When you’ve been in an auto accident, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Whether or not you were the one who caused the accident, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you get your insurance claim taken care of and receive compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
This blog post will provide you with tips on filing an auto accident insurance claim so that you can get what’s rightfully yours.
Document, document, document
The most important thing you can do after an accident is document everything. Not only will taking detailed notes help with your insurance claim, but it can also aid in a potential criminal case if you’re involved in a hit-and-run or if another driver leaves before providing his or her information.
If at all possible, take photos of your vehicle (especially if damage to it is significant), photos of other vehicles and photos of your injuries. If you have witnesses who were there when the incident occurred, don’t forget to get their contact information.
It may be wise to contact a personal injury attorney immediately so he or she can begin working with you and getting things in order while details are still fresh in your mind. Many attorneys offer free consultations, so that’s one less expense for you to worry about. In addition to filing a police report, file an auto insurance claim as soon as possible.
If your car was damaged in any way—or if someone was injured—you’ll need documentation from both incidents. Your insurer should provide you with what’s called a Notice of Loss form; fill it out completely and send it back right away so they can start processing your claim promptly.
Be sure to follow up regularly with your insurer regarding updates on how they’re handling your claims process; otherwise, nothing will happen quickly enough for you!
Be clear about your expectations
Don’t be surprised if your insurance agent can’t answer all of your questions. Be prepared to state what you expect from your insurer, and let them know what information you’ll need to move forward with a claim.
For example, if you want to repair your car right away, let them know. If you plan to fix it later down the road or replace it outright, state that as well. Don’t leave anything unsaid; keep in mind that an unclear expectation could lead to delays and hiccups when making a claim.
Your agent should understand what you expect and make sure you’re clear about any hurdles they might encounter during the claims process. If they don’t, get another agent who will listen to your needs and help meet them accordingly.
Your goal is getting compensation for injuries: After an accident, many people focus on just getting their cars fixed—which is understandable given how much time we spend in our vehicles each day—but your main priority should be collecting compensation for injuries suffered during a crash.
No matter how bad your vehicle looks after an accident, there are likely repairs that are necessary to make it safe again for driving (i.e., seat belts/airbags). The extent of those repairs depends largely on whether anyone was injured during a crash.
Know what you are entitled to
Your rights and responsibilities can vary depending on what state you live in, but generally speaking, your legal obligations include reporting accidents to the police (if appropriate), and notifying your insurance provider and other pertinent parties. Most states have mandatory minimums that must be paid out if you are found at fault.
These amounts may be significantly lower than what you’re entitled to claim, however, so it is crucial that you know how much you can get from a settlement. In most cases, car insurance companies will pay for damages—such as medical bills—related to car accidents.
If a court of law determines that another driver was at fault for causing an accident with his or her negligence, then he or she would typically have to pay damages related to injuries suffered by victims.
The same applies to property damage caused by negligent drivers. It’s important to remember that, in some cases, auto insurance providers might try to offer less than what you are legally entitled to claim.
In order for them to avoid paying more money, they might try their best to prove that you were partially responsible for causing an accident. Therefore, it’s important that you know how much money your case is worth before accepting any sort of settlement offer from your insurer.
You should also consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in auto accident claims if there is any chance that your insurer isn’t going to honor its end of a deal—or if you simply want someone else handling negotiations on your behalf because they understand legal matters better than you do.
Contact the right person at the right time
No matter what type of claim you’re filing—whether it’s a car, home, or medical claim—it’s always important to contact your insurance company when there’s been an accident. Whether it’s a fender bender or a major collision, it’s best to talk with your auto insurance provider about how to file a car insurance claim.
In addition to talking with a local agent in person or over the phone, you can submit a claim online. Make sure that you follow any instructions that come from your insurer and be sure not to sign any forms until you fully understand them.
If necessary, ask for clarification before committing to anything long-term.
Don’t let them rush you into a settlement
It’s critical to take your time and consider all of your options before accepting any settlement offer. Some firms will pressure you into making a quick decision so they can quickly move on to other cases, but that’s not necessarily in your best interest.
Take as much time as you need to carefully review what’s being offered, and know that you can walk away at any time. Remember, settlement amounts are negotiable; if it doesn’t feel right, try asking for more compensation. If they refuse to budge, walk away.
Don’t accept no as an answer
It’s natural to think, What do I have to do to get my car fixed? Just don’t accept anything less than No worries. We can fix it up right away and make sure you never even notice there was a problem.
When you call your insurance company after an accident, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. For example, if your vehicle is damaged but drivable, ask that it be taken in immediately so it doesn’t get any worse while waiting for repairs.
If you don’t feel like anyone at your insurance company is listening or acting quickly enough, ask for a supervisor and consider sending a follow-up email summarizing everything that has been said.