Christopher Tidball, Author

THE ADJUSTER
Christopher Tidball
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March 2020

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PIP

Can my wife get sued if I am driving her car?

Dear Adjuster,

My wife was telling me that I shouldn’t drive her car anymore. We don’t have any tickets or accidents but she said that if I am driving and have an accident we both could get sued. That doesn’t make any sense?

Jacksonville, Florida

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Dear Jacksonville,

Your wife is right In Florida, and some other jurisdictions, vicarious liability can apply to automobiles. If you are driving your wife’s car and cause an accident, you could be sued as the negligent driver and your wife could be sued as the owner. In my own situation, my car is solely in my name and my wife’s car is solely in her name. As for our children, as soon as they turned 18, their cars were placed solely in their name. If you have legal questions about this, you may want to consult with an attorney who can best share how to protect your assets.

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Parked Car

Should I file a claim?

Dear Adjuster,

My daughter had a hit and run accident while her car was parked. The damage wasn’t excessive. Should I submit it to my insurance company or just pay to have it repaired? I don’t want my insurance rates to go up.

Shelly M.

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Dear Shelly,

What a great question and one of the most commonly asked.   What you are describing is a not at fault accident, which should not impact your rates.   However, you may have a deductible to consider.  You should contact your agent, who will know your carrier better than anyone, and discuss the situation with them.

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PIP

What is PIP? What is No Fault?

Dear Adjuster,

I recently had an accident and filed a claim for PIP benefits.   The company keeps referring to no-fault.  What is the difference between no-fault and PIP.

Confused

Dear Confused,

PIP and no-fault are often used interchangeably, but there is also a differentiation.  PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection and is a coverage mandated in 13 states.  No fault is a concept designed in the 1970’s to reduce litigation but having people file medical claims related to car crashes with their own insurance company.   Today, there is only one true no-fault state in the U.S., Michigan, whereby accident victims file both medical and collision claims with their own company.   In all PIP states there is recourse against an at fault party for injuries that exceed either a verbal or monetary threshold.

"CONFUSED
Auto Wreck

Confused in Islamorada

Dear Adjuster,

I was in the parking lot at the grocery store and another car backed into me. I filed a claim with my own insurance company and they paid less my $1000 dollar deductible. Now they are telling me that I will only get half of that back. What gives?

Confused in Islamorada


Dear Confused,

Insurance coverages, policies and laws can be very confusing. Many states, including Florida, have a pure comparative negligence law. This means that a person can pursue another party involved in the loss for the percentage for which they are at fault. For example, if a person is 99% at fault, they can still seek the 1% for which they are not at fault. In a parking lot accident, it is very common to have shared liability. Two vehicles backing into one another with no witness may result in a 50/50 settlement. This may be an agreement between the two carriers, or it may have been settled via Inter-Company arbitration if the carriers were members.

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Auto Wreck

Frustrated Driver

Dear Adjuster,

I recently had an accident where I was rear-ended by the other company. However, they denied my claim because the driver of their car was excluded under their policy. Can the insurance company do this?

Frustrated Driver


Dear Frustrated Driver,

As is so often the case with insurance claims the answer is that it depends. Without seeing the policy, it is impossible to know if that is a valid exclusion. In many states drivers can be excluded from the policy for a variety of reasons. You have several avenues of recourse. If you have collision coverage for your car, you can file a claim with your insurance company. They will take care of, less your deductible, and then attempt to subrogate the other insurance company for what they paid plus your deductible.

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