There are some important administrative steps you should take after being in a car accident. First, you and the other driver should always exchange insurance information. This is especially important if the other driver was at fault and you don't live in one of the few no-fault states. Then, if the other driver was at-fault, you file a personal injury and property damage claim with the other party's insurance. You also should notify your insurance agent so that they can work from their end to help you out. In many cases, they will file the claim for you.
The other driver's insurance company should contact you to initiate the claims process. At some point, after it has gathered information about the accident, vehicle damage, and any injuries, the insurance company will offer a settlement amount to cover your claim. You may not know if the amount it offers you is enough to cover the damage to your car; it might not be enough.
This is an issue many people do not know how to handle. Here's how: You'll have to contact and negotiate with the other driver's insurance claims adjuster. If the amount is still not enough after negotiation, you may have to seek help from a lawyer who works with insurance claims. Negotiating with a claims adjuster to get the right amount of money from an insurance company is never fun. It helps to know how the process works so that you can get an amount that will cover all the expenses you face after an accident.
- When you file a claim after a car accident, the other person's insurance company will probably offer you a lower amount than you think you are owed.
- They may try to argue that the accident was partially or entirely your fault or that you haven't provided enough evidence—but don't let it get to you.
- Filing and settling an auto accident claim is a hassle. Seeing it through to a successful settlement can be time-consuming, but it will be worth it to get the money you're owed.
As you begin this process, it's vital to document every step. You must get the other driver's name, license plate number, insurance information, and phone number. If you don't, you won't be able to file the claim with their insurance company. Be sure to notify your insurance agent as well. They can help you through the process and may offer some services to assist you with the claim.
Make sure that you call the police at the time of the accident. Then, follow up by getting a copy of the report when it's ready. The report might take a few days, so set a reminder to call and visit your local police station to get your copy. Also, see a doctor and have them note any injuries in your medical record. Take photos of any damage to your vehicle. Both of these can be used as evidence to build your case that the amount you are claiming is fair and just.
If there are any witnesses, you should get their contact information because their statements can help build the case in your favor.
Report and Initiate the Settlement Claim
Make sure you have all of the information you've collected for your agent. They can help you fill out forms or give you some tips for getting the settlement you need. Also, since state laws vary, make sure you check with the insurance commissioner's office in your state to see if there are any other steps you need to take to settle the claim.
Open Your Mail
When you file your claim, the insurance company will send you a letter stating that it received your claim and will contact you. This letter is called a "reservation of rights" letter. It serves only to let you know the agency has the claim, not that it is taking action on the claim itself.
At this point, you might want to talk to a lawyer. A lawyer can help you through any areas that might cause you some problems and represent you in court if the claim goes that far.
Take a Deep Breath
No matter how detailed or fair you are when making your claim, the insurance company may try to fight its way out of paying the amount you believe you are owed. This is because insurance companies are trying to make money, and they don't want to pay more than they think is enough.
Don't hesitate to hire a car accident attorney if you become overwhelmed or if the insurance company won't budge on the settlement.
Try not to feel as if you're asking for too much if you are doing everything right. Negotiating can be stressful, but it's the only way to settle a car accident claim. The insurance agent may ask you to settle the claim before repairs are made.
They may try to argue that the accident was partially or entirely your fault. They may try to say that you haven't provided enough evidence. Don't let it get to you. They are only trying to save money for the company they work for.
Keep Negotiating the Settlement Claim
If you're hurt, or there is other damage to your property, you should send a letter that outlines your medical costs and out-of-pocket expenses. Be sure to include any income you may have lost due to the accident. The claims adjuster should respond to your assessment with a letter of their own, or they might send one first.
They will often offer you a lower amount than you think you are owed. This offer is a normal part of the process. You shouldn't take it personally. At this point, you can either accept the insurance company's offer or continue to negotiate. If you can't reach an agreement, you might need to file a lawsuit. Hopefully, it won't come to that.
Always keep in mind that you'll need patience and self-confidence. Filing and settling an auto accident claim is a hassle. Seeing it through to a successful settlement can be time-consuming. But at the end of the day, it's worth the time to fight for the money you're owed.
Arming yourself with the right information and documentation is half of the battle. The other half is pure grit.