Things to Expect During a Car Accident Claims Process
In the aftermath of a car accident, you will likely find yourself up against another whirlwind experience in dealing with the auto insurance company (or companies). In order to begin the process to get compensated for the damages resulting from your accident, you will need to file one or more auto insurance claims. Damages to your car, not to mention medical treatment for any injuries that may be sustained, can add up very quickly and can become incredibly expensive. Because of these expenses, it is imperative for any person involved in an auto accident to know how to file an auto insurance claim.
Alerting the Police of Your Car Accident
In the event that you are involved in a car accident, your first point of contact should be the police. Regardless of whether the other parties involved in the accident seem trustworthy, helpful, or responsible, having a police officer report to the scene ensures that there is an objective and official account of the accident having taken place. Though it is important for you to take note of facts surrounding your auto accident, in many cases it is also helpful to have a police report of the incident as well. Police are particularly useful, and should be contacted immediately, if you are having difficulty with one or more parties involved in your car accident. The police will be able to direct emergency services to anyone who needs their assistance, resolve disputes, take down witness information, assess damage to any involved vehicles or property, and gather all relevant and necessary documentation from all parties.
Gathering Information from Your Motor Vehicle Accident
It is important that you have gathered as much information as possible regarding your car accident before you file your auto insurance claim with the insurance company or companies. It is also helpful to have a copy of the police report from your accident before you file your claim. You should have detailed and comprehensive information about your car accident, including but not necessarily limited to the following:
- Date and Time of the Accident
- Insured Driver’s Full Name
- Insurance Policy Number
- Start and End Date of Insurance Policy
- Driver’s License Numbers for All Involved Drivers
- License Plate Numbers for All Involved Vehicles
- Witness Testimonies and Contact Information
- Detailed Description of the Accident Itself
Calling the Insurance Company
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after gathering all of the information necessary to file your claim – they will be able to walk you through the remainder of the claim filing process. In many cases, it is advisable to contact an attorney prior to contacting your insurance company so that you are armed with the best information to ensure you present your situation to the insurance company in the manner most beneficial for you. In some situations, however, you may need to contact the insurance company as soon as possible. For example, if your vehicle is rendered inoperable as a result of your motor vehicle accident, your insurance coverage may cover towing arrangements for your vehicle. You may also have coverage under your car insurance policy that could help you get a rental car to use in the immediate aftermath of your accident.
Getting in Touch with a Claims Specialist
Once you have reported your claim to the auto insurance company, you will be assigned a claim specialist (or an adjuster) who will be your primary point of contact for the remainder of your claim. The role of the adjuster is to represent you during communications with any other parties, including other insurance companies and third parties, pertaining to your claim. The adjuster will also investigate of the details surrounding your accident, and they will aide you in getting any necessary repairs done to your vehicle. Adjusters will contact the mechanic responsible for your car repairs, get estimates of repair costs, and even put you in touch with auto repair professionals in the event that you do not have any in mind. They will also handle approving repair costs and issuing payments to the repair facility. Finally, the adjuster will investigate any personal injury claims arising from the accident.
Contacting an Attorney for an Opinion
Though having an adjuster is a necessary part of navigating any auto insurance claim, a car accident attorney can also be a valuable resource to have in your corner in the aftermath of your motor vehicle accident. Hiring a car accident attorney after an accident can be a great asset to you – they can help you navigate the complicated claims process, while simultaneously making you more confident of the result. It is the responsibility of the employees at your insurance company to minimize your claim, in order to reduce their own financial liability. For this reason, having a car accident attorney representing only you and your best interest can make the process a lot less stressful for you.
What is a Diminished Value Claim?
The diminished value of your vehicle is simply the difference in market value of a car before and after a car accident happens. If there is another party at-fault for your motor vehicle accident, you have the right to file a diminished value claim. In order to file this type of claim, you would need to provide the auto insurance company with the estimated market value for your vehicle at the time of the claims process. The time limitations, rules, and regulations regarding diminished value claims vary from state-to-state but contacting a car accident lawyer in your state will prevent you from having to navigate these problems on your own.
Additional Information Regarding Your Car Insurance Claim
If the damage to your vehicle exceeds the vehicle’s market value, you should discuss gap insurance coverage with your adjuster. Gap insurance is a type of coverage that can be added as an amendment to your auto insurance policy. You will also want to discuss additional information about your claim including, but not limited to total loss and the timeline in which your claim will be settled. After the determination is made on the repair costs of your vehicle, your adjuster will also let you know if you have a deductible that you must pay in order to move forward with your claim. All of this information will make the claims process more seamless for you.
Obviously, every driver would like to avoid ever being involved in an auto accident. Unfortunately, car accidents are an inevitability, and if you are involved in one, it will likely be an unpleasant experience. Having a great claims adjuster at your insurance company and hiring an experienced and trustworthy car accident attorney can go a long way in lessening the blow that a car accident can cause. If you have tried to settle your auto accident claim with your insurance company and are dissatisfied in any way, you can reach out to an auto accident attorney to help you through the process. In addition, you can speak with your insurance agent after the resolution of your claim about switching insurance companies if their performance during the claims process did not meet your standards.