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Car Accidents and Tickets

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Car Accidents and Tickets

Car accidents and tickets

Car accidents and tickets are often an unavoidable reality of your driving life. Even if you take utmost care of your driving behavior, others may not be as careful. Sometimes, accidents may be caused by entirely unforeseen situations like a sudden tire bust and loss of control. At All Solutions Insurance, we believe the best weapon to get back with your life in case of an unforeseen situation like an accident is to educate drivers about how to react in case the unexpected happens.

In the following section, we will try to answer some of the commonly asked questions:

What should I do if I have an accident?

Getting into an auto accident can be one of the scariest, most frustrating and costly things that can happen to you. Once you determine that no one involved needs medical attention, there are some important procedures you should follow to ensure your protection. Every 14 seconds someone is injured in a car accident. Unfortunately, that means the chances are pretty high that at some point in your life, you will be involved in a crash. What you do in the minutes following that accident could affect your safety and your wallet.

First, make sure you, your passengers and others are not injured. If there are injuries call 911 immediately. Second, in most states the police should be notified.
Third, you should give your information to the other driver(s). Provide your name, address, and telephone number. Also let them know your auto insurance coverage is through ASI. Then get this same information from the other driver(s).
Finally, contact your insurance carrier at your first opportunity. Contact information may be found on your insurance identification card. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact us.
It is very important to stay calm. If you panic after the accident, you may miss some important details while evaluating the situation. Notify Police and file a report. No matter how small, this is a very important step. This report will serve as an official document if a legal issue should arise. Do not leave the scene until the officer allows you to. Don’t admit fault and don’t discuss the accident with anyone except the police officer and your car insurance company. In some jurisdictions, police may not respond to the scene unless there are injuries. In this case, you can file a “counter report” at the local police station.

If you are in a crash, try to keep calm and stay safe. Evaluate yourself and your passengers for injuries. If there is any question of a serious injury, move as little as possible and call for help. If it is a minor accident, move the cars to the side of the road. The last thing you want to do is be involved in a secondary accident. If you can’t move your car, turn on your hazard lights, and assess whether it is safe to remain in your car (with your seat belt on) or get out and move to a safer location. Be very careful to watch for oncoming traffic.

To prepare for such an event, put together an accident emergency kit and keep it in your car. It should include pen, paper, a card containing information on allergies or medical conditions if applicable and emergency contacts; also a flashlight, a disposable camera (if you do not have one on your cell phone), emergency flares, and a blanket.

In California, police officers will not come to the scene unless there are injuries, drugs or alcohol are involved, the accident is a hit and run, or city property is involved. So it is important that you exchange information: name, address, phone number, auto insurance information, driver’s license and vehicle license plate numbers, a written description of the car including the year, make, model and damages. Do not admit fault or assume liability for the accident. Take photos of the scene and the vehicles. If no camera is available, diagram the accident scene. If there are any witnesses to the crash, ask for their contact information.

Even if the damage is minor and you decide to handle the repair bills between the drivers without involving your insurance company, you still need to gather the above listed information. Frequently, the other driver will back out on paying for the damages once he sees the estimates. At that point, if you don’t already have the information, it can be much more difficult for the insurance company to start an investigation and piece together details of the accident. Bear in mind, also, that your insurance policy may require you to report any accident, no matter how small, and offering a settlement on your own may jeopardize your coverage.

  • Check all parties for injury
  • Summon aid and police if necessary
  • If possible move all parties to a safe location
  • If possible move vehicles to a safe location
  • Exchange information with other drivers
  • Obtain names and contact information for witnesses
  • Take photos if possible

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

What to Do After an Auto Accident

Exchange information with the other people involved. It is very important to get as much information as possible. Ask for the following:

  • First and Last Name
  • Drivers License Number
  • Phone Number(s) – Home, Work, Cellular
  • Physical address and email address
  • Insurance Company and Policy Number
  • Names of others involved
  • License plate number(s) of all involved vehicles

