Visitor Question

Do I have to give my car insurance documents to the at-fault driver’s insurer?

Submitted By: James (Lansdale, Pennsylvania)

I was injured in a car/bicycle crash. The car driver was totally at fault and was cited by the police. My bicycle was totaled ($300+ depreciated value).

I was knocked to the pavement and pinned under the bicycle/car bumper. I was evaluated and x-rayed for soft tissue injuries to my arm, leg and torso at that time. One month later, all visible injuries disappeared. During this month, I lost my job due to my pain and other injuries.

The worse is that 3 months later, I still feel pain in the leg joints which were hurt in the accident whenever it’s cool or rainy.  I’m still suffering from headaches and become deeply depressed and fearful whenever I’m reminded of the accident. For example, when I received mail or email from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

I have sent a demand letter to the driver’s insurance company asking for the value of my bike and an amount for pain and suffering, which I definitely had/have. They asked me provide the following documents to their insurance adjuster:

1. My PIP carrier contact information
2. A copy of my Declarations page showing my Tort Threshold
3. Names and addresses of my primary doctor

Should I offer all these documents? I share my auto insurance with my wife who is the primary holder. My wife drives to her job in Virginia. At the time of the accident, I was in the habit of walking or bicycling to my job in New Jersey.

I was hit while riding my bicycle. Why do they need my car insurance coverage information? Do I have to hand it over?  I appreciate whatever info you can give me.

Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear James,

Thank you for the great questions. When it comes to insurance companies, they typically fight personal injury claims tooth and nail.

If you are covered under your wife’s auto policy, you are probably covered for the car accident you were in, even though you were riding a bicycle when the at-fault driver hit you.

Some persons injured in an accident refuse to give the at-fault driver’s insurance company any documents whatsoever. You are not legally obligated to cooperate with the other insurer, but it can undermine your attempt to settle the claim.

Here are some things to consider before deciding to share any or all of the requested information.

Declarations Page

Before we can answer questions about handing over a copy of your Declarations page, please note that states are typically either “fault states” or “no-fault states” when it comes to car insurance.

In a fault-based system the at-fault party’s insurance pays the victim’s:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

In a no-fault state, victims turn to their own insurance company to pay:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Replacement services

Pennsylvania is unique in that it’s a hybrid system, allowing drivers to purchase either fault or no-fault insurance. The state refers to these options as full tort insurance and limited tort insurance.

Pennsylvania law states:

“Each insurer, not less than 45 days prior to the first renewal of a private passenger motor vehicle liability insurance policy on and after July 1, 1990, shall notify in writing each named insured of the availability of two alternatives of full tort insurance and limited tort insurance described in subsections (c) and (d).”

The Declarations page of your insurance shows your tort threshold. The “threshold” indicates whether you opted for full tort insurance (or fault insurance) or limited tort insurance (or no-fault insurance).

The insurance company for the person that caused the accident wants a copy of the Declaration page because if you opted for limited tort insurance, it’s not responsible for compensating you. Instead, your insurance would provide compensation.

If your own insurance company is paying for your losses, then it’s more efficient to work directly with your insurer for your injury claim.

PIP Carrier Contact Information

Pennsylvania law requires drivers to purchase a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy.

PIP insurance typically helps cover your:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages

Your insurance company  will pay reasonable medical bills and lost wages up to the limits of the PIP insurance you’ve purchased.

If you opted for full tort insurance, we recommend that you consult an attorney before providing copies of your policy documents to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Once the at-fault driver’s insurer knows how much your own insurance company will reimburse you for medical expenses and lost wages, they may reduce any settlement offer accordingly.

Names of Doctors

If the at-fault driver’s insurance company isn’t paying your medical bills, they don’t need access to the name of your doctor or your medical records.

PIP does not cover pain and suffering.  If you have limited tort insurance coverage, then there are limits on your eligibility to seek compensation for pain and suffering from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

We recommend that you contact a local attorney for assistance. Your situation is complex, and a local attorney will be able to guide you through these tricky waters.

 

Learn more here: Proving Fault for Bicycle-Car Accidents

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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