What is a third-party auto claim?

If a driver injures you with their car, you can file a claim against their auto insurance company. Compare quotes for uninsured motorist coverage to ensure protection.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 20, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • If you have to file a third-party auto claim, you will file the claim directly against the car insurance company of the other driver involved in a car crash
  • Whether you file a third-party auto claim partly depends on which driver was responsible for the accident.
  • If you were the driver who was responsible for the accident, then you would likely file a first party claim under your own car insurance company
  • You will want to give notice as soon as possible to the third party insurance company after an accident if you intend to file a third-party auto claim
  • In general, a third-party auto claim is more typical in a state with a fault system than in states with a no-fault system for insurance

If you are injured in a car accident that was the fault of another driver, you will probably file a third-party auto claim against the other driver’s insurance provider.

This means that instead of recovering from your own car insurance company after an auto accident, the insurance company of the other driver will be responsible for paying your damages from the accident.

Another common scenario for filing a third-party auto claim is if you are a pedestrian who is struck by a driver on the road. Many of the same principles apply when filing a third-party auto claim as would in dealing with your own insurance company.

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Why You Would File a Third-Party Auto Claim

Here are some common situations in which you would file a third-party claim:

  • If you’re injured in an accident caused by someone else
  • If you’re a pedestrian who has been hit by a car
  • If you are involved in a crash while driving a work vehicle

If you are driving a work vehicle and were involved in a car accident, you could file a third-party auto claim against the insurance company of your employer. The same is true if you were driving your own personal vehicle on work-related travel.

It is possible that you will be involved in an accident with a driver who does not maintain any auto insurance, which is illegal. In this case, your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage would come into play.

Even though underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage is optional, it can really be helpful if you are hit by an uninsured driver.

Essentially, your own car insurance company would step in to cover the claim so that you are not left paying for all of the damages to you and your car on your own.

If you are shopping around for underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, make sure to compare multiple quotes on policies. This type of coverage is important, but it is also important that you pay as little as possible for as much coverage as you think you will need.

If you have a more expensive car, you may want to consider increasing the limits on your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This may cost a bit more, but it could be well worth it.

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The Process of Filing a Third-Party Auto Claim

In order to file a third-party auto claim, you want to make sure that you have all of the relevant information on your end. You may need to call the police to the scene of the accident and have an official report written up.

Be sure to get a copy of this report and file any necessary documentation regarding the accident with your state department of motor vehicles as required by state law.

Even though you may think that the other party’s insurance company is adverse to you, you should still fully cooperate with the necessaries of their investigation of the accident and claim.

This means that you should respond to all inquiries from the other driver’s insurance company in writing if possible.

After the third-party car insurance company investigates the claim, you will likely be presented with a settlement offer for your damages. The amount of the settlement will be based on the expenses for your medical bills and any costs to repair the damage to your car.

Having to file a third-party auto claim can be a bit more complicated than dealing with your own car insurance company because the other driver’s insurance company might try to dispute the liability of the accident.

If this is the case, recovery for your claim could be trickier and take longer.

You might want to consider speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer if it looks like the other insurance company is going to dispute liability for the auto accident or is being particularly difficult to deal with.

The advantage of working with an experienced attorney is that you may not even have to file a suit in order to recover from the accident. An attorney will negotiate on your behalf with the other driver’s insurance company.

When you get a settlement from the car insurance company, your attorney may be entitled to a certain percentage of the amount for representing you.

No-Fault Insurance States and Third-Party Auto Claims

If you live in one of the 12 no-fault insurance states in the U.S., then the claims process will work a bit differently for you.

In no-fault insurance states, you are supposed to file a claim through your own insurance company first, regardless of who you think was at fault for the accident.

The type of coverage involved is personal injury protection (PIP insurance) coverage, which is used to cover medical expenses.

When the claim in a no-fault insurance state reaches a certain amount, then you are allowed to seek recovery of the remaining damages against the other driver’s car insurance company.

States that are not no-fault insurance states are typically called tort states in this context because the relative fault of the driver matters in determining the initial way that a car insurance claim is processed.

Recap on the Basics of a Third-Party Auto Claim

When you are involved in a car accident that is not your fault, you file your claim as a third-party auto claim against the insurance company of the other driver.

Just like you would for a claim against your own car insurance company, you need to put the other driver’s insurance company as soon as possible about your claim and seek to gather all of the necessary information quickly to have your claim appraised and settled.

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