Which insurance company should pay for damage to our car?

Our car was hit in a parking lot while we were not present. The driver left his insurance and contact info on the car; the car he was driving was not his. We turned in a claim to his insurance company and they denied the claim. The driver will not cooperate and turn in a claim on the owner’s insurance. He has admitted fault; there is a witness and video. How do we proceed? The only info we have on the car owner is the name of their insurer. What are our options to receive the cost of damages?

Asked on September 14, 2016 under Accident Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Remember: the other driver's insurer is *their* insurer, not yours--that is, they have no obligation to you, but only to their insured (their driver) to pay for and/or defend him/her in court. That means that if they pay without the driver being sued in court and losing (and hence being ordered by the court to pay), it is voluntary; they will do this if they believe that it is clear that their driver is at fault and believe also that the other party (you) will sue, so they figure (in that case), better to offer to pay something voluntarily now, rather than go through the time/cost of litigation only to be ordered later to pay, anyway. But if they doubt their driver's fault, and/or think you won't actually sue, they will not voluntarily pay.
Therefore, if they choose to not pay, you have three options:
1) If you have the relevant insurance (e.g. collission coverage), you can place a claim with your insurer. This is the fastest, easiest way to get compensation, though you'll be stuck with the deductible.
2) You can sue the at-fault driver (you sue the driver, not the insurer); if you can prove his/her fault and the amount of damage caused by him/her, you can get a court order requiring him/her to pay compensation (at which point their insurer will most likely pay for them).
3) Or you can combine the two: place a claim to your insurer, then sue the driver in small claims court to recover your deductible.

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