Car insurance is a legal requirement for all drivers in Florida and throughout the United States of America. If you are involved in a car accident that was the fault of another driver, you may be unsure which insurance company you should file an injury claim with. The law requires that your own insurance company should cover the financial costs of your personal injury and property damage up to the limits of your own policy.
However, in many situations, the costs of the damage sustained by victims go beyond what is covered under their own insurance policy. When this happens, victims may have to file an injury claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation, which is known as a third-party insurance claim. Insurance laws in Florida can be confusing, and often dealing with insurance companies causes victims a lot of stress. Additionally, insurance policies can be confusing, and clients may not know what they are entitled to claim.
Here at The Law Place, we can help you understand the difference between filing a first party and third party insurance claim and can assist you in filing both to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible for your injuries. Our law firm has a team of experienced personal injury lawyers who are skilled in dealing with car insurance companies and who can help you get the compensation you deserve. We offer a free consultation so you can receive honest legal advice with no strings attached.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What Is First-Party Insurance?
First-party insurance is a legal requirement for all drivers in Florida. This type of insurance is basically the contractual agreement between the policyholder and the insurance company that covers a client for any damage to their property or person. It is possible to take out other forms of first-party insurance coverage such as home insurance, phone insurance, or health insurance.
When you take out first-party insurance as a driver, you are covered for any damage to your vehicle or property and for any personal injury you sustain in the event of an accident. The minimum amount of insurance you can take out with your insurance company is $10,000 for property damage and $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP). In the event of an accident, Florida Statute 627.7407 requires that you contact your own insurance company first to report the accident and to receive compensation from them for your accident. This is commonly known as no-fault insurance.
Depending on the level of coverage you have with your own insurance company, you may be able to receive a sufficient amount of compensation under your own policy to cover the costs of your injuries. If you have taken out the minimum amount of liability coverage required in Florida, you may have to file a third-party insurance claim against the other party involved to cover your damages. Although insurance is expensive in Florida, it is recommended that you take out a high level of coverage if possible, as third-party insurance claims can be much more difficult to win.
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What Is Third-Party Insurance?
The main difference between first party and third party insurance is that there are other parties involved rather than just a policyholder and their insurer. If you have been involved in a car accident and your own policy is unable to cover the costs of your injuries, you will have to file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Additionally, third-party insurance covers situations where there is another person responsible for the harm you have suffered. For example, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by someone else, you can make a third-party claim against them to cover the costs of the injury and harm you have suffered. The most frequent type of third-party insurance claim involves third-party liability.
In order to have a successful third-party claim, you will be required to prove that the other party caused the accident through negligence and that they are liable for the damage to your property or a personal injury you have suffered. The benefit of third-party insurance claims is that you can possibly claim for more than what is available to you under your own insurance policy, including lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and medical expenses. As you are filing an insurance claim against the party who was at fault for the accident, these types of claims are commonly known as liability claims.
How Do I File a First Party Insurance Claim in Florida?
If you get involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida and file a first-party insurance claim with your insurance company, they will first check to see if you have taken the following important steps:
- Call the authorities – It is extremely important that you contact the police or the relevant authorities following a motor vehicle accident. They will file a police report and document the events of the collision, which will be vital to your insurance claim.
- Seek medical assistance – Regardless of whether you think your injuries are serious or not, you should always get them checked out by either a doctor or the paramedics at the scene. Just like the police, they will make a report to document your injuries which will be necessary for recovering medical costs from your car insurance company.
- Contact your insurance company – Once you have completed the above steps, you need to call your own car insurance company immediately. Usually, you have 24 hours following an accident to call them, but this will depend on your particular car insurance contract. Failure to call them within the insurance policy time limits can result in you not receiving any compensation from your insurer.
- Gather and submit the correct documentation – Your insurance company will then request that you have the correct documentation that is necessary for your first-party insurance claim. This will usually include a police report, medical reports, and any evidence of structural damage to vehicles.
Once the above steps are carried out, your insurance company will consult with their insurance adjuster to assess how much your claim is worth. It is important to remember that insurance companies are a business, and their main priority is making a profit. For this reason, you should always refrain from giving too much information to them, as they may use this to devalue your claim. This is why we recommend speaking with an attorney prior to contacting your insurance office.
How Do I File a Third-Party Insurance Claim in Florida?
The process of filing a third-party claim is very similar to a first-party claim, but they are often more complex. This is primarily because Florida is a no-fault state, meaning the third-party insurance company will most likely question whether or not you have consulted your own insurance policy. It is required that you file a claim under your own insurance policy prior to taking any action against the insurance company of the other party.
If you file a third-party claim and the insurance company determines that you were in any way at fault for the accident, they can use this as evidence to not pay you. These companies will also do everything in their power to prevent your third-party claim from being successful, which is why it is important to have the backing of an attorney. They can help ensure that you are adequately compensated for any personal injury or property damage you have suffered and that the other party is held accountable for the harm they have caused you.
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First-Party Bad Faith Insurance Practices
Although insurance companies are required to pay you the compensation you are owed, it is common for victims’ claims to be undervalued or not paid out at all. This is commonly referred to as bad faith insurance practices, and the only way to retrieve compensation may be to file a claim against your own insurance company or the third-party insurance company of the other driver.
Some ways that your insurance company could be acting in bad faith include:
- Denying insurance claims without a valid reason.
- Undervaluing insurance claims.
- Not investigating insurance claims properly.
- Trying to offer a low-ball settlement.
- Asking victims to provide an unreasonable amount of documentation.
- Not replying to a victim’s complaint within a sufficient time frame.
- Not informing claimants of an appeals process.
Bad Faith Third-Party Insurance Claims
It is possible to file a bad faith insurance claim against both your first-party and third-party insurance company once you can demonstrate that the insurance company was acting in bad faith when they denied or undervalued your claim. The difference between first-party and third-party claims is that bad faith claims against third parties can be much more difficult to win. This is because the other party will attempt to establish fault on your behalf to prevent them from paying you out. Examples of third-party bad faith practices include:
- Completely denying your claim without giving a valid reason.
- Falsely devaluing the insurance policy limits of the third party as a means of not paying you the full amount of compensation you are owed.
- Not communicating efficiently with you and your own insurance policy representatives.
- Misrepresenting the facts in order to not pay you.
Being able to protect yourself against car insurance companies is a vital part of the legal process, as these companies are known to prioritize profit over their clients. However, it is important to note that bad faith insurance claims can be difficult to prove without the assistance of an attorney. These companies usually have huge legal teams who are prepared to fight against you to ensure you do not receive the compensation you are owed. This is why we recommend that you contact our law office as soon as possible if you have been involved in a car accident and have been treated unfairly by an insurance company.
Contact The Law Place Today
The insurance system in Florida can be stressful, and insurance companies will often do everything in their power to prevent you from receiving the compensation you are owed. In addition to this, it can be confusing trying to figure out whether you should file a first-party claim or a third-party insurance claim.
Depending on how comprehensive your insurance policy is, you should be insured for at least some of your personal injury bills and damage to your property under your own policy. However, if your insurance coverage is low, or if there is another party at fault for your collision, you may have to file a third-party liability insurance claim against another person’s insurance company.
Regardless of your situation, we recommend that you speak with an attorney from our law office as soon as possible. We have a team of experienced lawyers who can help advise you on how best to receive a payout for the harm that you or your property has suffered. We can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive justice and are not left out of pocket due to the bad practices of an insurance company. Our law firm offers a free consultation for you to receive advice with no strings attached.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are always open.