Making an insurance claim, especially after a vehicle accident, may be challenging enough without making mistakes. This is why it’s essential to know the “Do’s and Don’ts” of filing a claim.
1) Contact your agent or Junk insurance refund company as soon as possible after an accident occurs– preferably within 24 hours. Many times, car accident victims must deal with a headache from a vehicle repair shop soon after an accident. If this happens, contact your insurance company immediately.
2) It’s important to keep records of any occurrences that involved the car accident- including information about the other driver (their full name, address, license plate #, vehicle make, and model). If there are witnesses, get their full names and phone numbers.
3) If there were any injuries, get complete information about the doctor who will be treating them. Also, get contact information for the hospital where treatment was received. All of this should be forwarded to your own insurance company right away.
4) Report any property damage– no matter how minor it might seem. Even if the other person’s vehicle was the only one involved in the accident, you might still receive compensation for damage to your vehicle. If it is a relatively minor accident with little or no damage, most insurance companies write this off as a “minor” claim and won’t come after you for any money beyond your deductible.
5) When an estimate is required for your vehicle, make sure the mechanic taking the estimate is experienced in working with insurance companies. This way, you can be assured they know what to look for when evaluating your car’s damage.
6) If possible, photograph the accident scene and any visible damage to your car (including license plates). Also, take pictures of all relevant information about the other vehicle (damage, license plates numbers, etc.).
7) If possible, try to remember exactly what happened during the accident. Odds are you will be questioned at some point by your insurance company, and an accurate recollection of events will serve you well during this questioning.
8) Follow through with all communications from your insurance company as they pertain to your accident. Many times, insurance companies will try to resolve minor claims over the phone without their client’s involvement (you). You need to be involved in all communications regarding your car damage.
1) Do not offer any information about how your vehicle was damaged until you speak with your agent or accident adjuster.
2) Don’t be tempted to give your mechanic the other person’s insurance information. This can be viewed as an attempted bribe and could result in your claim being denied.
3) Do not make any statement or admission of guilt regarding who might have caused the accident. Even if you suspect you were at fault, it’s best not to admit this. If you’re involved in another accident after this one, an admission of guilt could be used as evidence against you.
4) Never sign any documents without first taking a moment to review them with your insurance agent or someone else familiar with the process. Insurance companies often try to get you to sign off on a document waiving your right to file a claim for vehicle damage.
5) Do not dispose of any damaged property or give it away without getting written permission from your insurance company first. If you do, they may ask you to reimburse them the value of such items (including any damaged parts removed).
6) Don’t be afraid to ask questions; remember, you are the client, and it’s your money paying for this claim.
7) Don’t be rushed into making any decisions until you’re ready. Be prepared to give yourself some time before deciding if you’d like to go through with the repair or replacement of your vehicle under the terms of your insurance policy.
8) Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best price on your repairs. Remember, you’re not obligated to use the auto body shop that your insurance company recommends. At least three estimates should be obtained before making a decision on how to proceed with repairs or replacement.
9) Avoid repairing or replacing your car until all relevant claim information has been thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by all parties involved. Once this has happened, it will be time to make repairs.
10) Don’t agree to any settlement until you are satisfied with the amount of money your insurance company offers for repairs or replacement. Remember, if they offer more than what you think your car is worth, you can always return the check.
The claims procedure is not meant to be navigated effectively by ordinary individuals. Furthermore, there may be a variety of competing interests at work; as a result, it is critical that your interests be safeguarded and that you are properly informed. If you or a loved one has been involved in a personal injury claim, please call our office for a free case review and no-obligation consultation.