What to Claim or Not Claim on Your Car Insurance – You’re at fault

It is a sad but true fact that the only time you really need your insurance policy is if Something bad happens. Claims are the name of the game, and if you know how to play, you can win. This is not you vs. the insurance company mind you, it is you vs. you. You can be your own best or worst enemy in the event of the claim. Despite what some think, most insurance companies, claims representatives, and agents are out to help you. The more you know and the better your handle yourself, the easier you allow them to do just that. Pay attention to the info that follows and you may do just that. There are quite a few different types of claims pertaining to automobiles, and here I will break them down into 3 general categories: You’re at fault, you’re not at fault and finally, all other scenarios. I will break down specifics of each category, but remember, this is just general advice. When dealing with a claim, you will be dealing with a claims rep, your agent, and potentially, even a lawyer. The information below is just to help educate you about generalities and in no way intended to take the place of the aforementioned individuals. Accidents do happen, and unfortunately, SOMEONE has to be at fault. If you are the unlucky one, here are some things to keep in mind. At the scene:

1. Don’t admit fault even it is clear. Sometimes shared liability exists. Let the expert make those decisions yourself.

2. Be sure to get the info from the other person, if they will give it. Sometimes people think they don’t have to do anything because they were not at fault. If  they won’t comply, see if a police officer will help you, OR, if a policy report is made, get the number and have your insurance company follow up to get it after the fact. The other reality is, if they won’t give you info…how is your company going to take care of them???

3. Call your insurance company as soon as you can within reason. For example, if you are in the middle of the road, and it is a hectic scene, wait to call. Most insurance companies allow you a more than reasonable time frame within which to report an accident. Waiting until you get home is more than fine.

The next day:

1. Once you have reported the accident, a claims representative will make contact with you to inform you of the procedures. Write down their name, phone number, and claim number and keep it somewhere with you at all times. You never know when someone is going to call about the claim or you will need to contact them. Calling your agent every day because you lost the claim number doesn’t exactly speed things up. They will help you, sure, but most of the time, your agent and your claim rep are in two completely different locations and operate almost 100% autonomously.

2. Save receipts. If you HAVE had to get anything done pertaining to the claim on your own (towing, trip to hospital, etc) keep the receipts! It is easy to submit these all at once, but if you are playing detective at the end of the claim to try to gather proof of all expenses, again, this will NOT speed up the claim.

3. Make sure your policy is paid up to date. Yes, it is a little late AFTER the accident to find your policy has lapsed, but some folks forget to pay DURING a claim as well. They think if their car was totaled, they don’t need to pay the insurance premiums…not true. You should continue paying, and if a refund is due, your company will issue it after the fact.

4. Make return calls and emails promptly. Nuff said

5. If you are being sued, check with your insurance company as to how they will help you out in this scenario. They are experts at dealing with claims and oftentimes will represent you as part of the claim.

The above references pertain to liability and collision claims almost primarily. In other words, your policy is paying medical and damages to the other person and their car, and your damage to your car as well. If you have car rental on your policy, this would kick in as well for the time that your car is in the shop being fixed. This is NOT a good time to realize your property damage limits are $25,000 and you just totaled a $60,000 Lexus. I can’t say it enough…MAKE YOUR LIABILITY LIMITS HIGH.

Photo credit/Flickr/dlisbona

Photo credit/Flickr/bubblemonkey

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 25th, 2009 at 3:32 pm and is filed under article. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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