How Does the Auto Insurance Claims Process Work in Kansas?
Filing auto insurance claims can go from being cut and dry to an exhausting ordeal. Each state has its own laws when it comes to claim settlement, and in Kansas consumers should be aware that they have rights as well as responsibilities when a claim is filed. For example, the state advises claimants to cooperate with an insurer's investigation and also requires the insurer to keep claimants up to date with investigations.
Filing a Claim
If motorists feel that the other party is responsible for the damages to their motor vehicle or property, they will need to contact the other party's Kansas auto insurance company to report the incident and file a claim under their liability coverage.
Policyholders should also contact their own provider to notify them of the accident, regardless of fault. That's because insureds who suffer injuries in an accident will use the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of their own policy to collect the primary benefits toward medical expenses.
Once a claim is filed, the claimant should receive details of the following steps to take. This generally includes whether to obtain estimates from repair facilities or if a claims adjuster will be conducting the estimate.
Following the filing of a claim, state law requires that any investigation begin within 30 days of when the incident was reported. In addition, if more time is needed to conduct an investigation, the insurer will notify the claimant or the claimant's carrier in writing every 45 days of why additional time is needed.
Settlement of Claims
According to state laws, a vehicle must be repaired back to the condition it was in before the loss. The insurer does not have to pay the highest estimate of repair; and if the company feels that the repair costs are too high, it has the right to check with other repair shops. If the insurer directs the claimant to a repair facility, it is guaranteeing the repairs and workmanship.
Consumers may also want to be aware that insurers do not have to use original parts and are allowed to use aftermarket or used parts. The claimant can request original parts but would have to pay the difference in price.
Motorists whose vehicles are declared a total loss will receive their automobile's fair retail market value. Sources such as used-car guides can be used in determining the value of vehicles.
Damages for Pain and Suffering
Claimants are only allowed to file lawsuits for pain and suffering under certain circumstances. To file a lawsuit, medical bills must be $2,000 or more, or the accident must have resulted in one of the following:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Fracture of a weight-bearing bone
- Compound, comminuted, displaced or compressed fracture
- Loss of body part
- Permanent injury
- Permanent loss of bodily function
Should the plaintiff receive duplicate payment for pain and suffering that was paid under their PIP benefits, they will be responsible for reimbursing their insurer for the payment received.
Motorists who are unsatisfied with claims or processing times should first contact the company to see if the issue can be resolved. If unable to reach an agreement, the claimant is advised to contact the state Insurance Department for assistance.