Cross Border Injuries


Seek medical attention first. Contact local law enforcement, exchange information with the other party, and document the scene. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.

Generally, yes. Most auto insurance policies provide accident coverage for Canadians visiting the United States. However, you may still encounter differences in coverage and regulations. Your lawyer will be able to determine the extent of your coverage.

Your lawyer can represent you without requiring you to travel. Modern communication tools make it possible for you and your out-of province attorney to manage your case efficiently and effectively without having to leave your home

In many jurisdictions, you are still eligible for compensation even if you were partially at fault. The legal principle of comparative negligence may apply, and your compensation could be reduced based on your level of responsibility.

Yes, both Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions have statutes of limitations. For local cases, Canadians can have one to six years to file a claim with the courts. In America this range is even greater with the limitation being one to ten years depending on the state.

Compensation may include both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. These include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The specific damages depend on the circumstances of the accident and the applicable laws. It is the duty of an attorney to secure all benefits available to you.

Your insurance company will contact you for detailed information regarding the loss and may take a written or recorded statement. An examination under oath can sometimes be requested.  As part of the investigation, other drivers and witnesses may also be contacted.  If you have medical payments or an uninsured motorist claim, you must provide documentation of your loss (injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, etc.).

A claim representative should contact you within a reasonable period of time after you report the loss. However under certain circumstances, the insurance company can take up to 15 days to contact you.  If you do not hear from anyone, call your agent or insurance company for assistance.  If they are not responsive, or you believe there is an unreasonable delay in settling your claim, contact the Department of Insurance.

A qualified adjuster or appraiser usually inspects the vehicle damage. The adjuster or appraiser then writes an estimate based on the initial inspection. If further damage is found during the repair process, the shop will contact the insurer to get approval for the additional cost  of repairs. Keep in mind the insurer may send out an adjuster to re-inspect the additional damages. If the damage is relatively minor, the company may instead ask you to submit competitive repair estimates. Remember, it is your responsibility to sign and authorize the shop to repair your vehicle once you are satisfied with the final estimate and repair facility.

Generally, the company will pay the lesser of the following:       

  • The amount necessary to repair the vehicle or   
  • The actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle.

Read your policy to determine what is covered. Pay particular attention to exclusions and limitations. For example, there is usually no or limited coverage for enhanced aftermarket stereo equipment, telephones, or tires and wheels unless it is Original Equipment installed by the automobile Manufacturer (OEM).  Additional coverage is usually available for such installed equipment at an additional charge.

Actual Cash Value – Unless otherwise defined in the policy, actual cash value in California means fair market value. The fair market value of an item is the dollar amount that a prospective buyer and seller are willing to pay and are reasonably knowledgeable about the asset. They must be behaving in their own best interest and free of undue pressure to transact.

 Most standard policies contain an appraisal provision, which can be helpful in the event there is a dispute regarding the amount being offered by the insurance company on a total loss settlement of your vehicle. Read your policy to see if it contains one. Under this provision, either of you can demand an appraisal.  Each party selects a competent appraiser.  The appraisers then select a neutral umpire.  If the appraisers cannot reach a mutually agreed amount, their differences are submitted to the umpire.  An amount that any two agree upon is binding. Each party pays its own appraiser; the umpire fee is shared.

The check can be issued in the name of the insured and any lienholder, such as a bank or finance company.  If the vehicle is deemed repairable, the company may also include the repair facility as a payee.

 The borrower is responsible for the balance of the loan, even  if the vehicle is stolen or damaged beyond repair. If your claim payment is less than the loan balance, the lender will expect you to pay the difference.  Coverage commonly referred to as “gap” insurance can usually be purchased to protect against this situation.

Yes, if you have purchased rental vehicle coverage.  Review your policy before you rent a vehicle.  Although policy limits vary, the company pays up to  a specified amount per day for a specified number of days.  The coverage ends when  your vehicle is repaired, the loss is paid or after the specified period, whichever comes first.

