After a car accident, can I find out the other driver’s policy limit?
If you suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you can and should find out the other driver’s insurance policy limit right away to make sure it is large enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages and other losses.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO FIND OUT THE OTHER DRIVER’S POLICY LIMIT EARLY ON
Knowing the at-fault driver’s policy limit can affect decisions you make in the aftermath of a car accident. Generally, in California, the lowest bodily injury policy limit (that’s the one that covers your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering) is $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident. That means that the most any one injury victim can collect is $15,000. If there is more than one injury victim, the maximum available to divide up between all injury victims (including passengers in the at-fault driver’s car) is $30,000.
If you have health insurance, and you know from the get-go that the value of your claim (medical bills + lost wages + pain & suffering) exceeds the other driver’s policy limit, you will probably want to go through your health insurance for all accident-related medical treatment so that you don’t get stuck out-of-pocket on the medical bills.
If you don’t have health insurance and know that the other driver has only a minimal policy limit, you may want to be conservative in your medical treatment choices. You may opt against getting expensive diagnostic tests, or limit your number of physical therapy or chiropractic sessions.
HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT THE OTHER DRIVER’S POLICY LIMIT?
Ask the other driver, either at the accident scene, or by phone after the accident, what his/her policy limit is. The driver may just tell you. The sooner you ask, the better. Once the driver speaks to his/her insurance company, the adjuster will advise the driver not to talk to you.
Ask the other driver’s insurance adjuster what the bodily injury policy limit is. The adjuster can only disclose the limit to you if the driver authorizes it. The more serious your injuries, the more likely the adjuster will disclose the limit, or at least tell you if the policy limit could be an issue.
If the other driver and his/her insurance adjuster refuse to disclose the policy limit, you will need to hire a lawyer to unlock this information. The attorney can go through an insurance-tracing company to track down the policy limit, including the existence of any umbrella coverage. Insurance-tracing companies do not deal with laypeople; they only deal with attorneys.
If you have suffered serious injuries in an accident, you will also suffer serious financial consequences. You need to know how much coverage the other driver has so that you can plan accordingly. Demand disclosure of the policy limit. If the driver and insurance adjuster refuse to disclose the limit, get the advice of an attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases. The more serious your injuries, the more important it is that you hire a personal injury lawyer who will ferret out the existence of any and all insurance policies that may cover your losses.