5 Ways to Deal with Your Insurance Company After an Accident
You pay into your insurance policy and have a reasonable right to assume that you will receive appropriate compensation when an accident occurs. Unfortunately, some insurance companies will take every opportunity to deny your claim in an effort to avoid covering your damages. Dealing with your car insurance after an accident can be a hassle; luckily, you can use these tips and tricks to make the process simple and easy.
5 Tips on What to Do After a Car Accident with Insurance
Tip #1: Thoroughly Document the Accident
After a car accident, insurance companies will require evidence of the accident so they can determine what damages occurred, who is at fault, and whether your specific coverage applies to the situation. One way to ensure this happens is to have a dash camera, which will hopefully be recording whenever an incident occurs. In some cases, insurance companies will offer discounts to drivers who use a dash cam, making them a handy gadget to have.
Whether you have a dash cam or not, it's also important to take pictures and videos after the accident to support your claim. This visual evidence will support your side of the story and create a clear record of what areas of your vehicle (or another party's vehicle) were affected. You'll also want to talk to any witnesses present and, if possible, get the contact information of any involved parties.
Tip #2: Hold On to All Receipts, Bills, and Records
From here on out, you should carefully preserve any documentation, communication, or transactions relating to this accident. For example, if you have a discussion with your insurance company or another driver, make sure to take careful notes. You may also want to record this communication (ensuring that you inform the other party, especially in two-party consent states).
In addition to notes and recordings, make sure to hold on to the following:
- Repair cost estimations
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Accident-related diagnoses
- Texts and emails from your insurance company
- Insurance paperwork
It's wise to make copies of these documents, either physical or digital. You may be called upon to produce specific documentation when proving your claim, so it's essential to have backups. In addition, you can request specific documents, like police reports or medical records, by contacting an organization directly. Because these documents may take time to transfer, it's essential to ask for copies as soon as possible.
Tip #3: Try to Be Patient
The insurance process can be incredibly frustrating, with layers of bureaucracy and slow response times eating away at your patience over time. Make sure to communicate clearly with representatives and adjusters, trying your best to speak to them respectfully. The calmer you are, the more likely your adjuster will listen to the facts and evidence you provide. While it may occasionally feel like they are working against you, most insurers want to help their policyholders.
Accidents can be stressful, and any injuries you've sustained may further strain your ability to remain positive. Try to be as objective as possible when dealing with your insurance claim, and trust that, eventually, you will get the reimbursement you are entitled to. Avoid contacting the other affected parties if possible, and never admit fault. Once the initial information is exchanged, all communication should occur between insurance companies.
Tip #4: Take Note of What Parts Are Used to Repair Your Car
Insurance companies often recommend shops to go to for your repairs, but this is only a suggestion. If you have an auto repair shop you trust, you are more than welcome to go there. Record what parts are replaced and whether they are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or aftermarket. You'll likely need to provide receipts for the repairs and tell your insurer what type they were, as OEM and non-OEM parts will vary significantly in price.
You should also talk to your insurer about any programs they have for providing you with a temporary vehicle. Some insurance policies entitle drivers to a rental car; this benefit may cover the entire cost or a portion of the daily charge. Using a rental vehicle can be an excellent way to put off paying for repairs out of pocket, allowing you to wait until your insurance approves the claim before heading to the shop.
Tip #5: Be Careful During Negotiations and Settlement Discussions
There may be times when an insurance company will want to negotiate particular parts of your claim. One argument many adjusters will use to try to get some money back relates to automotive betterment. For example, if your vehicle is repaired with new parts and the value is raised, insurance companies may try to reduce the amount they payout or even charge you. You can rebuke these attempts by proving that the parts have not increased the value of your vehicle. The easiest way to do this is by speaking with the automotive professional who performed the repairs.
Insurance companies may also try to lowball you with settlement offers, usually by claiming that your vehicle is "totaled". While the criteria to determine whether a car is totaled varies by state, it usually means that the cost of repairs exceeds the car's actual value. You can get your vehicle appraised to disprove this claim or hire a lawyer to deal with the insurance payout process specifically.
Can a Previous Accident Affect My Insurance?
Even if an accident occurred before your ownership of a vehicle, it might still affect how much you pay in insurance. If a car has a significant history of accidents or was previously declared "totaled", insurance companies may deem it riskier to cover. This decision is because of hidden damage that major collisions can leave behind even after repairs.
The best way to find out whether a vehicle has been in an accident before you purchase it is with a vehicle history report. These reports can show you invaluable information about any available vehicle. With the details these reports provide, you can negotiate for better deals, get estimates of your lease or loan payments, and avoid common car-buying scams.
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