After a car accident, you may experience another whirlwind experience with the insurance company. You will need to file an auto insurance claim for compensation in order to have the costs of damages covered from the car accident. Since car repairs can be quite pricey and understanding liability can be tricky, it is imperative for the victim of a car accident to know how to file an insurance claim.
Getting the Police Involved in Your Car Accident Claim
The first person who you should call after a car accident is law enforcement. Even if the other drivers seem responsible and helpful, having the police on the scene will provide objectivity and proper documentation of the accident. While you should take down notes of everything that occurred during the car accident, it is also very beneficial to have a police report. If you are dealing with a difficult driver, then calling the police should be immediate. Upon arrival, the police will handle any disputes and ensure that emergency medical services are provided to those who need it. They will also document any dangerous car damage, such as oil or fuel leakage. A law enforcement officer will then help you file your claim if you need assistance.
Filing an Accident Report
Once you understand the laws for reporting accidents in your state, then you can adhere to the guidelines as you proceed with filing. If you are not certain about what needs to be done, then you should consult with an insurance agent. Your state insurance commissioner’s office should be able to assist you with filing an accident report if you have questions.
Gathering Information Regarding Your Motor Vehicle Accident
Before filing your auto insurance claim with the insurance company, you should have your car accident information list ready to go. This list should include all of the information that is needed to properly file an insurance claim, including all the details of the accident. You should not file your claim until you have comprehensive information about the accident, including the date and time of the accident, the insured driver’s full name, policy number, the start and end date of the insured driver’s policy, the driver’s license and license plate numbers for all drivers involved and a detailed description of the car accident. You should also have witness testimonies and a police report on hand.
Calling Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as you have gathered all of the necessary information and are ready to be walked through the next steps of the claim process. It is also advised in many cases to consult a lawyer before speaking with the insurance company so you know how to present your situation for the best outcome. However, if you are on the scene of the car accident and need immediate care because of the condition of the car, then you may need to contact the insurance company as soon as possible. For example, if your car is not able to be driven, depending on your policy coverage, your insurer may be able to arrange for the car to be towed. The insurer may also be able to reserve a rental car for you to use. Without the support of an insurance agent, you may end up paying more money out of pocket than necessary.
Getting Connected to a Claim Specialist
After you report your claim to your car insurance company, they will connect you with a claim professional (an adjuster) to work directly with you on your claim. The adjuster is tasked with representing you in any discussions with other insurance companies and other third parties when pertaining to the insurance claim. The adjuster will investigate the accident details and work with you to settle your claim and have your car repaired, if needed. Also, your adjuster will contact the garage where your car is being repaired to get an estimate of the repair costs. If you haven’t picked a garage, your adjuster may recommend one according to the insurance company’s relationships. The insurance company may have preferences according to guarantees that the garage might offer. Also, if you need a rental car, then your claims adjuster may be able to make arrangements if you have the insurance endorsement for rental cars. Finally, the adjuster will check out any potential personal injury claims in addition to approving repair costs and handling payments.
Getting a Lawyer’s Opinion
While having an adjuster is very essential to your claim, a car accident attorney also provides great value. With an experienced car accident lawyer on your side to help you with your claim, you will not only understand why the process is complex, you will be more confident about the results. Most insurance companies and corporations will have their attorneys try to defeat your claim and try to minimize their financial liability, therefore having your own car accident attorney can help iron out the details of your case with your best interest at heart. Making the process a whole lot easier for you.
Understanding Diminished Value Claim
You should file a diminished claim if the other party is at fault in order to recover your vehicle’s value. The diminished value is the difference in market rate for a car before and after an accident occurs. You would need to provide the estimated market value for your vehicle during the claims process. Additionally, keep in mind that most insurance companies will not allow you to file a diminished value claim against your own insurance company. In order to find out the time limitations and other laws regarding diminished value claims, reach out to your state’s department of insurance to learn more about your claim.
Additional Information Regarding Your Claim
If your vehicle damage exceeds the vehicle value, then you should discuss the gap insurance part of your claim with your adjuster. Your gap insurance is an amendment to your policy. In addition, you will also want to discuss the total loss as well as the anticipated timeline for settling the claim. Having this information will allow the process to be more seamless. After the adjuster has shared your repair costs with the insurance company, you will find out if there is a deductible that you have to pay before moving forward with the claim. However, if the insurance company denies the repairs, you will not get paid. If this happens, you would need to appeal and work on a settlement.
Car accidents are unfortunate occurrences that drivers hope to avoid. If you are involved in one, it may not be a pleasant experience. However, with the right claims adjuster at your insurance company and a trustworthy car accident attorney, you may be able to end up with a good settlement. In the event that you feel as though the process is taking too long, you can contact your state commissioner’s office and see your other options. In addition, after your claim is completed, you can speak with an agent about changing insurance companies if their services were not to your standards or best interests.