(PLEASE NOTE: the insurance company I am referring to is the other driver's. The other driver was ruled at fault in the accident)

As a handy way to illustrate my experience, here is a scenario:

So you're at work and I go to your parking lot and smash your car up and total it so that the repair cost exceeds the value. You walk out at 5:00PM and discover this. Since you weren't in the car, nobody was injured. You probably don't like me because now you have to take all your personal effects out of your car. But I say, "hey, I'll give you a rental car to use, and pay you the fair value of your vehicle - are we good?"

Your response would no doubt be, "No! You're not accounting for the inconvenience of having to move my personal effects around, handle insurance updates, as well as the time and disruption to find a new car. Certainly that is worth something".

My question is, where may I find, in direct law or other resources, what the other driver's insurance company is obligated to pay in this case, for my state? In my case it's the state of Texas but I figure this would be more helpful generically.

3 Answers 3


What the other driver's insurance company is obliged to pay you is precisely nothing; you don't have any contract with them. The other driver owes you the value of the damage he did, and the insurance company is (probably) obliged to cover this debt as a result of his policy. It is simpler for all concerned if the insurance company sends you a cheque directly, and so you (or your lawyer or insurance company) will usually negotiate with them on the amount due. Your legal question appears to be "[How do I find out] If a driver writes off another car, is he liable only for the replacement value, or for the inconvenience caused to the owner?" which I think is too wide for this site, unless you put some limit on jurisdiction. But if you edit to be clearer, those more knowledgeable than I could provide some help (and this answer could be deleted).

  • 1
    The jurisdiction is noted in the original question to be Texas. And, in general, in Texas, there is potential liability for property damage, economic harm other than property damage, and non-economic damage, although getting an insurance company to pay anything other than property damage based on an estimate without suing the at fault car owner is pretty much impossible.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 31, 2017 at 14:19

You should have exchanged insurance information at the time of the crash (and if there was a police report, it would also probably be found in that, which you can obtain with some paperwork from the police). You can then contact the insurance company and ask them what the coverages are on that policy. The amount of coverage depends upon how much the other person purchased from there insurance company. There is usually a minimum insurance requirement, but different drivers carry different amounts of insurance.

If you do not receive the information voluntarily, the next step is to sue the owner of the other car. Insurance information will have to be disclosed in the course of the litigation, and, if you prevail or settle, the insurance company will pay the other party's liability.

  • yes we did exchange info and the police came. But I'm not sure that the insurance policy is going to spell out what they pay to me, the "other guy". And I'm only talking about $300.00 here - not trying to stick the other party, but I do wish to be repaid this amount just on principle. Jan 31, 2017 at 3:01
  • There is no doubt that the insurance policy covers amounts will in excess of $300. Nobody writes policies that small. Just get an estimate and present it to the insurance company with background on the accident and demand payment in writing as a result.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 31, 2017 at 3:04
  • Also, in my experience as a lawyer, "just on principle" is almost never a wise reason to take any legal action. Seek payment because you have a realistic chance of getting paid without much effort, leading to economic benefit to you. It isn't your job to balance the scales of karma.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 31, 2017 at 14:21

Your insurance company is obliged to pay you for what you paid them premiums to insure - this is all spelled out in your contract.

In general, motor vehicle insurance does not cover paying you for any inconvenience that having your car written off may cause you. Some policies will provide a loan car for repairs but usually in a total loss situation they cut you a cheque for agreed or market value (depending on the policy) and they're done.

  • Dale I added the comment above that the accident was ruled the other party's fault. It's their policy, and I did do a police report. Jan 30, 2017 at 14:11

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