Car accident insurance claims - do's and dont's

A man dialling a phone in front of a wrecked car.

Accidents happen. Even when you take precautions to reduce the dangers of the road.

Your first concern after a car accident is your health, and the health of others involved. But if everyone escapes unscathed your next concern is probably the financial impact your accident will cause.

There is a protocol for filing an auto insurance claim for a car accident, but the right steps for one accident may not be right for another. Though your insurance provider is on your side in a sense, and will help you through it, there are decisions your have to make for yourself.

The do’s of car insurance claims

Assess the damage: You’ll want to exchange insurance information with the other motorist(s) involved in the accident, and assess the damage to your vehicle. Take pictures of the damage done to your own car.

Review your policy: Look over your insurance policy to get an idea of your coverage and deductibles. This will help you know what to expect.

Notify your insurance provider: Alert your insurance company that you have been in an accident. They will let you know the specific requirements needed to file your claim.

Be honest: Exaggerating the cost of the accident can get you into trouble. For the most part, you will need to provide documentation that helps determine the value of your car, as well as the costs associated with the accident. Which brings us to the next point.

Keep receipts: If you need to rent a vehicle while yours is in the shop, make sure to keep proof of the costs. Many secondary costs of a collision are covered by insurance policies, but most require proof.

Police report: File a police report for the accident. This confirms to your insurer that an accident took place, and that the event occurred as your claim it did.

The do not’s of car insurance claims

Assume your insurance provider will handle everything: There is more to it than informing your insurance provider about the accident. In addition to filing a report, you must submit costs associated with the accident and prove that you are eligible to be compensated.

Sign things as a matter of policy: If you disagree with your insurance provider’s assessment, you do not have to sign agreements that run contrary to your opinion. If you believe that your provider has incorrectly handled your claim, talk with them. If they do not convince you that they have properly handled your claim, consider finding legal representation.

Admit liability: There are multiple factors at play in an accident. Even if you feel that you are responsible, do not admit fault. From a legal perspective, fault will be determined by witnesses, the police and your insurance provider. Do not assume a culpable position without due process.

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