Filing a Third-Party Insurance Claim

A “third party” in an insurance claim is anyone other than the claimant who caused or contributed to the accident. Another driver in a car accident claim, a vandal in a property damage claim, and a property owner in a premises liability claim are all examples of third parties that could be liable for your damages. Third-party claims are in contrast to first-party claims, which involve an at-fault claimant or an act of God. After any type of accident, review your insurance policy to discover if, when, and how you could file a third-party claim.

Do You Have Grounds for a Third-Party Claim?

Auto accidents are the most common reasons for third-party insurance claims in Texas. Texas is an “at-fault” or tort insurance state, meaning victims will file claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This is in contrast to no-fault states, in which all parties will seek recovery through first-party insurance claims with their own companies, regardless of fault. If someone else caused your auto accident, you will have grounds for a third-party insurance claim with his/her insurer. Examples of when you might file this type of claim include:

  • You were the driver who was not at fault for your auto collision.
  • You were a passenger involved in an auto accident.
  • An at-fault driver struck you as a bicyclist or pedestrian.
  • You were on the job at the time of the crash (the third party would be your company).
  • A product manufacturer caused your accident from a defective auto part.
  • The city caused your accident because of an unsafe roadway.

Third-party insurance claims in Texas don’t always deal with auto accidents. You might need to file a third-party claim with your homeowners insurance company or other insurer for accidents involving other pieces of property or types of accidents. Talk to an insurance attorney to find out if you have grounds for a third-party claim after any type of incident that causes damages, or if a first-party claim is more appropriate.

Steps to Filing Your Third-Party Insurance Claim in Texas

Once you’ve ascertained that a third-party claim is the correct type for your situation, take steps to ensure you file your claim correctly and on time. The actions you take in the hours and days following an incident could decide the fate of your claim. When in doubt about what to do next, contact a lawyer for assistance. In general, the following steps will lead to a successful claim:

  1. Don’t admit fault. Do not apologize to the other driver or tell an insurance company that the crash was your fault. Instead, wait for investigators to determine fault.
  2. Gather information. Get as much information about your accident as possible. Record the date and time it occurred, who it involved, a description of damages and injuries, and other details.
  3. Call the police, if required. Texas law mandates that you must report your car accident to police from the scene if it caused injuries, deaths, or more than $1,000 damage. Otherwise, you have 10 days from the date of the accident to file a report with the Department of Transportation.
  4. Call the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Once you’ve sought medical attention for injuries and it’s safe to do so, notify the other driver’s insurance company of what happened. Answer the agent’s questions to the best of your ability.

Consider talking to a personal injury lawyer if your injuries are extensive, an insurance company has denied your claim, or there are issues determining fault. A lawyer can help you with the third-party claims process and protect your rights during insurance settlement negotiations. A lawyer can also provide necessary legal assistance and guidance in the event of a third-party bad faith insurance claim.