Getting in an accident is a stressful experience. You may have been injured, the damage to your vehicle could be extensive, and now you have to deal with handling an insurance claim on top of everything. The role of auto insurance companies is to protect you financially in the event of an accident, but sometimes it doesn't feel like they have your best interests at heart. You need to know what you should and shouldn't do when dealing with insurance companies after an accident.
Don't: Admit Fault
If you get in an accident with another person, it can be tempting to say you're sorry. That's the first thing you shouldn't do. Apologizing can be interpreted as admitting fault, which can be a big mistake. You shouldn't claim fault for the accident when talking to any insurance companies afterwards either. Admitting fault could result in your policy being invalidated and will put you in a worse position for our claim. Instead of admitting fault, describe the events of the accident as clearly and factually as you can. The insurance companies will draw their own conclusions as to who's at fault.
Do: Admit What You Don't Know
The insurance company will have a lot of questions for you about the accident. They will want to know things like the road conditions, the weather, where you were, the events that took place, and any other details that might prove useful to your claim. Accidents tend to happen very quickly though, and because of the rapid pacing and the stress that accompanies them, you may not have all the details to give them. It can be tempting to guess, but that would be a mistake. It's better to say you don't know something than to make guesses or inaccurate statements.
Don't: Immediately Accept the First Settlement Offer
Insurance companies are businesses, first and foremost, and the purpose of a business is to turn a profit. As such, some insurance companies may attempt to low-ball you with their settlement offer. This is especially the case if you are representing yourself in your claim. While that doesn't always happen and some insurance companies will offer a fair and reasonable settlement from the start, the less money they have to pay out, the better off the insurance company is. If you want to maximize your settlement, it may be best to refuse the initial offer, especially if you suspect it isn't a fair offer.
Do: Consider Hiring an Attorney
It's reasonable to be concerned about navigating the claims process with an insurance company, especially when dealing with one that isn't yours. Hiring an attorney to handle the insurance company and your settlement offer can be a big help. They can assess any offers made and help you decide if it's fair based on the facts of the case. For many people, the primary concern with hiring a lawyer is the cost associated with retaining one. This may not be something you have to be very concerned with though. Attorneys will often operate on a contingency fee basis for personal injury cases, which usually amounts to about 30-40% of the settlement or award.
Don't: Skip Out on Medical Treatments
After an accident, it's important to seek medical treatment. Even something as simple as going to your doctor to get checked out can be helpful. Some injuries don't manifest until later, and your doctor can help identify the extent of any injuries you may not have noticed initially. Once you start receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the accident, it's important to follow through and not skip out on them until you are finished. Skipping out on treatment can be an indicator that your condition isn't as serious as you led the insurance company to believe, and may cause them to question the validity of your claim.
Do: Ask Questions
Most people don't make a habit out of getting into accidents. It's only natural to have questions to ask an insurance company. There will be things you need to take care of on your end, but you won't be able to if you don't know what to do. The insurance company should provide you with direction regarding the next steps to take, but if you have questions about the process, it's a good idea to ask. The more information you have, the better position you'll be in to make the decisions that are best for you.
Insurance companies can be tough to deal with on top of everything else that goes along with the aftermath of an accident. They should be working to give you the protection your policy earns you, but sometimes they're less interested in that and more interested in pocketing as much of your money as possible. Make sure you understand the do's and don'ts of dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath of an accident so you can get the best results possible for your claim.
If you do get into an accident, we can help get your car up and running again. Contact us to schedule a service!