It is not uncommon for people to be confused about how to claim insurance after an accident. There are many steps that need to be taken in order to make sure you don’t miss anything and get the maximum amount of coverage possible. This blog post will help you through the process, so that you know what to expect when it comes time for a claim.
1. Report the Accident Immediately
The first and most important thing to do in order to protect yourself is to call the police. If an accident occurs, you need a legal record of what happened. Otherwise, when it comes time for insurance purposes your word may not be enough. By reporting the accident immediately, you will have documented proof that everything happened just as you said it did.
2. Exchange Insurance Information
Once the police have come to document the accident, it is time to exchange insurance information with all of the involved parties. These are simple forms that should be filled out immediately in order to document who was at fault and how much coverage for each car or person involved. You can find more information about the process here: http://www.dmv.org/exchanging-information-after-a-traffic-accident.php
3 . Go to the Doctor
Even if you feel like nothing happened and that it is not necessary, you need to go to a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. This will help you in case you need to have a claim for ongoing medical problems. Even if everything seems fine, it is a good idea to get yourself checked out just in case.
4 . Seek Legal Advice from an Attorney
If the accident was severe enough that someone has been taken to the hospital by ambulance, or if there are ongoing legal issues, you need to contact a car accident attorney at your earliest convenience. In this case, it is not enough to only seek out legal advice from an attorney after the fact. You should do so as soon as possible after the event in order to document everything and make sure that you are protected through every step of the process.
5 . Don’t Talk to Your Insurance Company
Most people are told that the first thing they should do after an accident is contact their insurance company. This is not always best for your case. Insurance companies may try to get you to give them information that helps them, but does not necessarily help you out in the long run. Wait until you have legal advice before giving any information to an insurance representative.
6 . Do Not Accept a Settlement from the Insurance Company
When you have been in an accident, there is always the temptation to settle quickly for whatever money is being offered. This can be a big mistake, as it may not cover all of your expenses and could leave you short later on. Always consult with your legal team before accepting any settlement. They will be able to tell you if it is best for you in the long run.
7 . Look into What You Left Out of Your Policy
Last but not least, do some research after an accident and see how much insurance coverage you have left out of your policy and whether or not it would be best to open a claim for additional coverage. This may allow you to cover some of your out-of-pocket expenses.
If I’m concerned about “staging” my accident, should I still call the police?
The main reason you would want to call the police is to document what happened. The more information you have when it comes time to make an insurance claim, the better. You may be asked by another party involved in your accident why you waited so long to call the police, for instance. It’s best to be as transparent as possible. Even if you feel like your accident was minor and no one really cared about it, it’s not wise to risk angering someone who could potentially out-and-out lie about what happened and complicate things later on.
If I hire a lawyer after an accident do I need to go through with their advice?
While it’s always best to have legal representation, you should always be the one to decide what is best for you. A lawyer will give advice but cannot make any decisions on your behalf. If you do not feel comfortable with their recommendations or if they tell you not to claim damages from your insurance company, then it is your responsibility to decide whether or not to go through with it.
What are the benefits of hiring an attorney after an accident?
There are many things to consider when deciding whether or not to use a lawyer, but all attorneys will tell you that having legal representation is always best in the long run. They can put out feelers to find out if you are likely to be sued, what the other party is looking for in compensation, and how much insurance coverage you have left. They will also help protect your interests throughout the entire process.
Should I open a claim on my policy after an accident?
This is up to you and your legal team. You may find that opening a new claim brings the question of whether or not you were at fault for the accident back into play. If so, it’s best to speak with a lawyer before doing anything else because there is a good chance that you could lose your no-fault or other type of coverage.
If I’m not prepared to communicate with my insurance company, who should I contact after an accident?
The immediate aftermath of an accident is always best handled by a lawyer. It may seem like you are doing things right by calling your own insurance company, but the likelihood that you will do something wrong in this situation is very high. You will want to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after the fact, preferably before you give any information to your insurance company and definitely before accepting any settlement offer.
As A Rule
We hope this post has been helpful for you. Even if you have not had an accident, it is worth going over these tips to see what might happen should the unthinkable occur. If you would like more information on how to claim insurance after a car accident, please comment below and share your thoughts!