A car accident can be a scary time in anyone’s life. Even if the damage is minimal, there is a police report to file, the other driver to deal with and an auto insurance claim to file. If it is your first accident, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unsure what to do first. Fortunately filing a claim is a step-by-step process that is relatively simple to learn and understand.
The success of your auto insurance claim will be determined by many factors. What you say and do at the scene of the accident, the completeness, and accuracy of the police report, the accuracy of information that you receive from the other driver and the speed with which you make the insurance report can all affect your ultimate claim results.
At the scene, never admit your fault. In most jurisdictions, “relative fault” comes into play for insurance purposes. Even if you clearly did something wrong, the other driver is obligated to try to avoid hitting you. If he did not do everything possible to avoid the accident then he may be partially at fault. Relative fault is complicated and best left to experts to determine. Simply stick to the facts and be honest but avoid discussions of fault.
Make sure to get the other driver’s full name, vehicle information and complete insurance information, as well as a contact number. Insist on a police report even if there is only minor damage. Write a statement for your own records at the scene if possible or as soon as you get home.
You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurer will send you forms which must be accurately completed. Be sure to call the insurance company if you need any help with the forms, as these forms will be the primary documents used to investigate your claim. The insurer may also request the police report and the other driver’s insurance information. The next steps will depend on the insurance company’s determination of fault, their normal procedures, and the type of insurance you have.
If the other driver is determined to be at fault then his insurance company may offer you a quick settlement, especially if you were injured. Take time to review the settlement offer and if possible, have an attorney look it over. You will need to make the determination as to whether the offer is fair and reasonable. Your other option is a lawsuit, which can be costly and time consuming. Only you and your attorney can decide which choice is right for you.
Although a car accident and the accompanying paperwork can be scary and intimidating, the actual process of filing a claim is a step-by-step and relatively simple process. Follow the above tips and do not hesitate to ask questions. You will be successful in filing your auto insurance claim.
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