How does auto insurance work for multiple car stacks?

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ohn February 2021, Americans saw gruesome footage of the wreckage and carnage of three multi-car pilots that occurred on icy roads in Texas. The worst of them, a 133-car pile-up on a highway in Fort Worth, killed six motorists. On a freeway near Dallas, a motorist died in an 18-car pile-up. Further south, on a highway in the state capital of Austin, a 26-car pile-up sent five people to hospital.

Although the accident scenes were quickly cleaned up, it will take much longer to sort out the car insurance consequences of these accidents. As a result of these wrecks, you may be wondering how auto insurance companies handle claims when multiple vehicles are involved in a single accident.

According to the industry-backed Insurance Council of Texas, damage caused by accidents involving two or more vehicles that occur on snow-covered or slippery roads is usually covered under the liability portion of the standard auto insurance policy for the driver at fault or by optional police. collision coverage of your automobile insurance policy.

In other words, if you roll back other cars, your liability coverage will usually cover damage to those cars. You could use your collision insurance, assuming you have it, to pay for damage to your own car.

An Insurance Information Institute analysis of 2017 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows that 74% of insured drivers purchase collision coverage.

Janet Ruiz, spokesperson for the industry-backed Insurance Information Institute, said buyers of cars financed by loans or rentals are normally required by the lender to purchase collision coverage. But motorists who own older cars that they have paid for often drop in collision coverage because it won’t pay for anything beyond the value of the car, she said.

Untangle the blame

In the case of the Texas pilots, it’s still too early to determine which drivers were negligent, according to Ruiz. As for the Fort Worth pile-up, it may take even longer to determine fault, as the National Transportation Safety Board and the Texas Department of Transportation have joined the investigation.

Scott Blumenshine, a personal injury attorney in Chicago, says the evidence shows that the driver responsible for setting off a chain reaction accident could bear most of the blame and possibly all. But the fault could be attributed to other drivers who, for example, followed other cars too closely, did not brake properly, or did not travel at safe speeds.

“Collisions involving multiple cars can be extremely difficult to resolve as part of the claims process. They are ripe for the insurance companies to blame some or all of the other cars involved. With several insurance companies pointing fingers at each other, it’s hard to get everyone on the same page as to who is responsible for car repairs and personal injury compensation, ”says Mark. Anderson, a personal injury lawyer in Fort Worth.

Anderson offers this example: Four cars collide in a rear end crash. If the first car takes not only the initial blow, but then two more impacts, more insurance companies could end up in the claims mix.

To complicate this scenario, Anderson says, is that the No. 2 car would be at fault for putting the first car in the back. So damage to the front of the second car would be the responsibility of that driver, he said, but damage to the rear of car # 2 would be the responsibility of one or both motorists who arrived behind the second car.

“The easiest way to process property damage claims is when all the cars have collision coverage and they use their own insurance. But since many people only have compulsory liability coversometimes these people have to pay their own damages or take legal action, ”Anderson said. “With personal injury claims, lawsuits are often necessary to determine what happened and who is responsible for what part of the damage. These lawsuits are difficult, but certainly not impossible, to resolve.

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