How-To: File an Insurance Claim after a Car Accident
Chances are, at some point in your life you will be involved in a car accident, whether by someone else’s fault or your own. After a jarring collision, you may not know which step to take first in filing a claim with your insurance company. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you along.
When to File
First, always call your personal injury lawyer before reaching out to your insurance company. Insurers want to settle cases as quickly as possible to avoid losing money. Without guidance from professional personal injury lawyers, you might not receive the full amount of damages you are entitled to. What you think is a check from the insurance company to cover expenses is really a final settlement offer. Do not sign anything until you have consulted with expert personal injury attorneys and understand your rights. It is free to inquire about your case with Warshafsky Law and there is no fee unless you win.
After consulting with your lawyer, contact your insurance company as soon as possible following the accident. You will also need to follow this advice if your car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged from a non-accident related event, such as fire or extreme weather.
You should be able to find your insurance carrier’s contact information on your insurance card, online or in your policy documents.
Information You Will Need to Have Ready
Have ready this information before you contact your insurance agent:
• Your full name and policy number
• The start and end date of your policy
• Date and time of the incident
• Names, addresses and phone numbers of all drivers, passenger and witnesses to the event
• Driver’s licenses and plate numbers for all drivers
Your insurance company may also require a sworn statement that details the events of the accident including weather conditions, time of day or night, etc. Be sure to document any damage that has occurred to your body or your personal property with the aid of photographs.
The Five Steps of the Insurance Process after Filing a Claim
After you contact the insurance company, your case will go through the following:
1. Your case will be assigned to a claims professional from your insurance company.
2. You will meet with your claims professional to discuss your coverages and the situation.
3. Evaluation by your claims investigator may include damage inspection of the vehicle, examining evidence of injury claims and an initial payment to you if necessary.
4. Resolution of the case, including final payments when appropriate.
5. Case closed.
Since you are responsible for protecting your own property, your car insurance company may require you to make temporary fixes to your car while you are waiting for car repairs. These can help prevent further damage. However, be sure not to make permanent repairs before you are approved, because these may not be reimbursed.
REMEMBER: Make sure you keep receipts for any expenses you incur for car repairs and medical bills.
Bodily Insurance Claims
If you have been injured in an accident for which you were not responsible, you will typically be covered by the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.
If you live in a no-fault state, you may have to pay for your injuries through your own personal injury protection coverage. A reputable personal injury lawyer can help you understand your state’s laws.
Property Damage Claims
Your ability to file a claim for vehicle repairs depends on the cause of the damage and your coverage policy:
Liability property damage coverage does not cover your own car. It will only pay for the damage you cause to another.
The two major coverage types that pay for damage to your vehicle include:
Collision coverage, which covers accidents that occur on the road, and comprehensive coverage, which will cover damages to your car from non-accident events such as vandalism and severe weather.
Handling a Claim
If you have been injured in a car accident, there are certain steps that can make the process of dealing with a personal injury claim easier.
• Take photos of the scene and your injuries
• File a police report and request a copy
• Visit a doctor immediately
• Write down everything related to your injury, including any work time or activities you may have missed due to injury, this is necessary if you are going to file a lost wages claim
• Hire an attorney, if necessary
REMEMBER: Never admit fault at the scene of the accident
Hiring an Attorney
In some cases, you might consider bringing in the counsel of an attorney who specializes in accident claims. They may be able to expedite the process with your insurance company and will advocate on your behalf when arguing fault and further complications. Contact Warshafsky Law for a case assessment from the best auto crash lawyers in Madison.