If you’re really lucky, you’ll never have to file an auto insurance claim. But for most of us who spend a vast amount of our lives behind the wheel, filing a claim for some type of auto damage is almost a certainty.
Most insurance claims don’t involve injuries, says the National Association of Independent Insurers http://www.naiia.com/. According to their figures, sixty-three cents of every dollar in claims goes toward repairing vehicle damage. In auto damage claims, the process is pretty straightforward. You contact your insurer who sends a representative to assess the damage to your vehicle. You then get an estimate for repairs and your insurer sends you a check to pay for it. Sometimes, if the damage is minimal and you’re a longstanding customer with a clean driving record, your insurer won’t even send a claims representative to look at your vehicle. You just get an estimate from a certified repair shop and they send you a check to pay for it.
What are the proper steps at the accident scene to make your insurance claim easier? First of all, if there are injuries, call 911 and make sure emergency medical personnel dispatched to treat the injured. The next step is to file a police report. Regardless of whether there are injuries, filing a police report is your best protection in ensuring that your claim is handled properly. The police will assess the accident scene and note information, including injuries, witnesses and physical damage.
Before you leave the scene of the accident, make sure you get the other party’s license plate number, driver’s license number, contact information and insurance information. Note the number of passengers in the other vehicle to ensure the other party doesn’t claim injuries for people who weren’t actually involved in the accident. This technique is common among insurance scammers in order to increase the amount of their claim.
If there are witnesses at the accident scene, be sure to get their contact information so you can get in touch with them if you need to corroborate your account of what actually happened.
Call your insurance representative as soon as you can. If you have a cell phone, call from the accident scene, if you’re able. Many insurance companies have a 24 hour claims service by phone and they’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to file your claim properly.
For those of us who do have an accident, hopefully it will be a minor one with no injuries or fatalities. If so, be grateful that everyone involved is safe and that you have insurance to cover the damage.
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