If you have a camera handy (don’t forget about cell phone cameras), take pictures of the scene. If no camera is available at the scene, take pictures once you have a camera. This can help with the claim and for legal purposes. Next, it is important to write down all you can remember about the accident. Include time of day, street names, which direction you were headed, etc. If there is a legal suit filed, it can take months to sort it all out. When recalling the events, you may not remember them as they happened, and this document will help jog your memory or help your legal counsel. It is also important to review your policy and file a claim with your insurance company. Do this as soon as you can to get the process started toward repairing your damaged vehicle. Finally, in California you are obligated to report any accident that 1) results in a total of $750 of damage or more and/or 2) involves injuries to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The reporting form is called an “SR-1″. Your insurance carrier may file this form on your behalf, but if they do not it is your obligation to do so.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

Consequences of Not Having the Right Auto Insurance Coverage

When choosing auto insurance coverage, it is important to select the proper policy to fit your needs. Many people will purchase the cheapest policy they can, and in the long run, it may end up costing more. What is saved in a monthly payment can quickly be eaten up in litigation.

If an insurance policy is chosen that does not cover the cost of damage or personal injury, your private assets can be seized in order to pay for the damages. With the cost of automobile repairs and medical expenses rising, it is very important that you have coverage which will cover the cost of damage or injury if you are in any kind of accident, or have to file a claim.

When deciding on auto insurance, it is a great idea to compare several quotes and then speak with a representative to discuss your individual situation. When shopping for coverage, make sure you are comparing apples to apples, with regard to limits of liability, deductibles, and other variables.

When reviewing Auto Insurance plans, the following should be considered:

  • Bodily Injury Liability
  • Property Damage Liability
  • Personal Injury Protection
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection
  • Collision and Comprehensive

Before purchasing anything, make sure you understand what all these coverages mean, and what the consequences will be if you don’t have enough coverage.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

What to Do if You Are Hit by an Uninsured Motorist

If the unfortunate happens and you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and the crash was his fault, don’t lose hope. You may not be left with empty pockets. If you have appropriate coverage within your auto policy, your insurance company will likely pay for any damages to your car and any medical expenses incurred.

If you only have liability coverage, your only option may be to use a lawsuit and the courts to get the other driver to pay. However, keep in mind, if the uninsured driver can’t afford insurance, he likely won’t have enough money to pay a court ordered settlement either.

In California, estimates show as many as 28% of drivers are uninsured. So if an uninsured driver hits you, your best bet is to have sufficient coverage to protect you and your car and to shield you from having to go the route of a lawsuit. At the minimum, protect yourself from costly medical bills by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage.

Finally, make sure you notify the police that the other driver was uninsured. In many states the penalties for driving without insurance range from fines or suspension of license and registration to jail time.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

How Long Can I Wait to File a Claim?

In many cases after an auto accident, the person involved will file a claim immediately to cover the damage of the car. But in some cases people will try to settle without getting their insurance company involved. This may not always be the best decision. Perhaps someone doesn’t pay when they say they will, or you find that there are medical complications due to the accident that weren’t immediately apparent. When this happens, many people will then turn to their insurance agency to be compensated. The question then comes up, “How long do I have after an accident to file a claim?” For medical issues, the state of California requires that your claim be made within 2 years of the incident. If you are trying to be compensated for damage to your vehicle, you have 3 years (for more information, click here).

While this is the case in the state of California, you should always review your insurance policy to be certain. This information is usually contained in a section titled “Duties After an Accident or Loss”. For example, if your vehicle is stolen you typically have a duty to file a police report immediately and contact your insurance company within 30 days.

To make filing a claim a bit less stressful, it is a good idea to gather information just after the accident. Make notes and take pictures if possible. Also, if there are medical complications, it is important to save all of the documentation.

Talk to an ASI expert today to if you have any questions.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

After the Accident: Should You Hire an Attorney?

An auto accident can be one of the most stressful experiences in life. Some are more serious than others, but all come with the added anxiety of worrying about your car and what this will do to your insurance rates.

Hiring an attorney after a crash is not a requirement, but there are some scenarios where you may want to consider retaining legal counsel. If you or any of your passengers are seriously injured, you may want to hire a lawyer to help you receive a fair settlement and keep the lines of communication open with all the parties that will be involved.

If the other driver caused the accident and you have serious injuries, you might consider contacting an attorney. Oftentimes, the at-fault person’s insurance company may immediately contact you to settle the claim. A lawyer can help wade through the complex language of the insurance policies involved and deal with any pressure from the other adjuster while you focus on getting better.

The American Bar Association suggests you hire an attorney any time you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

If the circumstances surrounding the accident make it difficult to prove the other driver is at fault, you may want to have a seasoned counselor on your side.

