Accident Insurance Claim
Being involved in an accident can be extremely traumatizing, whether or not there are injuries. Added to that, there is the stress involved in filing a police report and making a claim with an insurance company. For this reason, many people choose not to file a claim and unfortunately, that can be a very bad mistake on several levels. While it may be stressful, it is always in your best interest to both make a police report and file a claim. There are actually some basic steps to follow when filing an accident insurance claim that can simplify the process, so before making bad decisions, carefully consider some of the following information.
File a Police Report – It’s the Law!
Sometimes the damage is minimal, yet the stress of stopping to file a police report and wading through mountains of paperwork can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad advice circulating out there that will advise you to forego reporting an accident or filing a claim if the damage is minor enough to fix on your own without suffering financial hardship. Think twice before listening to that advice because it is both illegal and probably violates the terms of your policy as well! Most states require you to report any and all vehicular accidents to the police. Some states may have a set minimum amount, but before getting the damage appraised, you will not know if the damage is truly under those limits.
Understanding the Terms of Your Policy
Secondly, read the fine print on your policy! Most insurance companies require you to report accidents, no matter how minor and whether or not you are at fault, to their claims department. Should you fail to report an accident and your insurance company find out through the other driver or his/her insurance company, you stand in jeopardy of losing coverage or exposing yourself to higher premiums as a penalty. It is true that your insurance premiums may be affected whether or not you are at fault, but the alternative is even more severe. You might just be denied insurance in the future, and of course don’t forget what an unreported accident will do to your driver’s license if the Department of Motor Vehicles gets wind of it.
The Process of Filing an Accident Insurance Claim
Once the police report has been made, the next step is to contact your insurance company. Whether or not you are at fault, your insurance company will immediately try to contact the other driver and/or the other insurance company. If the claim is for property damage only it is a quick and straightforward process which can usually be handled in just two steps. The first is providing all pertinent information to the liability claims adjuster on the telephone and the second step is to have the vehicle appraised by an auto adjuster. If there are injuries you may need to meet with an adjuster and provide medical records and other information as requested by your insurance company, or the other driver’s insurance company, depending on who is at fault and to what degree.
Remember that all states have laws which mandate that insurance companies must settle claims within ‘a reasonable amount of time.’ If you feel that your claim is being unfairly delayed or that you are not being justly compensated, you could seek legal counsel from an attorney who specializes in insurance claims. Never sign off on a claim if you feel it is not fair. Once you have signed off you are agreeing that no further action can be taken. Fortunately, most accident insurance claims are easily settled if you have made a police report and reported the accident to the insurance company as soon as possible.