Responding to a car accident or making a claim with your insurance company can be a scary time, filled with uncertainty. However, once you familiarize yourself with the process and how everything works, you will be able to respond appropriately and with confidence. Take a look at these tips to prepare in the event of a car accident.
- have your auto insurance policy in place before you drive anywhere
- contact your insurance company as soon as an accident happens
- let your insurance agent help you through the claims process
- provide as much information about the accident as you can
- remember your insurance company will investigate you as well as the other driver
The first step is always to have your insurance policy in place before anything happens. When you purchase a policy, make sure you have as much liability insurance as possible. You should also have the right amount of comprehensive coverage, uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage on your policy.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after you are involved in an accident; you can even contact them from the scene of the accident. If the other party is at fault, you should still contact your own insurance company since they will be obliged to protect your interests during what follows.
Check with your insurance agent to see what statements you need to make if and/or when the other insurance company calls to get your version of the accident. Your agent may also help if your claim is denied. They can also discuss the appraisal clause if you have failed in all your attempts at settling the property aspect of the claim and need another plan of action.
You should provide as much information as you can about the accident to help support your version of events. The insurance company will need that information to determine who is at fault and how the vehicle repairs and medical bills will be paid for.
The insurance adjuster will investigate the accident, but they will also investigate you. They will look at your claims history and driving record, and may even look you up on social media. Most importantly, don’t file fraudulent claims; most auto insurance companies have special units to investigate suspected fraudulent claims.
If the negligent party does not have insurance, you have other options; you can negotiate with them or file suit. If you have to hire an attorney, having a comprehensive summary of the accident will go a long way toward helping you win.
If you feel the property damage settlement on behalf of your insurance company is too low, you can generally ask for arbitration to settle your dispute. You can also hire an attorney if you feel your claim amount is less than you deserve.
Protect yourself on social media by increasing your privacy settings on sites like Twitter or Facebook. Update your settings so only friends can look at your profile, pictures, status updates, etc. and third parties cannot access your information. More importantly, do not post anything about your accident online. Your insurance company can use adverse information to deny your claim if they can access what you have posted.
If there are no witnesses at the scene and no one to corroborate what happened, call the police to come so you have an accident report. If they won’t issue an accident report, an incident report can be filed, which will provide an independent record of what happened since your statement and the other driver’s account are likely to differ. This will help you get the money you need from the negligent party’s carrier if you miss work, have medical bills or require expensive repairs to your vehicle. Your auto insurance company also cannot raise your rates if you are not at fault in the accident.
This is particularly important when it comes to repair shops. If you don’t like the shop recommended to you, request to go to a different one. If the adjuster issues an estimate but it doesn’t cover unseen damage that the repair shop finds, call them and have them work out a more comprehensive estimate with the repair shop. However, some shops may be dishonest so be very careful in your dealings and keep your insurance company aware of any changes.
You should always have a plan for what to do when you need to make a claim with your insurance company. Regardless of whether or not you were at fault for an accident, the information you gather will help support your claim so you can get the money you deserve.
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