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Posted by Alexander Body Car Maintenance, Vehicle Insurance Tips

Auto Accident Jargon: Are You the Claimant? Are You the Insured?

Auto Accident Lingo

Terminology used by insurance companies gets confusing. The muddiness increases when professionals mix up the jargon as well. Who is the claimant? Who is the insured? Auto accidents themselves leave your head spinning with questions, details and brain fog. Medical injuries and lawsuits complicate matters. Put it all together, and stress mounts.

Hopefully, you will not face the aftermath of a car crash. But, if you do, our goal is to help you walk through it with greater clarity. Today, let’s talk about the terminology or jargon used. Let’s get a handle on what the difference is between a claimant and an insured.

One note before getting started: The word “claim” refers to an actual event and involves a loss. For instance, an auto policy claim or loss would be a stolen car or an accident. You file or submit the claim to your insurance company. However, the event is called a claim even before filing. The act of filing does not make it a claim.

What is a Claimant?

The more confusing of the two terms is “claimant”. When an auto accident occurs, the claimant is the one who reports a claim to his or her insurance company. This person is the one suffering a loss in the claim or accident. For example, you are the claimant if you were hit by someone else, and your vehicle suffers damage and needs repair.

One claim may result in several claimants. For instance, in the case of a car crash between two parties, the person being hit and suffering auto damage is the claimant. However, if the other driver believes you to be at fault as well, he or she files a counterclaim. This gets confusing. To avoid issues, a defendant who is also a claimant is referred to as a counter-claimant.

But, let’s be clear. A claimant’s vehicle damages get paid by the at-fault party’s insurance company. If someone else damages your car, his or her insurance pays for the repairs. A few keys to keep in mind as a claimant:

  • You are not subject to a deductible.
  • You choose the repair shop you trust.
  • You are not locked into an insurance company’s “preferred” auto shop.
  • All repairs are paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  • You get a rental car until your vehicle is fixed. (Note: Any damage which makes a vehicle not roadworthy, i.e. broken lights, seatbelts or doors, gets you an immediate rental car.
    However, the insurance company is only liable if the policyholder paid for that type of coverage. This means you may become the claimant and the insured. Keep reading.

Who is the Insured?

Most simply stated, an “insured” is someone covered by insurance. In an auto accident, the insured’s policy covers the damage. If both parties suffer damage to their vehicle, and they each file a claim, they may both be considered insured (if both are found at fault).

Fault is determined by the insurance companies from accident reports filed by you and law enforcement officials, plus any other documentation requested. Once a lawsuit is filed, the terminology changes to defendant (insured) and plaintiff (claimant). These titles reflect fault.

If you become the victim of a hit-and-skip accident, your insurance covers you as the insured. You are responsible for the deductible and any repairs outside your policy’s coverage. A rental car may be part of the package as well.

Why Does it Matter?

You may wonder why the terminology makes that much difference. After all, as long as you contact your insurance company following an accident, isn’t that enough? However, it gets more complicated. Read on to understand why these words matter.

Knowing the proper terminology helps you make sense of the paperwork around your case. Furthermore, learning your rights as a claimant helps you stand firm when being steered by an insurance company to choose its preferred repair shop. You have the right to choose quality work and not wonder if you are getting slighted, while the insurance company saves money.

Remember, just because someone else’s insurance company pays the bill, it does not have the right to dictate where you take your vehicle for repair. You get to choose. You get to pick the best. You get to be happy with the results. And, you need not bargain for a rental car. You are owed one.

Understanding the terms “claimant” and “insured” does matter. It gives you perspective on your rights and responsibilities after a car accident. And, we stand on your side. We help answer your questions and get you back on the road, quickly and correctly. We also fight for the insurance company to pay for complete repairs on your vehicle. Rental coverage — automatic.

Contact us today for your auto accident repair needs. With 90 years of experience, we are The Gold Standard.

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Alexander Body & Fender