If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you probably spent hours at the mechanic shop, visited the doctor’s office, and in extreme cases had to go out and buy a new car.
After all of that, more than anything you just wanted the process to be over.
Unfortunately, for so many, that isn’t the case. Unless you are very fortunate, there is also always a somewhat in-depth and time-consuming claim process with the car insurance agency.
It can be very tempting to do the bare minimum and let the claim figure itself out; however, if you really want the most for your claim, it is crucial to be involved in the process.
Every accident and claim is different; however, there are five steps that everyone should take following an accident to make sure that insurance agencies don’t take advantage of the situation.
1. Take Photos
A picture is worth 1,000 words, or in this case, could be worth $1000. Following an accident, it is crucial to make sure that there are photos of what happened. Take photos of where the car was hit, the other vehicle involved, and anything else that could help you in an appeal case.
On top of taking photos after the accident, it would also be a good idea to have photos of your vehicle as it is currently. This is particularly true in older vehicles that may have existing scratches and dents. If there are no photos, an inspector may come out and view the vehicle and question whether some of the damage is from the accident or not.
2. Know Your Policy
Every policy is different. Yes, there are some insurance plans that cover every situation for low deductibles and no questions – but this comes with a very high monthly premium payment. Most of us don’t buy the most expensive coverage with all the extra perks and premiums. This results in lower monthly payments, but more work when an accident does occur.
Some policies only apply if it wasn’t your fault. Others have high deductibles depending on the situation. The differences and options are endless, and knowing what you have covered will help you sound more knowledgeable and confident if you ever need to speak with an insurance agent about the claim.
3. Be Familiar With How to File a Claim
Filing a claim following an accident isn’t overly complicated, but it’s a necessary step. To file a claim, follow these general steps.
- Gather information at the scene of the accident. This includes getting the contact information of the other driver, photos, and if necessary, getting the police involved.
- Call up the insurance company and report what happened.
- Work with the adjuster and be direct. Reporting a small scratch or dent is expected and normal.
- Research the claim(s) being made and be familiar with what to expect.
- Get awarded the claim
- Appeal if necessary
Knowing this process will help in knowing what’s next and help prepare to answer any possible questions that may come throughout the process.
If you do not feel comfortable throughout this process, seeking legal help is always a good option. Whether it is as an advisory role or to help fight for every dollar possible, having an attorney in your corner will likely lead to a smoother process.
4. Keep Receipts
In today’s world of online banking, oftentimes receipts are thrown out, or completely ignored. If injured, or if a car has an issue come up later, it is important to keep these receipts because another claim can be made later.
With these receipts, it is also important to ask for notes from the doctor or mechanic that claim that the expenses are related to the car accident and not a routine checkup or car repair.
5. Be Involved
Don’t sit back and wait for everything to work itself out. Insurance companies are businesses and at the end of the day, their job is to make money as well. They won’t (likely) do anything illegal, but they may drag their feet a bit or ask a lot of questions that may seem redundant and pointless.
Be involved and follow up with everything. Remember, you are already paying monthly for car insurance so you shouldn’t feel bad for making sure they are doing their job.
As mentioned before, if there are issues along the way, consulting an attorney may be in your best interest.
Upon completing all of the steps above, you can feel confident that your claim and reward will be done correctly and quickly.