- Each state makes its own car insurance claim rules. Two categories describe these rules: Tort rules place fault on one or more drivers and deem them responsible for all accident-related expenses. No-fault rules make your own insurance cover your injury expenses from a car accident. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) says only these states operate on the "no-fault" rules as of 2010: Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah.
- In all 50 states, your insurance only pays for your car if you have collision or comprehensive coverage. Collision pays for crashes and comprehensive pays for fire, theft, vandalism, weather, animal and falling object damage. If another insured driver damaged your car in a crash then the rules say that his insurance pays for your car. If you have collision insurance you can choose to use your insurance and let it bill his insurance.
- You can buy your totaled car back from the salvage yard.Crash on the street. German auto model 2007. image by Dariusz Kopestynski from Fotolia.com
Every state's rules say insurance doesn't have to pay for repairs that cost more than your car is worth. States determine the actual cash value of your car by indexing the used sale prices of all the cars with the same year, make and model. They get these sale prices when people register their cars.
- Your own insurance will only pay for your rental car if you have that coverage on your policy. If someone else caused the accident, their insurance should pay for your rental car if they have adequate property damage liability limits. Each state allows them a different amount of time to investigate this and accept the charges.
- Your own car insurance claim pays or reimburses these if 1) you live in a no-fault state, 2) you have medical payments insurance, or 3) you have uninsured motorist insurance and someone without insurance caused the accident. Otherwise, the rules say the responsible driver or his car insurance claim pays or reimburses your medical expenses.
- Tell your adjuster if the accident damaged any items other than your car. Depending on many variables, sometimes your insurance or the responsible driver's insurance will pay for eyeglasses, clothing, CDs, luggage, instruments, computers or whatever else you had with you.