If your vehicle is stolen, the policy may automatically provide transportation expenses.  Again, review your policy to be sure.  This type of coverage usually begins 48 hours after the theft and ends when your vehicle is recovered, the loss is paid or after a specified period, whichever comes first

 The terms of the rental agreement make the customer responsible for collision damage while he or she has possession of the vehicle.  Additionally, rental companies insure themselves for damage to the vehicle caused by collision. For an additional fee, the rental company will waive all or a portion of the customer’s obligation to pay repair costs for damage to the vehicle caused by collision.  Both the amount of the fee and the language of the waiver vary. Coverage for collision damage to the rental car under your personal automobile policy depends upon the policy language.  Read your policy carefully.  Ask your agent or company before you rent a vehicle.

This is the remaining value of your damaged vehicle if your vehicle is determined to be a total loss.

  Subrogation is the right of the insurance company to recover from a third party the amount of damages it paid to you.  For example, if another party is at fault in an accident that damages your car, and you have a collision claim, your company will ask the other party to reimburse the money it paid on your claim.  The policy requires your cooperation with the company’s subrogation efforts.  Also, you cannot do anything that jeopardizes the company’s right of recovery. For example, you cannot sign an agreement releasing the other party in exchange for payment of your deductible.

Yes and no. The insurance company must advise you as to whether or not they intend to pursue subrogation.  If the company pursues subrogation, they are required to include your deductible as a part of the process.  However, if the company does not pursue subrogation they are required to advise you of that fact so that you may pursue your deductible on your own.  If their efforts are successful, in whole or in part, most companies will  reimburse you in accordance with the recovery.  For example, if 100 percent of the paid claim is recovered, you will receive 100 percent of your deductible; if the recovery is 65 percent, you will receive 65 percent of your deductible.  Any expenses or fees (e.g., legal fees, incurred by the company in its recovery efforts) will be apportioned between the company and you, if recovery is made.  However, if you choose not to have the company include your deductible in its efforts, you can seek recovery directly from the other party on your own.  But before you do, discuss the matter with your insurance company to avoid jeopardizing its recovery

Most policies provide coverage in other states, U.S. territories and possessions, and Canada.  As is the case in California, many other states and territories have enacted financial responsibility laws requiring drivers to carry a specified amount of automobile insurance to cover losses resulting from ownership or  operation of a motor vehicle.  If the financial responsibility requirements where you are traveling are higher than your policy limits, your company will meet the higher requirements.  Most policies do not provide coverage in Mexico, so if you plan to drive your car there, it’s wise to buy that coverage separately.  Check your out-of-state coverage before you travel.

California’s financial responsibility law is set forth commencing with Section 16020 of the California Vehicle Code.  Among other things, it requires all drivers to be able to pay damages resulting from ownership or operation of a motor vehicle.

Notify your agent and insurance company immediately.  Keep a copy for yourself and mail or deliver the original documents to your company.  Do not give statements or discuss the accident with anyone except a verified representative of your company.  If the lawsuit arises out of a covered loss, your company will provide legal defense.

Most policies provide automatic coverage for a vehicle that replaces a vehicle already on your policy.  The coverage normally is the same coverage you had on your previous vehicle.  Notify your broker-agent as soon as possible of any replacement vehicle. If you wish additional coverage, there is  usually a requirement that you notify your agent or your company within a designated time period.

Most policies also provide automatic coverage for a newly acquired vehicle that is an addition to the vehicles you already have on your policy. There are usually specific conditions that must be met. 

Most automatic coverage provisions require that the insured notify the insurer within 30 days of acquiring the new vehicle if the insured wants it covered under the existing automobile policy. Be aware that some policy notification periods can be less than 30 days. Some insurance company’s notification periods are 14 days or less.

If the insured fails to notify the insurer of the newly acquired vehicle within the specified time, the vehicle will be uninsured. Unless there is a specific notice procedure in the insurance policy, an insured’s verbal notice to his or her insurance agent can be deemed sufficient to trigger the automatic coverage for a newly acquired vehicle.