May 7, evening: I was returning home from work, a bit later than usual. I was approaching the intersection of the main road and my street, about a quarter mile from home. Two cars ahead. Driver in front braked and made a sudden turn into the corner gas station. Driver ahead of me had to stop quickly too. Then I had to hit the brakes too. A second later, I felt something hit the back of my car hard. The driver behind and I both pulled over and parked at the gas station. Called the police to make a police report and exchanged insurance information. The other party was a lady with a toddler. No one was hurt. My car had some rear-end damage: bumper scratched and a bit dislodged, exhaust pushed in. The entire front of her car was crumpled.
May 8: Called State Farm, which was the other party's insurance, to make a claim. I usually file a claim against the other party's insurance first, although I'm not sure that's the best strategy. Probably not in this case.
June 3: Received a letter of denial from State Farm. In the weeks before getting the letter, I talked to the State Farm representative a few times and it appears the other party's insurance was not valid at the time of the collision. It took them most of the month to investigate because they needed to be sure before denying the claim.
June 6: Went to Price Collision to get a repair estimate. Submitted it to my own insurance. Because I have a letter of denial, I can file the claim under my uninsured motorist coverage with a lower deductible. They told me they'll go after the other party to recoup the loss and refund this deductible, but I don't have much hope for that.
June 19: Car in for repairs at Price Collision. Got a rental from Enterprise down the road. This time, the rental is a Toyota 4Runner, a huge land barge. Land barge has a lot of newfangled features and is interesting to drive, but acceleration is not as good and it is harder to park and maneuver.
June 27: Repairs completed. Got my car back. New bumper, new exhaust, just as good as it was prior to the collision.
The annoying thing is it took nearly two months to get back to normal. It may have been better to file the claim with my own insurance next time and let them negotiate with the other party's insurance, even if I have to pay a higher deductible up front. In my defense though, up until this incident, the other party's insurance was valid every time so there was no delay.