed to file claims. Filing a claim with another carrier should be as easy as contacting the company and providing them with the other party's name and policy number. But dealing with another's insurer may be more difficult than dealing with an individual's own provider.
Motorists should be aware that filing third-party claims and receiving compensation can take longer than a first-party claim because the driver does not have a direct contract with the insurer, and the insurer's primary obligation lies with its customer.
What Occurs after a Claim Is Filed
After filing a claim with another party's Illinois auto insurance company, the insurer will investigate the loss and determine whether the policyholder is responsible for the accident and his or her percentage of fault. The state follows the "comparative negligence" law, which means that motorists can only collect compensation for damages if they are less than 50 percent at-fault. In addition, the law only allows motorists to collect the percentage for which they are not at fault. For example, if a driver is found to be 25 percent at-fault, the other insurer may only offer to pay 75 percent of damages.
If the insurer finds that its insured was more than 50 percent at-fault, the insurer will offer a settlement to the claimant. If the claimant agrees to the amount of the settlement, the carrier will likely require him or her to sign a "release for damages" prior to providing compensation. Signing this release means that the claimant agrees to the amount offered and no further compensation can be collected from the other driver or insurer. Claimants should ensure that they fully agree with the amount offered prior to signing a release.
Additional Details Regarding Third-Party Claims
According to the Illinois car insurance laws and regulations, the other party's insurer has 21 working days from the time that it is made aware of the loss to contact the claimant.
The insurer cannot require the individual to use a specific repair shop, but if the repair shop that is chosen by the motorist is more expensive than the recommended shop, the driver may be responsible for paying the difference.
Insurers are allowed to have repair facilities use non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts, but the consumer can choose to have the shop use OEM parts and may have to pay the difference in cost.
IL state laws require that an at-fault motorist reimburse the cost of a rental vehicle in proportion to the responsibility of the policyholder during repairs or while a settlement offer is being made. For instance, if the at-fault motorist was 70 percent responsible for the accident, that is the percentage the carrier will reimburse. Additionally, the law does not require insurers to reimburse for specialty or luxury cars. If the claimant drives a specialty or luxury vehicle it does not entitle them to reimbursement for the rental of a similar auto.
In the event that the other driver's insurer denies the claim or there is a disagreement in the settlement offer amount, the claimant can choose from the following actions:
- make a claim under his or her own policy if it contains the right types of coverage
- file a lawsuit in small claims court against the at-fault motorist
- seek appropriate legal counsel if the lawsuit amount exceeds the limits of small claims