Car accidents are, unfortunately, an inevitable occurrence in our lives. In 2020, the NHTSA estimated a total of 5,215,071 non-fatal crashes on U.S. roads, with many more suffering injuries and even fatalities. These incidents are so overwhelming and can place significant financial and physical stress on your life, especially when it comes to dealing with insurance companies.
How to deal with insurance after a car accident
Here are 10 things you need to know before you deal with insurance companies after your car accident.
1. Document everything
After your accident, it’s important to document everything. This will save you from all the hassle of missing information when dealing with insurance companies. Gather information like:
- Location, date, and time the incident occurred.
- Name, contact information, and insurance information of the other driver.
- Take photos or videos of the position of the vehicles, property damages, and injuries sustained.
- Contact information from any witnesses present.
- If police are involved, the information and badge numbers of each officer.
This information will be useful when filing your insurance claim and can help ensure you receive the compensation you need to cover the costs associated with the car accident.
2. Don’t admit fault
After the accident, you should never admit fault. Chances are you both contributed to the accident in some way or another so you shouldn’t bear the burden of fault for the entire accident.
This also includes apologies. Avoid apologizing, as this can be interpreted as an admission of guilt and can ultimately hurt your insurance claim.
Focus on exchanging and collecting information and leave it to the insurance adjusters and investigators to determine who was at fault for the accident based on the evidence.
3. Report the accident immediately
After thoroughly collecting all the necessary information, immediately report the incident to your insurance company. Failing to report the accident promptly could potentially cause problems with your claim or even result in denial of coverage.
Have your policy number and any other relevant insurance information handy to help ensure that your claim is processed quickly and that you receive the compensation you need to cover the costs of the accident.
4. Review your policy
Reviewing your insurance policy is an important step in understanding what coverage you have and what you’re entitled to in the event of a car accident.
There are insurance policy limits to your coverage depending on what state you are in. For example, in Texas, the minimum required liability insurance is $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. Any amount over these limits will be lost and can only be recovered by filing a lawsuit with a Houston car accident lawyer like Ramsey Law Group. Knowing your policy limits can help you make informed decisions when it comes to filing your claim with your insurance company.
5. Don’t sign anything without reading it
We all tend to overlook those wordy and long terms and conditions pages and sign things without fully comprehending what we are agreeing to. However, when dealing with insurance companies and car accident claims, it’s crucial to never ever sign anything without reading it carefully and fully understanding the terms and conditions.
If you are ever unsure about the terms or conditions of any document that is presented to you, don’t hesitate to seek advice from an attorney to help you read the fine print. It’s better to take the time to read and understand the documents thoroughly than to risk signing something that could potentially harm your rights or interests.
6. Be cautious with insurance adjusters
Remember that insurance companies are focused on lowering their expenses. While their job is to investigate the accident and evaluate your claim, their primary objective is to protect the interest of the insurance company.
After your accident and filing a claim, you may get several phone calls from insurance adjusters. They will sound very friendly over the phone and check in on you to make sure you are doing all right. This is their script. This “friendly” conversation can be used against you to lower your claim and decrease the insurance company’s expenses.
Stick to the facts of the accident and avoid making statements that could be used against you later. You want to receive fair compensation for your damages so proceed with caution to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
7. Be wary of early settlement offers
Insurance companies may present you with early settlement offers soon after a car accident, but it’s important to be wary of accepting them without consulting with an attorney or carefully reviewing the terms yourself. The offer may seem attractive at first, but it may not reflect the full extent of your damage and injuries.
Accepting these settlements can also prevent you from pursuing further legal action, even if you discover additional damages in the future.
Take the time to carefully evaluate any settlement offer and seek professional advice before accepting.
8. Keep track of all expenses
After your accident, you may have to pay out-of-pocket expenses that will later be reimbursed by your insurance provider. This includes:
- Medical treatments
- Repairs to your vehicle
- Rental car expenses
Keep detailed records of any type of expense that is related to your car accident and save all of the receipts, invoices, and bills. Furthermore, keep track of any lost wages or income due to the accident. Staying organized and saving all your detailed expenses will help speed up the claims process and will increase the likelihood of receiving a fair settlement. It’s also helpful in the event of a legal dispute, as it provides a clear record of the financial impact the car accident had on your life.
9. Understand the statute of limitations
The statute of limitations, simply put, is the amount of legal time you have to file a claim or pursue legal action. These time limits vary depending on your state and the type of claim but typically range anywhere between one and three years.
If you find that you are being treated unfairly and under-compensated for your damages, then It’s important to be aware of the statute of limitations and act quickly to file your claim. Insurance companies may try to delay the claims process to limit their liability and use up your time to file a lawsuit.
10. Consider hiring an attorney
If you suffered serious injuries or damages from your car accident, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the claims process and will even negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf. This increases the likelihood of receiving fair compensation and can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
Beyond this, an attorney can make your life easier, removing the stress and strain that comes through the insurance claims process.