No matter what you decide, there are a few factors you need to consider when hiring a lawyer. First, settling your case will likely take much longer with an attorney at your side. Second, in California, you have only two years from the date of the accident to file a claim in court. And third, be prepared for the attorney to take a portion of your settlement money in return for his or her work on your behalf.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

Auto Insurance and Fender Benders

Impact On Premiums

Fender benders and the like are an anticipated part of life, and though you’re protected with auto accident insurance, you may still have concerns about what’s going to happen to your insurance rates when you file a claim. Will your rates go up, and if so, how much? Will you be canceled? What if the accident wasn’t your fault? What if it was? There are no simple answers to these questions, as the process of establishing auto insurance premiums is very complex, and each accident is analyzed using many variables, including fault, history of accidents, moving violations and auto insurance claims, as well as age, car type and much more.

  • Not your fault: If the accident is not your fault, it’s the first in which you’ve been involved, and your driving history is free of moving violations and/or insurance claims, you may have no premium increase at all.
  • Your fault with property damage: If the accident is your fault, but it resulted in property damage only, you will probably not lose your good driver discount. It may, however, trigger an increase in your premium.
  • Your fault with bodily injury: If you are at fault and someone is injured you will most likely lose your good driver discount and could see a 20 to 25 percent premium increase.
  • Non-renewal & cancellation: Your insurance company may also decide not to renew your policy if your driving record gets markedly worse or you have several auto accident claims. Different insurers have different rules about what constitutes an unacceptable driving record, but there are a few accidents, such as those caused by drunk driving, that will probably trigger a non-renewal from virtually every insurance company.

Practices vary from company to company, but in general, an insurer will increase your premium by specific percentages for each chargeable claim made against your policy above a specific dollar amount. A chargeable claim is one the insurer considers primarily your fault. The percentages and ceilings vary from company to company. These increases generally stay on your premium for three years following the claim.

Save Money & Time

Some accidents may involve little damage and will be under your deductible, so you may be inclined to circumvent the process of filing an auto accident insurance claim and just fix the damage on your own. This is a mistake that could cost you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, because what seems like a little fender bender could turn into an injury claim. By reporting the accident, you are now protected against future claims because ASI or your insurance carrier will now have a record of the damage and will be able to defend you in the event that you are sued. Additionally, ASI can help arrange for repairs at a trusted facility, and you can take advantage of the company’s pricing discounts. In most cases, the reporting of this fender bender will not affect your premium and it will end up saving you money in the long run.

Don’t Do It Alone

Insurance professionals can spot red flags and are trained to deal with people and resolve problems, which takes the adversarial component out of the equation. When people try to adjust their own claims, they are an involved party and it often gets emotional.

Driver’s Rights

The process of filing an auto accident insurance claim is regulated by the California Department of Insurance; however, in a competitive auto insurance market, great service from the claims department can set an insurance company apart from the pack. This is the number one goal of ASI: To provide exceptional service at all times.

Drivers’ rights under the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations of the California Department of Insurance (www.insurance.ca.gov) mandate that insurance companies assist in the following way:

  • Advise you of all benefits, coverage, time limits, or other provisions of your insurance policy.
  • Acknowledge a claim, start an investigation, provide forms and instructions, and provide reasonable assistance immediately (in no more than 15 days) after receiving notice of a claim. (Notice of claim is any written or oral communication to the insurance company that reasonably apprises the insurer that you wish to make a claim.)
  • Respond immediately to communications received from you (in no more than 15 days).
  • Accept or deny the claim immediately (in no more than 40 days) after receiving proof of claim. (Proof of claim is documentation in your possession which provides any evidence of the claim and supports the magnitude or the amount of the loss, such as estimates of repair or police report indicating theft of your vehicle, etc.)
  • Pay reasonable towing expenses, unless the insurer has provided you with the name of a specific towing company prior to your using a towing facility.
  • Offer a fair settlement. If you suffered a total loss, settlement must include taxes, license and transfer fees. The settlement must reflect the value of comparable deductions from the settlement for salvage and must be fair, measurable and discernable.
  • Pay the claim no later than 30 days from the date settlement was reached on an accepted claim.
  • Advise you whether or not they will sue the other party to recoup payments you have made to repair your vehicle (a.k.a. subrogation). If the insurance company does pursue subrogation, they must include your deductible unless you’ve already recovered your deductible.

