Filing auto insurance claims is not a trivial process. After months or years of paying premiums, a claim is a moment when you get the benefit of maintaining coverage, so it is important you perform the correct steps in the correct order so you can preserve the coverage you have worked so hard to earn.
You need to have your paperwork, pictures, facts, and auto insurance information together before you even think about calling your insurance company. Having everything you need will dramatically reduce the possibility of a mistake and will very likely improve your chances of obtaining an adequate settlement.
Understand Your Policy
Your insurance policy governs your relationship with your insurance company. It should be a high priority of yours to sit down for a couple of hours and read it. Included in your policy will be your obligations as the covered individual. The policy will also explain what is covered, how it is covered, and what you must do in order to successfully make auto insurance claims against that policy.
This is also the document your insurance company may try to use to deny your claim. This will often happen even if you believe you are or were covered at the time of the accident. The legal system is the battleground for countless cases of policyholders suing their insurance companies because claims were not settled in the policyholder’s favor.
So do yourself a favor and understand the policy you are paying for before you need it.
Consider Legal Representation
Even if you believe your accident is unlikely to lead to a legal dispute, it is often a good idea to retain the services of an attorney before you make any statements or auto insurance claims. While this goes without saying in a situation involving the police, not as many people think it’s important when dealing with their own insurance company.
Your attorney will know what to say, when to say it and how to say it in a way that gives you the maximum chances of preserving your coverage. It might even be best to let your attorney perform the initial notification of your insurance company. This will protect you in case questions are asked or your insurer demands additional information you can’t provide at the moment.
When you hire an attorney, they will tell you having a stack of papers to wave in the air in court will go a long way towards winning any potential disputes. It is, for this reason, you must be relentless in recording everything that happens during auto insurance claims. You’ll need complete information from the accident scene. You’ll need to preserve every document you send or receive from anyone involved. You’ll also need to take copious notes if you have conversations with your insurer about your claim.
You better believe your insurer is keeping records of every last detail. If there is a dispute at some future point, you will be thankful you’ll be able to reconstruct the entire timeline of the accident and claim in enough detail to persuade third parties like judges and juries. Write everything down with dates and times, make copies of every document and send the copy to your lawyer.
These are all strategies you should consider to give yourself the best chance of obtaining a favorable settlement. At the same time, you will want to be certain you follow the law and discharge all of your personal duties under your policy. Notify your insurer on time, call the police if the law in your jurisdiction requires it and keep meticulous records of everything at the scene. In the long run, these steps will go a long way towards making sure you are protected and you get the full value from your policy.