What is a third-party insurance claim?

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

When you file an insurance claim with another driver's insurance company, it's called a third-party claim. You're referred to as the third party because you're filing the claim with an insurer you may not have a policy with (but the at-fault driver does).

When you're involved in a car accident that wasn't your fault, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurer to help pay for:

  • Repairs to your car
  • Transportation while your car is being repaired
  • Your related medical expenses (depending on where you live)

Read on for information on navigating the third-party claims process.

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At the scene of the accident

Immediately after a car accident, you can take steps to help ensure your safety and follow the law.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends that you call the police and file an accident report. The III also suggests taking note of the reporting officer's name and badge number. You should ask how to get a copy of your police report, in case the insurance company requires a copy when you file an auto insurance claim.

In addition, the III suggests exchanging information with other drivers involved in the accident, including their name, contact details, driver's license number, vehicle registration info and insurance ID card. Finally, record as many details as you can about the accident and take pictures. You'll want to have this information handy when you report your claim.

How to file a third-party insurance claim

Contact your own auto insurer as soon as possible after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Your insurer can work with the other driver's insurance company on your behalf and help you file a third-party auto insurance claim.

Insurance companies determine fault based on state laws and details of the accident. And, depending on how the accident occurred, you could be found partially at fault. That's why it's a good idea to work with your own auto insurer on any claim.

The third-party claim process

Each insurance company handles the claim process differently. You'll likely work with a claim representative or insurance adjuster during a third-party claim. The insurance adjuster may gather details about the accident from their insured customer and you (the third party). They may also inspect the damage to each vehicle (in person or via photos) and ask for a copy of the police report.

Based on their findings, the adjuster will determine who is at fault for the accident. The insurance company may pay your third-party claim if their insured customer is found to be at fault for the accident.

If your vehicle is damaged, for example, the company may send payment directly to the collision repair shop or mail you a reimbursement check.

The III says getting an estimate from a mechanic or body shop is a good way to gauge how much you'll need for repairs. The other insurance company may offer you the option of working with a shop that's part of their direct repair network. However, you have the right to choose your own repair shop. It's a good idea to ask questions about how the claim would be handled with each type of shop, then weigh both options to make an educated decision.

How third-party insurance claims work

In states with no-fault insurance

If you have no-fault insurance, you would file a claim with your own insurer for your medical expenses after a car accident. Your personal injury protection (PIP) helps cover your medical expenses, up to the coverage limits on your car insurance policy. Personal injury protection (i.e., no-fault insurance) is required in some states and optional in others.

In states with no-fault insurance, you typically file a third-party claim for property damage after an auto accident.

In states without no-fault insurance

If you live in a state that doesn't offer no-fault insurance, you can typically file third-party insurance claims for property damage and medical expenses.

Third-party property damage claims

When you file a third-party claim for property damage after a car accident, you may draw upon the at-fault driver's auto property damage liability coverage to help pay for repairs to your vehicle.

Keep in mind that the at-fault driver's policy will only help pay for your repairs up to their coverage limit. For instance, say your vehicle is declared a total loss by the other insurance company, and it's valued at $30,000. If the at-fault driver's coverage limit is $25,000, you may have to pay $5,000 out of your own pocket to replace your vehicle.

If this were to happen, you may be able to use your own car insurance coverage. Underinsured motorist property damage coverage may help pay the difference, if it's available in your state.

Another option is to file an auto claim with your own insurance carrier if you have collision coverage on your policy. Your collision coverage helps pay to repair damage to your vehicle, regardless of who's at fault. Keep in mind you'll have to pay your deductible. If you're hit by another driver who is at fault for the crash, your insurance company may pursue the other driver or their insurance company to collect the funds paid out under your collision coverage and your deductible.

Third-party injury claims

If you have injuries or related medical expenses after a car accident, the at-fault driver's auto bodily injury liability insurance may come into play (in states without no-fault insurance). Again, the at-fault driver's policy will only pay up to their coverage limit. Your medical bills that exceed their coverage limit may become your financial responsibility.

You may have coverage on your own auto insurance policy that helps cover your injuries after an accident. If you have medical payments coverage, it helps pay for your (and your passengers') medical bills after an accident. And, underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage may help with your medical bills if the at-fault driver is underinsured.

Third-party insurance claims with Allstate

If you were involved in a car accident with an Allstate customer, you can track a third-party claim via Allstate's MyClaim® portal or by calling 1-800-ALLSTATE.

If you're an Allstate customer who needs to file a third-party claim with another insurer, you may want to contact your insurance provider or call 1-800-ALLSTATE. That way, you can get the information you need to help guide you through the process.