The bottom line is never make assumptions when you’ve been in an auto accident and do not try to be your own claims agent. If you’ve been in an accident, contact your insurer, get the dialogue going and the process started on what needs to be done to protect your needs and get you and your vehicle moving again

Total Loss Calculation

When a car accident happens, there are two ways an insurance company can go when it comes to your damaged vehicle. To determine which they will choose, they will assess the damage to your vehicle and weigh the cash value of the car versus the repair costs. After this determination, they will either pay to have your car repaired, or declare it a total loss.

A car is declared a total loss when the cost to return the vehicle to pre-accident condition would be as much or more than the actual cash value of the car. If the repair costs are much less than this, the insurance company will pay to have the car repaired. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this.

If your car’s actual cash value is $12,000 before the accident, and the repair cost is $3,000, the insurance company would pay to have it repaired, because the repair cost is much less than the cash value of the car.

If your car’s actual cash value is $6,000 before the accident, and the repair cost is $7,000, then the insurance company would declare this a total loss, because the cost to fix it is more than the car is worth. In this case, the insurance company will make a payment to you for the actual cash value of the car. After this, the insurance company will usually sell your damaged vehicle to a licensed salvage dealer (the insurance company becomes the owner of the vehicle as part of the settlement with you).

For more information on auto insurance, please visit www.allsolutionsinsurance.com or call one of our representatives today at 951-247-2003.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

How long do tickets stay on my record?

All minor traffic convictions and accidents remain on your driving record for three years. Alcohol related major violations remain on your driving record for ten years. Points for traffic convictions and chargeable accidents are added and removed at the renewal of your policy. There is no change to the policy during your policy period to add or delete points. Call an ASI expert for more information

How is my Insurance rate affected by a traffic citation?

While no one likes to receive moving violations, getting a traffic citation isn’t necessarily cause for panic over your insurance rates. If this is your only traffic ticket in the last three years, you likely have little to worry about. That’s because most insurance companies only review driving records when you apply for insurance, if you are considered a high risk driver or if you have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).

If this is your second traffic ticket or a violation that is serious enough to garnish extra points on your record, it’s a different story. You will want to take action to try and clear your record.

If possible, take the time to show up for your court date. If the officer does not appear then you can make a motion to dismiss the case. In most California traffic courts, this is automatic. However, some judges will issue a continuance for the officer. If he does show, you can then opt for traffic school to keep your speeding ticket off your record.

If you have a California driver’s license and the ticket you received is in California, you can go to traffic school. In fact, many court jurisdictions now accept California traffic school online. You may take the school once every eighteen months for minor traffic violations (or with the judge’s permission for more serious citations).

By going to traffic school, you will keep the ticket off your record and avoid an increase in your California car insurance rates. A bit of advice though, make sure you check with the court prior to paying the fee and attending school. Not all California counties accept California online traffic schools.

If you have a commercial driver’s license, please note the laws have changed. You can no longer erase a California speeding ticket by attending traffic school. It will still go on your record.

Obviously, safe and responsible driving should always be a priority, but it’s good to know that if you do make a mistake and end up with a traffic citation there are sometimes options for rectifying the situation and avoiding increases in your auto insurance.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

I have a DUI. Can ASI help me get affordable coverage?

Being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs can have a detrimental affect on your personal life and finances. Court costs, a suspended license and other fees can add up. On top of that, when your auto insurance company spots the charge on your record, they could drastically increase your premium, or cancel your policy. If your policy is canceled, you will need to get another policy before you can get your suspended license back. Shopping for insurance with a DUI on your record can be a daunting and expensive task.

Fortunately, there are options. For a while, you will probably not be able to get as low a rate as you had previously because you are now considered a high-risk driver. Going through the quote process from many different providers can be time consuming. ASI offers insurance for drivers with DUIs at an affordable rate. ASI leverages our tie-up with over 30 reputable insurance providers to get you the best possible rates.

If you still have questions about your options, and receiving affordable DUI auto insurance, you can speak with one of our representatives by calling 951-247-2003.

This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.

For more general information regarding insurance, call:

Moreno Valley Office at (951) 247-2003 or  San Jose Office at (408) 225-4300

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