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Hi, I’m Scott O’Sullivan, and this is in reaction to the big auto accident that happened this weekend, the hundred car or so pileup on I-25 this past Saturday. And, I get this question all the time from people, about what to do if you’re in a multi-car collision like this. The first thing you should do is contact your insurance company right away. The reason you want to do that is if you have collision insurance, is they will begin the process of repairing your car and getting the process going. Because, if you don’t take care of that right away and you wait too long, and hope somebody else is going to do it, then it just delays the process even more, especially in a multi-car accident.
And the reason they delay is they want to try to find out (they being the insurance company) whose fault it is. So, in this case, with this many accidents and so many people hospitalized, the sooner you can contact your insurance company to put them on notice that you are a part of it, the sooner they can get going to fix your car. And this means, because it’s a multi-vehicle accident, chances are the insurance company is going to blame this not on you but as what they consider to be an act of God or because of the hazardous conditions of the road. So, chances are, they’re not going to really use this against you. You’re still going to have to pay whatever your deductible is to get it fixed, but it shouldn’t count against you personally.
The next thing that you want to do is, if you got hurt in the accident, you want to contact your insurance company to see if you have medical payment coverage with your insurance company – your car insurance company. Your car insurance “med pay” coverage, usually from $5,000 and up, is used to cover things just like this. So, if you had to go to the emergency room, or if you go to the doctor in the next day or so after the accident, you can use your medical payment coverage to help get you better and help get you treatment. So, the big issue with “med pay” is that “med pay” comes first and then your health insurance would come second. So, the best thing that you can do is go to the doctor’s if you’re hurt, and then use your medical payment coverage. That will cover first and then your auto insurance coverage.
The next thing you want to do is get a copy of the police report as soon as you can because it may indicate that even though this was a huge accident, in icy road conditions, that one particular person was at fault. Now, obviously that person can’t cover a hundred different vehicles and all these accidents: they just don’t have enough insurance. But, if that’s the case, if it’s one person’s at fault that caused the whole thing, then you may have the opportunity to use your under-insured motorist coverage for any damages you may have. For example, if really did get hurt in this accident (I know one person did die, unfortunately), but if you really did get hurt in this accident, you could use it to pay for your medical bills, pay for your lost wages, pay for pain and suffering, things like that, through your underinsured motorist coverage.
But, in order to do that in these kind of situations, the insurance companies all kind of “get together” and they all sort of say, “…Oh, this was all unavoidable…there was serious road conditions that caused all this…” Well, that’s not right, and I think in a situation like this, if there is one person to be found at fault, you should be able to use your underinsured motorist coverage. That’s what it’s there for. Because it involves a vehicle, involves an accident that you are in your vehicle, and if you have any damages from it, you should be able to use it.