If you’ve ever been in an auto accident then you know the claims process with the insurance companies can be time consuming, headache-inducing and costly. There are numerous adjusters, automated phone systems and letters to grapple with, so knowing these helpful tips can get your claim off to the right start and down the quickest road to recovery.
Get familiar with the process
The best start to the claims process is securing the identifying information of all the people and vehicles involved in the accident. That’s why it’s a great idea to keep a note pad and pen and a disposable camera in your vehicle. Believe it or not, securing the name and insurance information of the parties involved goes a long way in helping your insurance company process the claim, even if the police are called and draft a report. This in turn leads to better customer service and speedier resolution to claims made against your policy. Regardless of who you believe is at fault for the accident, call your carrier within 24 hours and file a claim. Once the claim has been filed, your insurance company will assign an adjuster to the claim that will then begin investigating the facts of the accident by contacting everyone involved in the claim and examining the surrounding circumstances leading up to, and a reasonable time period, after the accident. Once liability is established your adjuster will work with the fault-free party and you to settle any claims for property damage or bodily injury made against your policy.
Get to know your adjuster
When the claims adjuster from either company calls you to discuss your claim, be prepared to take down important information relevant to your claim. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about the accident to the other party’s insurance company, refer them to your insurance company. You have agreed by signing your car insurance policy to cooperate with your insurance company, so during your initial contact with your insurance company adjuster, be sure to get their name and phone number as well as your claim number. Ask about their work schedule and set mutual expectations of each other. If each of you is holding the other accountable, your claim will receive particular attention and your adjuster will stay in regular contact with you to update the status of your claim, leading to a much speedier resolution of the claims.
Take ownership of your claim
It is your burden to prove your claim and yours alone. Your adjuster is under state laws to contact you and if you are nonresponsive to attempted contacts, it is not possible for your adjuster to help you bring the claim to resolution. If you are proactive and keep in regular contact, you will be back on the road and compensated for your claims in no time. Your claims adjuster is there to help you, not hurt you, and failing to cooperate with your adjuster only delays resolving YOUR claim.
No threats or arguing
It is a fact of life that not everybody gets along well with other people. That however gives neither person involved to become belligerent or unreasonable. If you feel like you need an attorney to handle a simple fender-bender for you, go right ahead, your claims adjuster is getting paid the same either way and it’s no more expensive for the company in the long run. If you don’t like what your adjuster has to say about your claim, rationally and calmly explain why you disagree with their assessment. If you can’t come to an agreement, your state law will tell you the time period you have to either settle the claim or file suit, or you could forever lose any right to recovery.
Nobody likes being in an accident but there really is no reason to make the claims process any more challenging or difficult than is necessary. If you have all the relevant information going into the claim and make prompt contacts with the insurance companies, most simple claims can be resolved within 30 days.