5 Steps To Filing Your Car Insurance Claim
What is a car insurance claim?
A car insurance claim is what you give to the insurance company after a car accident to get compensation for any damages you sustain. Chances are likely you probably spend a lot on car insurance each month so when you need to use it, you’ll want to make sure you’re filing your car insurance claim correctly.
Step 1: Notify The Police
It’s best to call the police after you’re in a car accident for a variety of reasons. You’ll likely be a little shaken up after the initial impact so you’ll want a third party there to take down all the details of the accident. If things get a little sour between you and the other driver(s), a police officer can mediate the situation and protect you from any sort of conflict that may arise. In addition, the police can ensure there is an ambulance or emergency service vehicle present to help those who are injured or hazardous situations – like leaking fuel or oil that could be ignited. And once the police evaluate the scene and the cause of the car accident, they’ll be able to provide you with a police report that you can use in your car insurance claim.
Step 2: Collect evidence for your car insurance claim
It’s important to keep track of details when it comes to filing a car insurance claim. Having you car accident information list handy will help ensure you get all the information you need to complete your car insurance claim with success.
Step 3: Call you insurance company as soon as possible
You’ll want to notify your insurance company as soon as you can so they can help guide you through the process of filing your car insurance claim. They’ll notify you of what information you need to include with your car insurance claim and how to send them along. If your car is not able to be driven due to the damage it’s sustained and you need a towing service and/rental car, your insurance company will be able to provide you with information on whether you have coverage on your policy to cover those costs. They should also be able to provide you with information on who to call so you don’t have to spend money that you don’t need to.
Step 4: Filing your car insurance claim
Once your car insurance claim is reported and filed with your insurance company, they’ll likely assign an insurance adjuster to work on your car insurance claim. The insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate the circumstances of your accident and to offer you a settlement to cover just the basic costs of your damages. Something to remember is that the insurance adjuster is not necessarily on your side during this process. More often than not, an insurance adjuster will offer you a low settlement offer.
Step 5: Negotiating your car insurance claim with the insurance adjuster
This can be a bit of an overwhelming task, but knowing the value of your car insurance claim and having the right documentation to backup your counter offer can be incredibly beneficial.
Things to remember when talking through your car insurance claim with the insurance adjuster assigned to you:
- Be polite but cautious. Ultimately, the insurance adjuster is an employee of the insurance company they work for, not you. That being said, you need to remember that they will serve the company’s interests over yours.
- Outline all of the circumstances in your car insurance claim, highlight points that support the value of your car insurance claim (such as the other driver’s negligence, your attention to following the rules of the road, supportive evidence for your case from the police report, etc). You’re probably not telling the insurance adjuster anything they don’t already know but this step does let the adjuster know you’re informed and that you understand the monetary value of your car insurance claim.
- Make a demand for how much you want to receive from the settlement offer. At this point the insurance adjuster may tell you that they’ll get back to you. A tactic insurance adjusters use is to wait a few days after you step up with an offer to see if you’ll settle for less so you can get your vehicle back out on the road faster. If your car insurance claim has evidence to support it and you’re not at fault for the accident, wait it out. The insurance company is more likely to settle for your offer than expend more resources to drag out your claim just to give you a smaller one.
- Don’t lower your car insurance claim value until the insurance company makes a counter offer. If they request more documentation, like photos or medical records, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer before sending them the information so they’re not taking advantage of you.
- Remember to stay level-headed and calm through the negotiation process. While the insurance company just wants you to take the lowest amount that they can reasonable offer, they’ll likely be more willing to negotiate if you act in a professional manner.
Once you and the insurance adjuster come to an agreement and you feel the offer they give you is acceptable and enough to cover your damages and losses, they’ll send you a check with a form to sign that releases them from having to deal with your car insurance claim any longer. It’s at this point that you want to carefully consider whether or not you are going to be given enough compensation to cover the damages and repairs to your vehicle and your medical expenses. Make sure the settlement offer covers your bills and compensates you fairly!
What to do if the insurance adjuster is being unpleasant or you can’t negotiate a fair settlement
If you find yourself going against the insurance adjuster without much wiggle room, politely ask to speak to the insurance adjusters supervisor. Be polite but firm and explain that you’d like another party to help reach a resolution.
If the insurance adjuster’s supervisor is equally as or more difficult than the person you were previously talking with, consider hiring an experienced car accident attorney to take over your case. Consulting with an attorney will let you know if you’re asking for a reasonable value for your car insurance claim. If you are, the attorney will be able to help negotiate your car insurance claim and even help you win a larger settlement. If you seek help from an attorney, cease all contact from the insurance company and have them communicate directly with your lawyer for the rest of the duration of your settlement.
If have questions about your car insurance claim or are considering using an auto accident attorney to help you get your settlement approved, contact The Clardy Law Firm for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. We’ll help get you the compensation you need to recover.